I was (finally) out shopping for my March for Maddie giveaway prize this weekend, looking – obviously – for some weird stuff to throw in there. And I came upon a tiny plastic aquarium with a couple of those “grow” fish in them – the ones that expand in water. And I decided I needed to have one myself.
You see – I am not very good at taking care of pets. No – that’s not exactly true – I am fine with dogs and cats, because they can remind me that they exist and are hungry/thirsty/bored/need to pee/are dicks. But quiet, contained animals? Doomed. That’s the same reason I kill plants. They can’t nudge me with their cold noses, or bark by the door, or stare at my food and “boof,” or knock their empty dish off the platform, shove it across the room, jam it into my instep and “merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! MERL! MERL! MERL! MERL! MERL! MERL!!” at me until I get off my ass and either feed or kill them.
The fact that I still have living hermit crabs should tell you how little care they need. Because if they required anything more than minimal effort, they’d be hot-glued into little vignettes by now.
So anyway, I got this cute, tiny little aquarium that I can set on my desk and play God with the fake fish. You add water – they grow – you forget all about them and they dry up and shrink. Then you notice them one day and think, “GASP! My fish are dried up!” Then you add more water and they puff back up again and you don’t even have to feel guilty about it! I don’t know if you realize this, but YOU CANNOT DO THAT WITH REAL FISH!
Don’t get me wrong – I love aquariums. I can spend hours just looking at them. Speaking of which, I once did just that at burghbaby’s house. Her husband was nice enough to talk to me for a long time all about the fish and critters. Which – while we’re on the topic, Ms. burghbaby often claims that her husband doesn’t talk, but I certainly haven’t experienced that. It seems that she is either full of shit, or Mr. burghbaby and I are dorks of feather. Truthfully, either is possible.
Anyway, I wasn’t always bad at keeping fish, etc alive. Back when I was a kid (somewhere around 6 or 7), my aunts took me to a carnival. One of the games they had was the one where you toss ping pong balls into tiny fishbowls filled with colored water and goldfish – if the ball stays in, the fish is yours.
My aunt tried to talk me out of playing, since it was a waste of money – no one ever wins at that game – plus, if you do – the fish die in a couple of days, anyway – I mean – they are swimming in tiny bowls of colored water, right? Wrong. I won me a fish and I named him Fred (I went through a stage where everything was named Fred for a while). We took it home (to my aunt/grandma’s house) and within a couple of days, we had a whole aquarium set up for this one fish. And despite what everyone but me expected, this fish did NOT die in a couple of days. In fact, he not only lived, he thrived. Within a week or so, we saw him start to increase in size. I was worried about him being lonely, so we bought him a few friends. But soon, the friends disappeared and Fred got bigger. And bigger. And BIGGER.
He soon started looking less like a tiny goldfish and more like a huge gold river fish. He was bigger than any goldfish you’ve ever seen. His tail was the size of an adult hand when “unfurled.” More than once, when my grandfather was cleaning the tank, he put Fred in another container while he scrubbed the tank in the kitchen. When he came back, he found that Fred had leaped from the tank and was lying on the floor, dry and seemingly dead. But Gramps, who loved animals, grabbed Fred and plunged him back into the water. Then he started rubbing him gently – almost doing compressions. And damned if that fish didn’t revive! And it happened TWICE! Gramps thought the first time was a fluke, but after the second, he started throwing a towel over the container.
Fred lived a good, LONG life. I got him when I was about 6 and when he died? I was in college. College! Gramps was magic like that. He didn’t need a fake fish to dry up & reanimate – he could do it for real.