Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Didn't Even Get Any Pictures

This weekend's carnival was the gift that kept on giving.

One of my mom's games was Fish Bowl Pong. She had it set up so that the kids were allowed to toss ping pong balls into an assortment of glass bowls and dishes - some of which were filled with water and a goldfish. The prize being...the goldfish.

I admit, I was a little upset that my mom had basically set me up to become an unwilling pet owner, but in the spirit of fun we took a fish home anyway. Mia named her Goldy. She gets a C for creativity, right?

My mom assured me that the fish would surely die within a matter of days, so it wouldn't be too much of a burden on us. I, however, was not so sure.

In high school, I had a goldfish named Shimmy - because we weren't sure if it was a she or a him - that lived for at least 3 years. 3 years of cleaning out a dirty little, poopy watered fishbowl. More precisely, 3 years of forgetting to clean the bowl and then gagging my way through the job when you could no longer see the fish through the slimy glass.

But I was too much of a softy to just let the thing die. Two of my best friends, Mandy and Holly had also gotten goldfish at the same time - I think it was one of those, we can drive on our own now, so what should we do? Hmmm...there's nothing to do and we're broke, so let's go be crazy at Wally world. And while we're there let's get a FISH! Those ideas popped up a lot among my group of friends. We were WAY cool.

Anyway, it became something of a challenge between the three of us as to who could keep their fish alive. I can't remember whose fish lived longest, Mandy's or mine, but I do remember whose died first: Holly's. Poor Holly. She kept spending 23 cents or whatever on fish after fish, but they never lived long. I think she was washing the bowl with bleach at first...floating fish. Then soap...floating fish. Then she fed it something questionable...floating fish. In the end, I think the new fishes could just smell death in her fishbowl, and had a cardiac arrest from fear over what their new owner might inflict upon them. The last fish she brought home started swimming sideways only a few days after it met Holly, so my dear, sweet, logical friend just went ahead and flushed it before it had a chance to fully croak on her. She later learned that anything smaller than a basset hound was doomed to an early death in her house. Big animals are Holly's forte.

Ahem. Where was I before I took a fork down into memory lane?

We carted our new pet home with us without remembering that it would need food, so Justin ran out Sunday morning and bought fish food. And since the bowl we'd brought Goldy home in was only slightly larger than a coffee mug, he also bought a complete fishbowl kit and a little decorative statue doo-dad that had the words OH CRIKEY! printed on it. (You know, for when the fish sees Holly coming over for a visit and wishes to express it's feelings.) It was really considerate of Justin to get those things, only I was all, DO YOU SEE THOSE MILLION TINY PEBBLES? Those will all need to be washed every time the bowl's water gets changed. No way. So we returned the kit for a cheaper bowl and a single, large, psychedelic rock for Goldy to use as furniture. The OH CRIKEY! sign, we kept.

So to recap, we got the fish Saturday night, the bowl and food Sunday night, and by Monday afternoon, the fish was dead. A floater.

I was astonished. After my track record? I KNOW how to grow a goldfish...what the heck happened? After I took stock of my feelings and realized that I had expected to have a fish for many years, I slapped myself upside the head and said LOOK. This here's a gift horse - don't go questioning why the fish died. The point is hallelujah the fish is dead!

Only, then I had to deal with a 3 year old who'd been loving her new fishy. When Mia asked why Goldy was laying down, I rambled off something about it needing a nap and would you like a POPSICLE?! Justin and I debated the merits of having Mia watch us flush the fish vs. telling her we just decided to set it free in my parents' creek. Hard truth vs. squishy sweet lie.

We decided to go with the middle ground and flush it ourselves without telling Mia what had happened. After the girls were in bed that night, Justin carried the bowl into the bathroom and carefully dumped it's deceased contents into the loo. I (being sappy and a little emotional for no very good reason) said a small eulogy to the effect of God, please forgive us for taking such terrible care of this innocent creature, and please help Mia to not freak out. Amen. FLUSH.

We watched Goldy's swirling until she was out of sight, happy to be done with the whole mess...but then she popped back up. Apparently the toilet couldn't swallow something so weightless. It was like God was rejecting our meager plea. We both busted out laughing, snorting over bad omens and stubborn fish-souls. For the second flush, Justin piled a wad of toilet paper on top of the tiny fish and we held our breath as we waited to see if we'd finally be rid of the thing.


The next morning, I had the bowl cleaned out and drying on our kitchen counter when Mia asked where Goldy was. This was the moment of truth; how would she handle the loss?

"Well baby," I told her, bracing myself for the impact, "Goldy didn't make it - she died."

"What's died?" Mia asked.

Oh crap. "Uh, well, she isn't here anymore." Really excellent explaining, Sarah, she's not going to let that be enough. She always asks a hundred questions about any given topic, you'll have to do better than this...

"Why did she go away?" came Mia's next inquiry.

I saw an outlet for my misery and pounced. "I think she didn't really like living in such a small bowl - fish like to be in the ocean or a stream, like Nana's creek. She wasn't very happy in this bowl." There! Now she can assume that Goldy packed up her suitcase and headed to the creek. No harm done.

We should be OK until something non-aquatic dies in our future. If that happens, we may be explaining why dying doesn't mean the creature goes to live in the creek.

A task which will surely be handled by my husband.


  1. First of all, love the Oh, Crikey! sign. Our decorative tank pieceb s a Spongebob-and-Patrick figurine, and let's just say that I get more than enough Spongebob via the television that I really don't need to see his smiling, spongey face from the fish tank too ;)

    Second, your fish stories from high school made me choke for a second only because me and my friends did the EXACT same thing when we were in high school! It must be a rite of passage like shopping for prom dresses and studying for the SAT's.

  2. Poor Goldy! Glad she didn't take it too hard.

  3. Thanks for a good laugh! I had a fish named Swishy when I was about eight years old. Swishy died after a year on a very rainy day. My eight year old heart could not bear the thought of flushing him into the septic tank. So I braved the rain and buried him in my mom's garden. I have not had a fish since. They are too much work for no reward, in my opinion. Fish are not loving.

  4. That was, HILARIOUS! Thank you.


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?