Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Return of the Betta

It's my turn to blog again. The question before me is what to blog about? The landmark case before the Supreme Court today? The latest kerfluffle going on between Barnes and Noble and Simon and Schuster? Any one of a dozen news stories that set my teeth on edge?

No, I choose none of the above. Today I will blog about Betta fish.

Why? Because my daughter just got one. I now have a Betta fish residing in my home. He's very pretty, a beautiful blue/black with hints of red.

But he's a fish.

A. Fish.

I don't do fish. I don't even usually like to eat them. Maybe some salmon. Or Cajun catfish. But definitely not Betta.

My feelings toward fish go way back to when I was a kid. Back then, the animal rights activists would've had apoplectic fits at carnivals and town fairs, because one of the most popular attractions was the ping pong ball pitch into a small bowl in which a live goldfish swam. Sink the ball and win the fish. No food. No Ph balancing gizmo. No cute terrarium with plastic plants and rhinestone castle. Just a fish in a baggie filled with questionably clean water.

I loved the fish bowl toss. Why? Because I was a glutton for punishment. I would inevitably win the fish (let's face - they practically gave the damn things away because not only did they want your quarters, they didn't want to lug a thousand goldfish to the next carnival location, so letting you win after a dollar's worth of tries was a no-brainer for them).

Giddy with happiness, I would carefully carry it home, and immediately cajole my parents into buying me a bowl and fish food. I would fill the bowl with water and put Bobby Sherman into it (now that I think about it, all my fish were named after my latest crushes - I had a Bobby Sherman, a Davy Jones, and the year I became obsessed with Planet of the Apes,  a Roddy McDowell). I would carefully sprinkle food into the bowl, and watch the fish swim lazily in circles. Fish, I learned soon enough, were capable of only one trick - swimming lazily around in circles.

Then, inevitably, a couple of weeks later I would wake to find Bobby Sherman floating belly up in the bowl, and my heart would break.

Enough fish were flushed down my childhood toilet to fill the NY Aquarium.

When I had children of my own, I refused to allow them to go through the fish trauma of my own childhood. Maybe that was wrong of me. Maybe I sheltered them too much. But it is what it is. No fish funerals for my children.

Now, at long last, the spirit of Bobby Sherman has come back to haunt me in the form of a Betta fish. My daughter brought it home this morning (she and her father were in cahoots and neglected to tell me before buying it).

It's beautiful. It swims in circles.

I can almost hear the orchestra tuning up for the funeral dirge already.

I hope not. I hope he (he doesn't have a name yet, but my daughter has asked me to help name him, so we may have Joe Manganiello or Channing Tatum living in our house soon) lives a long and slime-free life, and I won't have to give him an Eternal Swirly.

But, at the risk of sounding as if I'm channeling Eyeore, I doubt it.     

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