Okay, I don't often go really far into my non-food related life on this blog, but some occasions deserve to be commemorated.
It was about two years ago, during my second summer of law school. I lived in an apartment that didn't allow dogs, and so I got my vicarious doggie thrills by volunteering on weekends at a dog rescue adoption day held in a PetCo parking lot. I often had to go walk through PetCo to wash my hands of doggie slobber and related gunk and I often found myself passing the display of betta fish sitting along one aisle.
One day I stopped to look at them and found myself remembering another betta fish. When I was in high school, roughly 1.5 zillion years ago, my friend Gerald and I made an impulse buy of a betta, whom we named "Techno KT," after me. Seriously don't ask about the "techno" part, it's just another dull piece of evidence of why we were gigantic dorks and the explanation would take up more room than it's worth. "She" (yes, my fish had gender issues--blame it on her parents) spent her days gently waving her elegant pink and purple fins and being constantly bewildered by the piece of da-glo plastic seaweed that appeared and disappeared and reappeared in her bowl as her parents argued about whether or not her small studio apartment really needed to be furnished in such a manner. But what I remembered the most about Ms. Techno KT as I stood there was this: you could not kill that mofo. Gerald went on vacation for two weeks, forgot about her, and there she was, live and kicking when he came back.
I thought about it, and it suddenly struck me that this was exactly what I needed. A fish. A fish that was hard to kill. So I looked at them and my eye settled on two. One was brilliant blue and the other was blood red. I leaned down and gave each one of them the eye. The red one tried to kill me. He puffed up his face and flared out his tail and flipped me the bird, in spirit. The fish was trying to kick my ass. The next thing I knew I was at the checkout with him, a bowl, some fish food and some accessories. When I got home, I slowly walked into J.'s "office" aka, our bedroom.
"Honey?" I said. Which also means "Don't be mad! But ..." Then I put the bowl down on his desk and left the room quickly and when I came back, they were friends and I didn't have to drive back to the pet store to return my impulse buy, which I forgot to ask my husband if he was okay with me getting.
We named him Clancy, which is a Gaelic name that means "red warrior," which is exactly what he was. Clancy was very friendly for a fish. Most fish don't give a crap what humans do, as long as they get their food. But if anyone approached his tank, Clancy would get excited and dance around and fluff up his tail and play complex games like "Follow the Finger." I know all parents say this, but our fish REALLY WAS a genius.
You can expect to have a betta fish for 2 to 3 years on average, and with a pet store betta you are lucky to get beyond two. Clancy had just over two years with us and I think he had a mighty fine life. He got food, he had a sweet tank and we actually studied and learned a lot about bettas so that when he got fish diseases we cured him instead of writing him off. But the one thing we couldn't cure him of was old age.
We knew it was coming ... he was slowing down, not able to swim as well and spending most of his time perched on his plant. And last night he decided to give up the ghost. He gave one last dash around his tank and then floated down to the bottom never to swim again. He received a soldier's burial out in the back of our apartment along with his new aquarium plant that he never got to use, but will now always be perched in.
It's always sad to lose a friend, even of the very littlest and most alien kind. I don't expect to find a fish who even notices people, let alone likes them like Clancy did, for a long time, if ever.
|Monday, September 11, 2006|