Some of you will remember my prior post about my fish. I had two fish. One was a goldfish named Big Boy. He is no longer with us. The other is an old bottom feeder. He’s shy and he wouldn’t turn around to get his photo taken.
Big Boy was an exotic goldfish with big googly eyes…kind of Marty Feldman like. And he had an eating disorder. My vet once told me that it is never a disorder in the animal but in its caretaker. ; ) Anyway, he always seemed hungry, so I fed him. Then he got way too large. I’m talking Carp size here, ladies and gentlemen. Anyway, he started to swim upside down. And he’d poop upside down. And he’d eat his dinner upside down. I began to ration the flakes but he still could not right himself.
One day I came out to the kitchen, where the tank is, and Big Boy had pressed up against an overhead light and had a burn on his tummy and one fin. I took off the cover on the tank and never did put it back on. But he didn’t heal properly. I got all kinds of healing liquids to put in the water and he was okay for a while. He was wise. He used to swim with his one good fin to lie beneath the filter system where a small waterfall would trickle over his belly. He’d keep himself wet that way. He lived almost a year longer. Then as he got closer to going to fish heaven, he’d sometimes get stuck near the filter and be unable to turn. I used to wonder if he’d gone belly up. But just as I’d go to check and see if he was still alive, I’d notice Old Man would swim up from the bottom and nudge him away from the filter. It was amazing to watch them.
It made me think about what kind of language fish have.
I could imagine Big Boy saying, “I’ve got my fat ass stuck again. Can’t turn. Can’t turn.”
Then Old Man would huff. “Damn it. I’m in the middle of vacuuming. I’ll be up in a minute.”
I speak to my fish. I tell them good morning when I put on their light and give them breakfast. I tell them goodnight when I turn off the light before going to bed. Old Man is always addressed first because, well, it’s just the polite thing to do. He’s over 20 years old.
A month ago I found Big Boy was really failing. I knew it was time, and I wanted to help him because I thought he was in pain. I googled what can I do with a dying goldfish? You wouldn’t believe the sick bastards out there. There were references to blunt instruments and knives between eyes, and while some comments were outrageous, others were kind of funny. But Big Boy was a living being. I couldn’t do anything anyone suggested, except one person said to buy Alka Seltzer and put it into the water. The fish would be rendered unconscious. I thought I could do that. I didn’t want him to suffer. I went to Walgreens and while buying the stuff I felt like a murderess, like I was buying strychnine, or a gun. I bought the stuff home and couldn’t do the job. I stuck the box in the drawer and went to bed. The next morning Big Boy was gone. I said my fish blessing over him and gave him a fond farewell.
So, I was left with a bottom feeder once again. Old Man always hangs out down at the bottom of the tank he’s an old guppy, bottom feeder, catfish…I have no idea. He’s old and ornery. You should see me trying to catch him. Once he flipped out of a plastic jug and fell into the garbage disposal. I was totally panicking, and ran around for a minute or so shrieking, “Oh, no. Oh, no,” and trying to figure out a plan of action. I never thought I’d get him out of there, but finally he let me scoop him up. He’s fast. My kids named him the shit eating fish a lot of years ago. He’s outlived so many goldfish and every time the fish die I swear I’m done with owning fish. I say I will not buy another. But then Old Man goes all nutso on me and he starts darting around the tank and crashing into the sides of it, and I end up feeling sorry for him.
I brought her home on Easter weekend. She’s a pretty little, bright orange, ordinary goldfish: a $5.99 special. Old Man did not like her at first. He sulked and pouted beneath his bridge. Then he’d swim out and dive bomb her. I watched them closely all day, thinking I might have to save Tequila. But she was fine. She’d swim all around Old Man and shake her little butt and be all cute and everything. I gave him a good talking to, and advised him to be gracious and welcoming. By evening they were hanging out together, which was sweet because Old Man is normally grumpy. He’s a loner as a rule. But not now, now he’s all frisky and happy. He hardly ever seeks solace under the bridge.
So, how about that? I speak fish. What about you? Do you speak fish, dog, cat, bunny, gerbil, or lizard? Tell me all about it, because then I can tell my fish your stories.