Sunday, February 22, 2015

Kids, Fire, and Suicidal Goldfish

I never liked kids too much. If you know me, you may think this concerning, as I live with two of them. I was never focused on having any, figuring there would only be a small percentage of a chance that I’d be even slightly fond of my own child. My ex-husband and I did not have any children together. He liked them even less than I do, and I doubt they would have enjoyed his company much at all. One time I saw an elderly, sick cat get up and leave the room when he walked in. That should tell you enough. Ironically, I ended up dating a man who has two kids. We have been together for almost four years now. From the beginning, I knew that if I wanted to have a chance with him, I could continue not liking kids, just as long as I didn’t dislike these two in particular. We are now a family of four humans (and by the way, it turned out that I love the kids to pieces), plus three parrots and two elderly goldfish who experienced some type a miracle by being restored to health after “resting” on the bottom of the tank for one week. By the way, they tend to do that now, every couple of weeks. They convene at the bottom left corner of the tank for a few days, and then start swimming normally again. I believe they are plotting something huge, and it makes me nervous. Their former tank-mates had become ill, and then dead, right before the current fish began staging their first sink-in at the bottom of the tank. Those deaths ended with two separate occasions of hearing boyfriend in the bathroom: “Thanks for the fun times. I love you. Goodbye,” followed by the flush of the toilet. I wasn’t sure what these fun times entailed, but I didn’t bother to ask.

I would really like to continue with this entry as I had planned it, but now know that I need to write about the time when our largest goldfish committed suicide. It was December of 2012, right before I officially moved into the boyfriend’s house. I had been staying there a lot, but didn’t have my own key yet. I had my very own dresser drawer, which was lovely and exciting, but I was more comfortable spreading out my belongings in every available space of every single room in the house. That’s how I knew I almost lived there. The morning of the suicide, I locked the backdoor from the inside, as I normally did, and left for work. On the way there, I became paranoid that I had left my flat iron on. I was extra nervous because I was so close to officially moving in with boyfriend. I felt like burning down the entire house might work against me. I had to make sure it was unplugged. I went to his parents to get the spare key for the back door, which ended up not working. This led me to have to climb through a window in the rain. Once I finished breaking into the house, I ran upstairs to shut off the flat iron, in order to save the house from burning down. Naturally, I found that I had never left it on in the first place.

On the way to the front door, I noticed something orange on the floor in the dining room. I stopped to take a look, and to my horror, found that our largest fish, Mr. Roy Halladay, had jumped to an untimely death. I immediately started panicking. Of course, I called boyfriend; my first thought being that he could somehow fix the dead fish situation from work. I now know that this was the dumbest move I could have made. At the time, I did not anticipate that he was going to tell me to pick up the fish. Dead fish just give me the “creepy-crawlies” (one of my mother’s favorite terms), and having to relocate a dead fish is one of my worst nightmares. Angel directed me to scoop the fish up into the green net that we keep for these purposes, and then dispose. To my dismay, I noticed that the fish, while very near death, was still breathing slightly-- not enough to have survived if I had put him back in the water, but still breathing, nonetheless. There was no way I was going to be able to endure this task. I presented boyfriend with the following argument of logic, while crying on the phone: It was about 10am on a weekday. Normally, no one would be in the house at this time, given that the kids are at school and we both work. I reminded him-- if I didn’t think I had set the house on fire, I wouldn’t have had broken in through a window, and I would never be where I was standing, at that moment. I would have been at work, just like any other day. He would have gotten home before me, and fish disposal services would have been his responsibility. My closing remark: ‘Why interfere with a situation that we wouldn’t have known about on a normal day?’ Boyfriend did not agree with my rationale, although I thought my argument was pretty solid. In fact, I was pretty pleased with myself for having come up with such a strong case while panicking at the same time. “But you are home, and you did see it,” he kept saying. “You can’t just leave a fish on the floor.” I was still crying, but now I was mad at him, too. Why couldn’t he see that avoiding the situation and pretending that it didn’t happen, was the best option? I realized that he wasn’t going to let this go, and I didn’t want our relationship to end over a suicidal goldfish.

I picked up the net that we keep under the fish tank, and considered the task. The handle was only like one foot long, which was completely unacceptable. It would place my hand no more than 12-inches away from the fish. There was just no way. I decided to invent a device for people who need to pick up dead fish at more than 12-inches away. I figured this could be a very marketable product, and I would have felt quite proud of myself, if not in the throes of a crisis.
I taped the handle of the net to the end of a long broom. This put me at several feet away from the fish, which was still not ideal, but better that what I was dealing with before. Scenarios began to run through my mind. I imagined that when I touched the fish with the net, he would start going psychotic. Also, we have hardwood floors now, but at the time we had carpeting. My next image was one of attempting to pick the fish up, but inadvertently smashing it into the carpet because I couldn’t get the correct angle on the net. My further attempts to correct this would only make it worse, further smashing the fish until the carpet fibers were mixed with mashed goldfish. I took a deep breath and with my eyes nearly closed, I guided the goldfish into my Dead-Goldfish-Picker-Upper invention. It went smoother than I expected. Then I laid Mr. Roy Hallady on top of the trash, which I had pulled can in from the kitchen to the dining room, so I wouldn’t have to parade around the house with a dead fish. After that, I left the house as quickly as possible, not caring if it did go on fire, or even if it completely exploded two minutes after I left.

Rest in peace. I would also say "thanks for the fun times," but there really were none.

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