Posted on 22 April 2009

Once upon a time, there was a graduate student who reeeeeally wanted a pet. Actually, she wanted a dog. But when she got to the pet store she realized, once again, that getting a dog would have to wait: dogs are too expensive and demanding for a broke grad student. So she decides to get a fish. A siamese fighting fish, because they’re small, fairly clean, and very pretty. And you can keep them in a bowl without a filter (ka-ching! sold).

So my roommate and I trotted home with our new fish, proud parents itching to initiate “Kanye” to his new home with a few charming bowl ornaments procured from Target. Welcome home, fishie! Kanye did very well for the first few months. He seemed happy enough, swimming around making bubbles and endlessly flaunting his flowery blue tail. But all was not well. One day I came back from class and our fine young gangstah was floating, belly-up, in his glass bowl. Oh tragedy! But then, that’s the good thing about fish: because personal attachment is slow to form with a creature you can’t communicate with, you can usually be sure of a fairly smooth recovery from loss.

So off we went to the pet store once more. Ferris, our next fish, survived almost a year but couldn’t take the cross-country trip home at the start of the summer. Then came Skittle, who died while my parents were fish-sitting and let the house temperature drop too low (“Mom! They’re tropical fish! Did you really think he would survive in a 60 degree tank?”). Oh well. As it turned out, my mom felt far more guilty than she should have, considering; and even left poor Skittle floating in his bowl until my return, when I was able to give him a “proper burial” on the porcelain express. There was one other one somewhere in there, but neither I nor my boyfriend can remember it’s name…which, I suppose just helps to prove my point.

That said, my current fish, Bean, has become a true exception to the rule. He normally gets excited when you walk into the room, fluttering around on the other side of the glass and, quite literally, “checking you out.” He likes to play with his “toys”–i.e., his fish food canister (which bears a very colorful picture of a siamese fighting fish) and a miniature lava lamp. I feel a special attachment to Bean, moreso than most of my other fishies. Which meant that I was particularly distressed when he fell ill this past weekend. In a groggy, sleep-laden daze I wandered into the kitchen Sunday morning, to find him turned a pale shade of his naturally deep red, and swimming crookedly around his tank like a drunken sailor. Eventually he stopped swimming almost entirely, and for the past few days has been hanging out exclusively in a little cave underneath the water heater. Bean??!! He’s obviously got some sort of sickness, but I look up his symptoms online and they don’t seem to match anything of the charming fish diseases I’m able to¬†find. I come home every day hoping that maybe he’s undergone a miraculous recovery, that he’ll be swimming around cheerfully, just waiting to greet me upon my arrival. But as of yet, I’ve had no such luck. Suddenly, I find myself realizing that I’m going to miss this fishie…more than I want to admit. Maybe it’s time I get a dog?

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