|Stupid fish, with stupid, pretty coloring.|
Three years ago, my oldest son “won” a goldfish at a local pecan festival. It was one of those local Boy Scout booths where, if there’s no line, they’ll let you play until you do win. Porter won pretty quickly, which meant that his younger brother, Tristan, had to win as well.
The Boy Scouts manning the booth were very cool, and very patient while my then 4-year-old tried and tried and tried to win the goldfish. It was, he informed me, his greatest life’s ambition since fifteen minutes previous when his brother won.
Finally, whatever the “skill” needed to win the much-desired goldfish finally found Tristan, and bam, we had two goldfish. My wife and I didn’t expect the little feeders to last the trip home, much less the week.
This is where the mistakes on my end started to pile up.
The stupid fish survived the ride home. We dropped them into an actual goldfish bowl, which we had for some kind of “scientific experiment” and I bought the smallest container of food.
Tristan named the goldfish: Dash and Sonic.
|Artist's Rendition of Dash as a Young Fish|
He also insisted that they should have “more friends” and I don’t know if you know this, but for “reasonable” requests like this, it’s really hard to say no to a 4-year-old. I also thought, since these fish would likely all die within weeks, that it would be a good life lesson.
Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.
We made a deal—if Tristan fed the fish every day for the entire month, I would allow him to have more fish. This would also mean that we’d need a bigger tank, but I thought I was pretty safe in this deal. Tristan can be incredibly focused when he has his mind set on a goal (playing a game, watching TV). After the Great Over-Feeding on day three (I’m certain those fish started a cult based around the Big Blond Blur Who Sends Mana from the Heavens) he fed those damn fish, and they made it through the month.
Much chagrined, and with the dogged tenacity that only a 4-year-old can muster and maintain, I did some research on keeping goldfish, bought a 30 gallon tank, top-of-the-line filter, rainbow rocks, a couple of plastic plants and a poly-resin hollow log. We picked up the “friends” Tristan wanted (he picked them out himself) at five for a dollar, and now had seven.
Promptly, two of the new fish died.
I did not hide this fact from the boys. I made certain they knew and watched as I took the fish out. There were no tears, or much sadness at all, except for me. That should have been a clue.
Over the next three years, the number of fish would continue to decrease. Dash and Sonic continued to survive, as the deaths started to rack up. About eight months ago, we were down to four fish, two of the new “friends” and the two originals. I assume Sonic went first, though it was hard to confirm. One of the “friends” went next, and we were down to two. A beautiful white-and-gold koi-type goldfish, and Dash.
Dash left us six months ago, and the koi goldfish was the only one who remained.
|The Great Goldfish Bowl in the Sky.|
This morning, we lost the last fish.
On the one hand, as I turned off the filter for the last time, I was relieved. Going on vacation was a bit of a pain, and keeping the tank clean was even more so. For a single fish, that koi certainly generated a lot of filth.
On the other, I’ve always been a pet-person—dogs especially. Even if the fish only saw me as a big blurry hand pouring out their food, I liked them. It was a thing for me to feed the fish in the morning before I went to work, and as soon as I got home. I kept my gear near the fish tank, inside the stand, so that I wouldn’t forget.