When I was growing up, my dad had many, many fish tanks throughout our house. There were four or five in the living room, more in the kitchen, and we even had a 50 gallon tank on the dining room table (which meant that I didn’t eat at a dining table when I was growing up). I actually didn’t mind the one on the dining table, since it housed goldfish that were initially mine, and lived seemingly forever. My mom got me goldfish in kindergarten, and then I won a few more in second grade at my school’s fall festival. Those lived for a long time, and a couple were still alive when I got to take home the class goldfish, Spot, at the end of 7th grade. Spot was still alive while I was in college, and there were other fish with him in the tank. Goldfish grow to match the size of the tank you keep them in, and these fish were very large. Several of them loved to be petted, and I spent some quality time with my hand in the fish tank.
Despite liking my goldfish, overall I’ve never really been a fish person. The things that seem to make most people love fish are the exact things that I hate. They say that the sound of running water is supposed to be relaxing, but to me that sound in your own home is akin to nails on a chalkboard. Then there’s that thing about how watching fish swimming in a tank is supposed to be tranquil and put people at ease. I can’t watch them swim back and forth – it drives me crazy, the idea of being cooped up, swimming back and forth with no purpose and no escape! That’s why, other than one failed attempt at setting up a goldfish tank in college, I’ve stayed away from aquatic creatures. The rapid death of my college goldfish had a bit to do with it, as well (R.I.P. fishies!)
Then a few months ago, I set up a SeaMonkey tank, and started growing those tiny shrimp. I love them! They’re adorable, insanely easy to care for, and very hardy. The only thing I’m not a fan of is the constant SeaMonkey sex. They’re always doing it. I don’t know if I would actually buy SeaMonkeys for a kid; not because I’m puritanical, mind you, but because I don’t know how I’d explain the fact that they have sex for weeks at a time, take a day off, and get it on some more. Maybe kids don’t notice stuff like that? Big questions, lol.
Anyway, so I asked for a small tank for Christmas, thinking that I’d set up a humongous SeaMonkey colony, and have hundreds of tiny little fuckers (literally) swimming about. But then after I got the tank, I thought that I’d rather get something else to go in it, like bigger shrimp. I set off to the pet store to buy some ghost shrimp, as The Man and I had seen some a few days before, but when I got there, there was only one left. I felt bad taking just one, so I turned to leave, thinking I’d come back again in a few days to check their stock.
On my way out the door, I saw the betta fish display. I said that I’m not a fish person, but I’ve always been ESPECIALLY not a betta person. I hated their little jars, and the fact that they’re supposed to be somewhat aggressive. I didn’t really like their fancy colors or tails, either. So maybe I am a bit puritanical, because what I was really thinking was that they had some nerve, being so pretty but so rude. So anyway, here I am, in the fish section, looking at bettas, when suddenly I realized that this is what I needed in my life…a mean little fish that can live in a small tank, and probably survive anything I mistakenly did to it. So I looked through all of their individual fish tupperwares, and found the least attractive fish I could find, figuring he wouldn’t get chosen by anyone else, and would most likely die there in his tiny plastic prison. Plus, when I picked him up, I thought we shared a moment. There was a hopeful look in his glassy little eyes. I took him home.
His name is Simon, after Simon Pegg, since he’s also pale and pretty nondescript. Munkey keeps trying to push his tank off of the ledge at night, so he has to be covered with a towel and bolstered with a couple of large sweet potatoes. Other than that, he’s doing peachy keen. The Man thinks I’m a nutter, but I talk to Simon a few times a day, and he always comes to the front of the tank to stare at me. We’re best buddies, this fish and I. I do hope I don’t kill him.