My father asked me point blank the other day whether I was trying to kill the fish. He was referring to the goldfish in the tank in our dining room, the fish that will be 5 years old in October, the fish that is bigger than my hand and that I am convinced is part cat, because it has survived so many near-death experiences. I didn't have an answer for him.
My dad was alluding, of course, to the fact that I want my sofa table back. The fish is in a 10-gallon tank, atop my sofa table, taking up lots of space. Once the fish dies, I get my table back. When I'm in decorate mode, I hate the fish. It's a living thing, though, and I would never do anything intentionally--should I say consciously?--to hurt it, like pour bleach in the tank or something.
I admit that I do pour a lot of other chemicals in the tank though, mostly to keep the fish alive. There's Insto Chlor to remove chlorine and chloramine, on the rare occasion that I change the water, at least partially. There's Clear Water, to remove odors and cloudiness when I actually don't have time to change the water, even partially, and Nemo has to swim around in his own, er, debris for a while. We've also got Ammonia Chloramine Eliminator, to remove ammonia when his tail and fins start getting red, indicating that the levels are too high because he has been swimming in his own debris for too long. And of course, Maracide, for when Ich and other external parasites set in, along with my guilt. When it's time for Maracide, it's usually time for an intervention. Some type of fishy CPR.
No, I didn't major in marine life in college, and no, I didn't learn all of this at the cub scout trip to the aquarium last month. I learned it through experience. You never really know a fish until you live with it, as the saying goes. Nemo and I have been through a lot. The funny thing about fish is, even though they don't need to be walked or played with or even taken to the vet for shots, feeding them is not enough. I didn't really realize this until actually acquiring a fish. Feed it, clean its room and keep it warm is not a lot to ask, but sadly, I don't even do all those things as regularly as I should. So it's a wonder to me that Nemo has lived so long.
But he keeps on keepin' on, making kissy noises on top of the water at mealtimes and when he sees us playing with each other and the dog. He's one of the animals we feed each day, and though not as snuggly as the others, he does his best to participate with us. The sofa table, from where he can watch us eat and talk and play, is his world and through its window he watches us, its inhabitants. He seems to forgive me my transgressions and lapses in his care, by bouncing back to health every time.
Granted, it may be because he can't hear me joke to visitors that when he gets big enough, we're going to fry him up and eat him. But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Besides, even though I'd love to get my sofa table back, I wouldn't eat anything that lived in water that dirty.