Thursday, February 14, 2013

Trying Not To Be A Tropical Fish

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I sometimes stop to see what the fish in my daughter’s new fish tank are doing.

They are always doing the same thing.

Darting around like they have somewhere to go. Looking alarmed. One slightly bigger one chases his brethren. The others dart away, panicked. Why? It’s not like he has any teeth. And then, a few seconds later, they wander back and he chases them again.

My daughter got one of another type. According to the lady at the pet store, this kind lives alone. He occupies himself by eating whatever he’s finding off the bottom or just drifting in the unvarying current made by the filter.

This pet-store lady, who reminded me strongly of our bully fish, informed us, when we wanted to get a black-and-white spotted fish that another lady from the same pet store said would be fine, that we couldn't have that one. She asked us if the other lady was “the blonde” (yes) and sniffed, “She doesn’t know her fish.”

The cashier carefully explained the store’s fish return policy. If one of these fish dies within two weeks, we could freeze the body in a baggie and bring it back with the receipt – very important to have the receipt – to get our money back.

Yeah, right. We're going to do that, for a fish that cost less than $2.

For these fish, you’d think the trip to our house in plastic bags was a life-altering event, something that would have them questioning their assumptions about reality. Is there something beyond the water I swim in? But no. Dart, drift, nibble, bully, cower, over and over: that’s it.

Reminds me of some people I've met, if I think about it too hard. So, I'll go nibble something instead.

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