A year ago, I somehow found myself forking over some $30 to a teenaged cashier at Pets Unlimited while F held a plastic bag containing a fish I knew I would regret even before we left the store. The little red and blue betta, named Fin because my kid is super creative when it comes to naming things, was set up in a little bowl with faux bamboo atop a bookshelf in our dining room and I did my best to remember to feed it daily.
One of the deciding factors in agreeing to a fish was the knowledge that it would distract my sweet child from the fact that I’d been turning down his request for a hamster. Fish are quiet. Fish don’t kick shavings all over the place. Fish don’t smell bad. And while the cat might eat both, there is definitely less mess with the 1″ fish than the furry little rodent. Right?
What I seemingly forgot is that there is exactly zero ROI on a fishie purchase.
I cannot pet it. I cannot snuggle it. It is not happy when I come home. It doesn’t curl up at my feet. It doesn’t do funny things. The only thing it does is poop in its water, which I must then clean, and because it makes no noise sometimes I forget that it exists. The fact that this thing is still alive blows my mind.
I was standing in the kitchen scrubbing its bowl yesterday when I contemplated my hatred for this little creature. F forgets about it as often as I do, the cat likes to drink its water and it’s obviously not loving life in its little plastic box. I thought about accidentally throwing out the fish with the tank water but then I felt guilty – would F be sad? Could I really kill this poor little fish? Instead, I cleaned his little tank, fed him and put he and the tank back in their home.
Hours later, while I was making dinner, F ran into the kitchen visibly upset. The fish is dead, Mama!” Not realizing he was referring to his betta, I responded with “yes, buddy. That’s why I’m cooking it.” I can’t tell you how well that went over. Once I realized we were discussing two very different things, I followed F to see that our fish wasn’t dead it just gave zero fucks because it is a 1″ fish that lives in a little plastic box of nothingness. Reassurance was given, dinner was made, F was happy.
It’s so weird how Fin didn’t even come up and eat his food, Mama! I fed him like 10 pieces.
Mhmm. Wait. Did you feed the fish?
Yeah, I gave him like 10 pieces! Wasn’t that good, Mama?
(… Maybe the fish will die of gluttony.)