Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Fish Tale

At last weekend's Township Day, my oldest kid won a goldfish by throwing a pingpong ball into some sort of small receptacle. The goldfish, promptly named "Goldie" (guess who named it?), took up residence at my in-law's house. This is right and just for a few reasons. First of all, we've already got three kids and a bunny, not to mention a husband who used to be a neat freak but now isn't nearly as tidy as he likes to think he is (shh -- don't tell him that). So taking care of another living creature, even a measly fish, ain't gonna cut it. Second, the one who would ultimately be taking care of it, a.k.a., Me, isn't a big fan of fish for pets. If I'm going to clean up after something else and feed it, it better have fur and be available for a cuddle. (Hence, the husband.) Okay, call me speciesist, but that's how I feel. Pets that don't resemble plush toys need not apply. Finally, and perhaps most delicious to the parents, it's high time the in-laws dealt with the emotional ramifications of something like a goldfish.

Sure enough, by yesterday, poor Goldie had already up and died.

Heh.

My mother-in-law called Tom in a tizzy. (She doesn't get out much.) She plans to go to the pet shop and buy another goldfish. She is concerned that our oldest will be devastated at the loss of dear Goldie. My mother-in-law simply doesn't appreciate the peculiar hard-heartedness of kids. They can cry for an hour because you threw some crappy plastic Happy Meals toy away, but take the death of the family cat without batting an eyelash. (I, on the other hand, had to be sedated after the loss of my dear kitty and still get misty sometimes when no one is watching.) So I'm not at all convinced that the kid is going to give a rat's ass about the goldfish.

My mother-in-law also forgets the incredible powers of observation and memory that my oldest has. This is the kid who, at the age of four, shut my fretting father up when he was dithering about whether he could find his way from our house to my in-law's for some family get-together: "It's easy, Poppop. You go North on Route 476 -- that's the Blue Route -- for a few miles and get off at exit 19. Go right -- that's east -- on Ridge Pike and then after you pass the high school, make a left on [Blank] St. The house number is XXXX."

Is some spurious stand-in goldfish gonna fool this kid?

My mother-in-law is already thinking about what to tell him if he notices the fish looks different. "If it's a different size, I'll say Goldie grew," she decided. "If it has different stripes or spots, I'll just say it faded."

As Dr. Evil would say, "Ri-i-ight."

But, God, it sure is nice for this to be someone else's problem.


A Bookworm's Progress: April

Geez, this dyeing thing sure is cutting into my reading time.

1. The Bounty, Caroline Alexander. This book got a lot of good press, but maybe I should start getting my book reviews from People magazine instead of the New York Times. Slow, with mind-numbing detail ("Captain McSealegs, who was the son of Elvis McSealegs and his Belgian showgirl wife Nan Tucket, and the grandson of Lord Wellington's third wife's second cousin, Colonel Wobbly McSealegs, was, in an uncanny coincidence, the brother of the nephew of the gardener of Fletcher Christian's brother Edward, who travelled with the woodmaker who turned the masts of the Bounty herself."). Let's just say I skimmed. A whole lot.

2. The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion. From a soporifically slow historical novel to a contemporary memoir that captures raw grief with painful immediacy.

3. A Death in Belmont, by Sebastian Junger. The author of The Perfect Storm. Thought-provoking analysis of a murder in the Boston suburb where Junger grew up, set against the backdrop of the Boston Strangler serial killings.

4. Blue Blood, by Edward Conlon. Only a chapter in, but enjoying this. Conlon is a Harvard-educated NYC cop. He writes about his experiences (well, at least so far) with skill and power. What say you, Lars?

26 comments:

the hanged man said...

Goldie. That reminds me of my friend Dave's grandmother who named her pets based on how they looked. A black cat was "Blackie," a cat with white paws was "Boots." Once while driving somewhere, Dave say a cow with a white stripe round its belly. "If my grandmother owned that cow, she would name it 'Belt'."

I'm envious of your reading prowess. Here I was, patting myself on the back for having finished "Freakanomics" in time to return it to the library...

Lee said...

Our house came with a very large fish tank and several goldfish (5, The Beatles+Stu or Pete) and a bottom feeder (George Martin). We're very bad parents and very few new additions actually make it.

My boyfriend brought home a couple of tiny catfish the other day, as I drew a breath to say something, he interrupted, "can we please STOP naming them?!"

Carol said...

Tom read Freakonomics and quite liked it, John.

I have often said that if my kid were in charge of naming me, my name would be "Blondie Fatass."

Ween said...

As a child my grandparents pet-sat our goldfish, Susan & Linda (in our house we always give our pets people names), while we were on vacation for a week. Upon return, my sister and I made a beeline for the girls, and well, we immediately knew they were different. Then proceded to argue over naming them, we settled upon Susan 2 and Linda 2. We did not shed a tear over their death, my sister did over me not letting HER choose the name, but not the fish. My grandmother was suprised and a little relived. But I think she was a bit bugged that she had gone to so much effort to find identical matches. Years later she told us that after many days of over feeding she walked into find 'em floating. She took their dead bodies over to the pet store to find the closest match. She was very picky and the clerk was frustrated by her, and had even told her that we would know no matter what.

Gina

mindy said...

You will update us on the outcome of A Fish Tale, won't you?

jackie said...

My husband strongly considered getting an iguana for am eldest when she was 4. At the time, she had twin 1 year old brothers. I almost shot him. Same reason as you stated. Who was going to end up looking after the fool thing? My husband who was 40 going on 6? Or the kids? It certainly wouldn't be me. I'm getting her an iguana as a moving out present in another 9 years. If she still wants on that is. Any one want to bet what the chances of THAT are?

turtlegirl76 said...

I threw a ping-pong ball into a little round bowl back in the summer of 1994. Mine was named Goldie too. Goldie finally died last summer at the rip old age of 11 and at about 15" long. You got lucky. It had grown so big at one point that it could only swim forward a bit, then backward a bit in our 10 gallon tank. My parents actually bought a bigger tank for it! And when it died, she put it in the freezer so I could say goodbye to it when I came home at Christmas! I said "that's ok, please just bury it." My God.

doloreshaze said...

You'll have to keep me posted on the Junger--I read an excerpt, and it seems fascinating.
xo,
L.

Charity said...

I'm so enjoying your "book reports" each month. I just finished "The Eyre Affair", and completely enjoyed it. I've reserved the next one at the library, and am looking forward to it's arrival. Thanks for the tip!

Franklin said...

Alas, poor Goldie.

Won't the kid notice when he whistles and calls out "Here, Goldie!" and the fish just sits there, looking bored?

Regarding kids and their heard-heartedness, when I was about six my parents gave away our two poodles without saying anything to me, and I didn't notice for a month.

Joe said...

Not being a parent, I don't give parenting advice.

But, being a caddy, gay man, I certainly judge parenting all the time.

Wouldn't it just be easy to say, "Oh, I'm sorry hon, I found Goldie floating yesterday."? If the kid grieves, great, if not, even better.

"Blondie Fat-Ass"...still laughing at that. I think you should ask him to give pet names to all your friends. I got dibs on "Nelly No-Ass".

Franklin said...

I wanna be "Shorty Round-Ass."

Norskybear said...

I haven't read the Conlon yet. My prior experience with "true blue" books hasn't been great. Life on the street isn't nearly that exciting. A well-written book of fiction is always a pleasure to read; I just have to suspend my disbelief at some of the war stories. I'll have to pick it up and let you know what I think.

I'm partial to the fur and cuddling myself...

doloreshaze said...

Can I be Dykey Potbelly?

Kathy Merrick said...

Can I be Not-dykey Potbelly?
Or Good Legs No Waisty?

Michelene said...

I'll take "Baby Got Backass".
The year my oldest daughter turned 5, my husband, despite my nearly frantic pleas against the idea, bought her a turtle for Christmas. Santa Claus brought the wee reptile special delivery on Christmas Eve. Sure enough, on Christmas morning the turtle was dead. My husband merely wished he was dead.

Jay said...

Why didn't she just get one of those plastic fish that you can get in dollar stores and pop it in the tank. If the kids noticed she could say that it had been Assimilated by the B'Org and that was why it was no longer soft and fishy, but that it was still perfectly healthy as long as nobody made contact with it (because they too would then become assimilated). Fun.

Mindy said...

Thanks for the chuckle, Jay!

Carol said...

I shitcanned the comment from Anonymous & my original response. I don't have to defend myself to anybody on my blog, let alone someone who doesn't have the balls to sign their name.

(Besides, my sister-in-law probably wrote it.)

All the Way With Knitting said...

Oh dear ..snorting now over Franklin ,Joe and Joe ( Aus) ...I know what you mean about goldfish..boring little buggers .Angie.

All the Way With Knitting said...

Sorry that is "Jay" from Aus...still in a half-coma this morning possibly due to being local election day here and if there is no Green party candidate I'm stuck .

techygeekgirlknits said...

My dad always had a rule that we couldn't have pets that he couldn't "flush", thus lots of fish. Good thing none of us 5 kids were too attached and there were many a "burial at sea"! Love your blog!

Theresa said...

This is a little off topic, but I'm just so exicted... I bought my first Black Bunny yarn today! When I saw the Frost on the Pumpkin the other day I just had to have it, and by the time I got my PayPal thing set up the Lipstick pink DK had appeared, so I had to have both. :)

Carol said...

Thanks, Theresa! Now, can you tell me what it is about Novato, California?! I swear, you're the third person from there I've shipped to this week.

Not complaining mind you. Just very appreciative.

Theresa said...

I didn't know my fellow Novato residents were so into yarn. What can I say, we have good taste. :)

Evelyn said...

Lumpy McBlandhair says hi.