If I ever live alone, I think I’ll get a pet.
Not a puppy, or a kitten. Not even a grown-up, already-housebroken version of those two.
Nope. I think I’ll get a fish. And not just any old fish. I think I might get a beta.
Now, all along, I’ve thought beta fish were the silliest of all fishes to get as a pet. Yes, they’re pretty but you can’t even have two of them unless you keep them separated! And fish in general don’t do much but moved their lips (?) open and shut and eat and poop in the water and why would anyone want one? True, I’ve lived with a piranha once. That was cool when he ate the gold fish and all these sparkly little golden orange scales glittered around in the water but that’s not what I’m talking about today.
A while back, Ethan got a beta. He bought it with his own money. I asked how do you take care of it. Easy enough instructions. Feed him a few of these little pellets a couple times a day. Clean the bowl occasionally. (I’m still sketchy on this one…it involves putting conditioner in the water so I usually leave this to Ethan’s mother, my daughter, who I’m pretty sure thinks I should be committed or something.)
Ethan was so excited. I’m thinking to myself how can a beta be exciting at all? I mean, they live in mud puddles in the wild. Mud puddles. Geez. And they have no social skills. How could they, living in that mud puddle and not even knowing if there was another fish an inch from your face! But in our house, little animals don’t seem to wait long for that walk down the Green Mile (so far, that’s a goldfish or two, and some hermit crabs that hibernated a little too long. I pity the creature that breaks my daughter’s resolve on the no dog/no cat ruling.)
So, Bob the Fish (so it says on the printed label Ethan proudly stuck on the tank) stays in the kitchen. The hub of family activity. It started out that way so the adults can see him and remember to check to make sure Bob is fed. “Good morning, Bob,” you say as you pour your coffee. “Ethan, did you feed Bob?” “Yep.” Well, I’ll give him just a few bits just in case Ethan is lying.
See, if you moisten your finger and get a tiny pellet on your fingertip and hover it just a smidge above the water, Bob the Fish will look up at that tasty morsel, wag his tail excitedly and jump up and grab it from your finger!! How cool is that? A performing fish.
And I dare anyone to just try to fix some toast, or a sandwich…anything which requires you to use the counter space in front of Bob. No, that’s not the dare, silly. The dare is to not give in to those sad little pouty fisheyes that Bob the Fish can make, hoping you might throw him a scrap of a pellet or two “because after all you’re eating and I’m not and I’m so very hungry because it’s been two whole hours since someone remembered to feed me and you’re trying to ignore me so I’ll wiggle my tail a little to get your attention and I’ll stare at you no matter where you move along the counter just until…Oh! Thank you for that tasty bite!” In all honesty, I don’t know what else he’s capable of doing to procure said morsel because I always give in.
Another good thing about Bob the Fish is that I can talk to him and he listens. Perhaps I should reword that. Sometimes, when no one else is at home, like today for instance, and I make myself a cup of tea, again today, having a little fish around means that I can go around that seemingly empty house, speaking out loud to apparently no one. A passerby might think I am going crazy but of course, I’m not. I am only including Bob into sometimes light and trivial, and sometimes deep and meaningful conversation, making sure that he feels important enough to be drawn into such a discussion. After all, he was stuck for the longest time in that tiny little clear plastic cup and that has got to lower your morale. Your self-esteem is probably nonexistent by the time some little boy convinces his mother to let him take you home.
So today, I was chatting with him about what to write in my blog besides the fact that I’m, um, working on the books as always, and Bob came up with this grand idea of writing about how nifty it was to have him around!
Now, I want to make this crystal clear. I don’t speak Beta, or any other fish language. But I can read body language. When I posed the question “What should I write about, Bob?” whilst pouring the tea into my cup, he puffed up his pretty little fins and looked very charming, I must say. I asked him if he wanted a little change in scenery and popped some scrapbooking paper behind him while taking pictures of the little dear. (He didn’t really like the red paper and he blended in with the blue. He rather liked the yellow and was quite the little camera hog. With the red background, he stood still. Literally. I snapped some shots, and videotaped him and he didn’t move at all. He. Did. Not. Like. Red.) Then I realized he’s saying the Beta equivalent of “Look at Me! Look at Me!!”
Yep, I really like this little dude.
Or maybe it’s because he has a name plate. That’s impressive, too.