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Thursday, March 12, 2015


My sister had guppies when we were kids. That was supposed to be a pet.
I didn’t get it. What kind of pets are fish for a kid?
The oldest of us, my brother, got a dog. My older sister got a cat. Then my other sister got fish. It all seemed to be going down hill. I was the youngest, so I didn’t bother asking for a pet. I didn’t really want an ant farm, and I figured that was next in line.
Is a pet a pet if you can’t pet the pet? Aren’t you supposed to be able to cuddle a pet? I mean, even an iguana, like the really mellow one I met at Bernie’s house that spent all day gnawing leaves off his five foot pot plant, can be scratched under the chin. I’ve never met a fish that will let you scratch him under the chin. Maybe a bent index finger looks too much like a hook.
So what do you do with a fish? You can’t teach it to fetch; I tried it. Sure they go after the thumb tack when you throw it in the tank, but once they figure out they can’t eat it, they lose all interest.
“Headley – why are there thumb tacks in the bottom of my aquarium?”
“Search me – they’re your fish.”
I used to stand there for hours waiting for the moving wallpaper to do something interesting. Once in a while I would tap on the glass, until Mom set a rag and a bottle of Windex next the tank with a note – “You tap it, you clean it.”
Finally it occurred to me why my parents bought fish. It was because I stood there for hours, tapping or not tapping the glass. I wasn’t messing up the house, breaking stuff, eating all the Pop Tarts, or hatching fiendish plots to annoy my siblings. Fish aren’t pets, they are child pacifiers. I was spending so much time trying to figure out how they were pets that I didn’t realize – the pet was me.
So I plotted to steal my brother’s dog – that’s another post.
Maybe it’s like what Douglas Adams wrote in the Hitchhiker series. We don’t do experiments on mice – they do them on us.
 Maybe fish get bored of sitting around in a pond looking at the same slimy rock and submerged Uniroyal. Maybe the fish arrange for us to dredge them out and put them in PH balanced environment with a nice plastic castle, a regular food supply, and a minimum of predatory waterfowl.
And how do the fish see us? Are we like moving wallpaper to them? Maybe we’re like a really annoying television program that they can’t turn off.
“Here comes that boy to tap on the glass.”
“Oh, I hate re-runs. Hey, Gill, change the channel, will you?”
“I would, but the underwater remote hasn't been invented yet.”

And thanks to Gill, I have an idea for yet another post.

You can blame this post on MPK who put this vid up on Facebook.