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Shane Ivey

Is this a mid-life crisis or a career change? Yes.

10

8

Lover of creatures large and small... sometimes

DISCLAIMER: No animals were hurt in the making of this story… unfortunately.



When you decide to have a child people don’t have to tell you how much responsibility you are taking on. You probably already know it. For the next 18 years, unless your child is a genius and gets a full ride to Harvard at 15, you will be responsible for the well being of this child. You will be responsible for ensuring that child’s happiness, and training it to accomplish tasks too numerous to count.

What most people don’t tell you is that you will bend over backwards to encourage your kid to do things. And as part of encouragement, you might do something out of the norm. Like say, buy a beta fish if your child becomes fully potty trained.

It’s benign enough. It’s a beta fish. It’s a fish. How long can it last? Two, maybe three months? It’s not like a cat that can last 15-25 years. Yeah. A fish is the perfect motivation to get my kid to use the potty. By the time she starts to forget about the fish it will be dead and we can just flush it, and forget it.

That is, of course, you are me. If you were me then you would still be stuck with that stupid fish two and a half years later. Your kid won’t even remember you have it and out of some ridiculous sense of responsibility you tell yourself that you can’t just flush a fish that is still living…

But if it were to die?…

Well, that is a different story.

The sad thing is that this could have all been avoided. My friend was asked to watch the fish while we went on vacation. We had only had the fish for a month or two and were fully prepared for it to be belly up by the time we got back. Ironically, it did actually die while we were gone. The problem was that my friend felt so bad that she went out and bought a fish that looked exactly like it so my daughter would never know.

Needless to say, my wife and I were less than thrilled at her kind gesture.

Every month we would tell ourselves that this was the month that the stupid fish would die. Every month hoping that that day would be it’s last. Fast forward two years and the damn thing is still around. He’s so healthy in fact that he started making bubbles in his bowl. I caught him doing it one morning and was so excited because I was sure that it was from a lack of oxygen in the water, or some rat poison had accidentally been mixed in with his food at the factory.

My wife rained on my parade when Google told her that what the fish was doing was in fact making a bubble nest for offspring. Turns out this fish is a wannabe father and he was preparing the nursery.

Well shit.

So, he’s actually very healthy. This wouldn’t do. This thing had to die. If only I could get it an MRI and find cancer, or read it the “Twilight” book series until, not being able to take it anymore, it leaps out of its bowl to end his suffering.

But no. This stupid fish is the frickin Michael Phelps of beta fish.

Well that was it. This SOB was going down. I systematically went through everything that I thought would kill him. I didn’t change his water for a month. I only conceded because my wife couldn’t stand the smell anymore.

And still the fish made his stupid bubbles.

I put him by the stove hoping the heat would kill him.

Nothing.

I sprinkled salt into his bowl one day. Ha! That would have to kill him. Beta fish are fresh water fish.

Still he swam.

The final solution came when my family was going to Disney World in late October. We were going to be gone for eight days, and wouldn’t you know it I forgot to ask anyone to watch the fish. Darn. Must have slipped my mind.

So we leave for Disney and I feel a certain sense of freedom. I have been set free.

When we get home I prepare how I will explain to my daughter that her fish, the fish that she has forgotten we had, has died and we need to flush him. I practice hiding my overwhelming joy that I have cleaved this burden from my life.

What I didn’t practice was how to hold by my complete contempt when I walk in the door and am greeted by a freshly made bubble nest by a very much alive, and healthy, beta fish.

But he wasn’t fed for eight days! The heat was turned off and it got down to 50 degrees in the house! It’s not fair!

After I collected myself from the crumpled mess on the kitchen floor, I went to consult Google. How did this happen? Is this thing a cyborg from the future that was sent back in time to drive me insane so I can’t grow into a commander that leads the human race to victory over the beta fish-people when they wage war on earth in 2039?

Nothing so ingenious. Turns out beta fish only eat every 2-3 days. I have been over feeding this thing pure protein pellets for 2 years. And it can withstand a wide range of water temperatures. Well shit.

Since the Disney trip the fish and I have come to a truce. I won’t try to kill him again, if he promises not to live past my daughter’s high school graduation in 2025.

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