Fresh Fish: From Fish Bowl to Toilet Bowl

Posted on July 11, 2011


Our goldfish, Aunt Agatha, recently died after a two day battle with floatsidewaysitis.  (Note: If you name your goldfish Aunt Agatha or Uncle Fred, you can use their deaths to get out of social engagements.  “I can’t come to your son’s bar mitzvah because Aunt Agatha died.  The children aren’t handling it well at well. The Fonz was the one who found her, just floating on her side, eyes open, cheeks bloated.”  Note Note: This excuse becomes less effective if used as an excuse not to attend a real aunt’s funeral.)

Hers was a long, and I hope, fulfilling eighteen-month existence.  We shared some good times and made so many memories together, like the time she swam around in her bowl.  I guess that’s it.

She lived in a bowl used as a bookend on a shelf above our TV, and because I’m certain goldfish grow bored, I frequently rotated the book butting up against her bowl.  When I flushed her, it made me feel good to think she was able to see twenty different book covers in her life, probably a lot more than most fish and a strong argument for raising animals in captivity.

Who's a good fish?

From her position above the TV, I always felt conscious of her watching us watch TV.  I figured she could only tell if the movie was good or not by reading our reactions, so I tried to be as expressive as possible.  I would act dramatically surprised and fling my popcorn bowl into the air, even if I had seen the movie before and already knew the butler did it.  Whenever I cried at the end of The Karate Kid, I told my wife I was doing it for Aunt Agatha.

I purchased a new fish last week and named her Aunt Dahlia, but she’ll never be able to replace Aunt Agatha in our hearts, unless she can do everything Aunt Agatha could, like swim and eat food.  Learning to blink would put her over the top.

Aunt Dahlia appeared to be the strongest and most energetic swimmer while at the pet store, but once I placed her in the bowl at home, she failed to demonstrate much enthusiasm.  Her swimming style lacked its previous speed and grace and now resembled more of a lying-on-the-bottom style.

I’ve read talking to your pets can help raise their spirits, so I tried talking Aunt Dahlia out of the doldrums, but she never seemed especially interested in my conversation and she never answered any of my questions.  I could never think of anything to talk about, and our discussions never evolved past, “Who’s a good fish?  You are!  You’re a good fish!  Who’s a good fish?”  I guess we just don’t have much in common.

Aunt Dahlia is looking better now, and I hope she can look forward to a long life of at least a year and maybe ten or twelve book covers.  I’m going to start with The Old Man and The Sea.

Posted in: Columns