Did you know that fish need oxygen? There is a finite supply of oxygen in the Badge of Honor LMC held high for her daddy to see. We would learn many things about Sprite the Fish Cagle over the next two hours. Husband looked at me and asked, "Why did you buy a fish?"
Really? Do you really think that I bought a fish? No. I sat in line totaling over an hour and watched her throw twelve ping pong balls at 20-something glass bowls and internally begged the man to take some pity on her. I even contemplated bribing the fish keeper. That's how low I almost sunk. No. No I didn't buy a fish. Because if I bought a fish that would mean that I am a pet person and that I am certainly not.
That's what I thought. Instead, I said, "We won it at the carnival today! It was super cool. Tell Daddy about it!"
Husband and I look at each other. Do you know how to care for a fish, he asks. I respond with a question mark and mumble something about water having to sit out for a week and he mentions that the fish has to acclimate to the water outside of the bag. To answer the question- No. No we don't a flipping thing about goldfish. But, it's a goldfish- how hard can it be?
I google "how to have a goldfish" and found the mecca of goldfish websites. Eighteen steps between me and a goldfish, complete with diagrams and pictures. It's a goldfish. How hard can it be?
A second website eliminated nine steps. "Nine steps to a goldfish" -- This one talked about test kits and nitrate verse nitrite. I go back to my original statement: It's a goldfish. According to the second website, in one month and three hundred well spent dollars, I too, could have a goldfish.
Brother had a fish at one point in our life. He and a bowl. and twelve rocks in the bottom of it. It was some kind of fighting fish. When he looked lonely, we would put him in front of the mirror and he would run into the side of the glass bowl. Save PETA the phone call. Brother no longer owns a fish.
The one thing I mention to husband is that one of those mecca websites said we needed a fifteen gallon tank. Do you know how much water 15 gallons is? Please don't say fifteen gallons. Because fifteen gallons is a lot of water. It is somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 pounds. Our new friend is tiny. For Pete's sake- he lived in a cooler with 600 other little friends before traveling to our abode in a plastic bag.
I reiterate: it's a goldfish and a free one, at that.
Husband loads the family up and we head to Pet Smart. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us- my mom is at a grocery store very near Parochial and kept wondering why she kept seeing kids holding fish in baggies and parents asking the store clerks if they carried any fish food. For the record: they didn't.
At Pet Smart, LMC was so excited about decorating Sprite's home and Bennie was so excited about seeing all kinds of animals that they were in stereo polyphony with: DADDY! dah-dee! DADDY! dah-dee! DADDY! dah-dee!
A foolish woman asks me if we need help.
"Husband- do we need help?"
Like a man asking for directions-- "No, we've got it."
I look at the woman and raise my eyebrows. She nods and says she'll be over there when we change our mind. Bennie and I round the corner to find that LMC has found all kinds of "flair" for Sprite's new home. A unicorn, rainbow, "girls rule" sign, pink treasure chest, pink castle, a tiara, partridge... pear tree... the usual.
Husband is a firm believer in life. This is shocking, I know. Even though he hunts- his shots are clean and nothing is wasted. No fish in his family was going to have a glass bowl for a home and a mirror for a friend. He was looking at beasts of aquariums- fifteen gallons, to be precise. At least he listens.
DADDY! A unicorn! dah-dee! pup-pee DADDY! sparkles! dah-dee! pup-pee DADDY! Bennie said there's a puppy? Where? dah-dee! pup-pee!
Husband looks at me over their heads and is contemplating laughing or screaming. He elects for laughing. I go find the woman who offered her assistance.... but found Philippe instead. Philippe loved fish and has several aquariums filled with all kinds of fish. Philippe got fish fever a few years ago and just kept adding to his lot.
Philippe was eager to help us.
Philippe recommended an 8 gallon tank- unless, of course, we too, got fish fever. We would also need two bags of rocks to help his biosphere. I kid you not, he said biosphere. I was too desperate for his help to tell him that was not the correct use of biosphere. Pauley Shore could confirm this. And flair. He didn't call it flair- I did. Philippe was unimpressed that I kept saying flair. He chose to focus on "accessories" for our fish, Sprite The Fish Cagle.
Accessories... flair... whatever-- they had all kinds of it and LMC was eager to fill the buggy with more ornamentation for Sprite the Fish Cagle. As Philippe and I walked off to discuss water treatment and food, she added more pieces to her home.
Fish food comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. There's DHA tablets (DHA-- you know, that vitamin that comes from... fish) to make them smarter. Omega-3 pellets to enhance the DHA. Bloodworms, color enhancers, even phosphorus to make them glow in the dark.
"My brother had a fish when I was a kid and he had flakes. Do you still use flakes?"
Flakes... yes, Pet Smart carries flakes. Five minutes of telling me how little Sprite the Fish Cagle needs to be fed, he cautiously hands me the flakes- valued at $5.24. But, if I want the best of the best fish food, made by SUPER FISH for exceptional fish, it would cost an additional $.18. I up-sell myself on the eighteen cents to make Sprite the Fish Cagle an exceptional fish.
Can't call me cheap.
LMC and I negotiate which flair needed to stay at the store for next time (because... we'll be back...right? riiigghhhtttt) and which pieces Sprite the Fish Cagle could not live without and head to the register.
Dah-dee! Pup-pee! Dah-Dee!! Pup-pee peas? Dah-Dee! PUP-PEE!
In line we stand, LMC falls back on the large woman behind us who was buying cans of cat food on sale. They topple on the ground and LMC helps pick them all up. Not because the large woman couldn't bend down. Certainly not that.
ONE HUNDRED EIGHT DOLLARS AND SIXTY SEVEN CENTS LATER-- we walk out without a net.
Do you know you need a net to transfer a fish from his baggie to his new home full of flair? And you have to wash everything? I am starting to understand why Brother only got a bowl and a mirror for a friend for his fish as I start to dog-cuss my animal loving family.
Back at the house, Sprite the Fish Cagle is looking a little puny and not swimming so much. Oxygen must be running out. Philippe warned us to act quickly when we got home.
I wash everything, Bennie falls out of a chair, LMC spills her milk on Sprite the Fish Cagle's bag, and Husband looks at me like we all have gills.
Lacking the net and refusing to go back to Philippe and Pet Smart, Husband tries the pasta scooper to get Sprite the Fish Cagle out of his bag and into his new home. No dice. All that is left is an oversized strainer that I use for opening and draining cans. In this moment, it was perfect for our problem. Holding our breath, we dump his current water down the drain through the strainer and drop him in his new home.
She swims. Like moths to flames, we stop and stare at this fish that now resides on our counter in an aquarium with hot pink rocks, glow in the dark rocks, two purple plants, a unicorn, a treasure chest, rainbow, and a large girl-approved castle.
LMC cheers and starts putting stickers on the aquarium. We bought stickers for Sprite the Fish Cagle? What kind of spoiled fish is this?! Can we change her name to Supper?