Campus Life, Lifestyle

Fish tales

In elementary school, my brother came into my room one morning carrying a red SOLO cup. I thought it was so nice he was bringing me some orange juice before I even woke up. Breakfast in bed!

He plopped the cup on my bedside table and said “your fish is dead.”

One must do a complete emotional 180 when they think somebody is generously bringing them a cup of juice or a delicious smoothie, and it actually turns out to be the plastic coffin containing their beloved pet fish carcass.

Generally speaking, I have not had the best luck with pet fish.

I wasn’t jumping to get another goldfish after the first scarring fish incident. But by my sophomore year of high school, the world had other plans for me.

goldfish in a fish tank
Even if you do not have the best luck with having fish as pets, adopting a goldfish can generate good memories. COURTESY OF ANDREW PESCOD VIA PIXABAY

The captain of my swim team decided to give everyone a live goldfish at the end of the season — much to the reluctance of … absolutely everyone. I named the little orange guy Jean-Ralphio, after my favorite character from “Parks and Recreation.”

For a while, Jean-Ralphio was living the life. A friend and I threw him a party on his first birthday, complete with balloons and a fish-shaped cake we made. We loved him.

But I must admit I was not the best fish mom in the world. While I did my best to keep the pH and the temperature in check, when his bowl got too dirty, he developed a disease and was covered in splotches. Poor little guy! I was terrified this would be another morbid red SOLO situation, but he survived. Over and over again.

Jean-Ralphio was invincible. He lived way longer than my first fish and had survived long, bumpy car rides, disease-ridden fish bowls and frequent neglect from his bad caretaker (me). We made jokes about how he was probably immortal.

One day, however, I came home from school and Jean-Ralphio was gone. I wish I could say I erupted into an immediate, full-fledged panic, but I think it was more likely a few hours — perhaps days — before I even noticed. (Again, not the best fish parent … Jean-Ralphio was an invincible superhero who often had to fend for himself.)

When I finally noticed Jean-Ralphio’s absence, I found out my mother had given my fish to Petco. Yes. She drove to Petco, told them we didn’t have a place for the fish and asked them to take it “back.”

So Jean-Ralphio lives at Petco now. Or somewhere else. And it’s definitely for the best.

But I know he’s out there, swimming, swimming, swimming. Maybe it’s at Petco, or maybe with some kid who is just now noticing his invincibility. But I know he will never end up in a red SOLO cup. I just know. Just keep swimming, Jean-Ralphio.

Just keep swimming.

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