When I talked about my fear of getting locked in bathroom stalls in “There’s Nothing To Fear,But Maybe This,” I felt a little validated. Maybe I’m not an over thinker. I actually learned that other people have that fear and wonder if others might share my other legitimate fears.
Such as pet fish.
We had a pet goldfish when I was roundabouts 9 or 10. It was orange-ish, going against the gold name given to it, with a black splotch on its tiny cheek that was shaped like Mickey Mouse. An MM fanatic, I named the fish Mickey and had grand plans for us. It liked swimming, I loved swimming, so we had a lot to talk about. It liked Mickey Mouse so much that it had that birthmark or tattoo in the shape of the mouse’s head. I loved Mickey so much that I collected a ridiculous amount of his products. Dolls, bedspreads, that vest I mentioned in this post along with countless other clothes, and a Mickey Mouse phone.
Mickey and I had a few good weeks. My mom probably fed him, but I stared at him a lot and imitated how he opened and closed his mouth.
Then the day came. It was time to clean his room. Another thing Mickey the Goldfish and I had in common was that we hated cleaning our own rooms. My mom recruited me to help, because this was a family fish, and I was supposed to learn some sort of responsibility besides keeping him company. She poured a bit of his water into some container somewhere. For the sake of the story, we’ll assume it was a classy vase, perhaps. Maybe a crystal bowl from Tiffany’s, a store we don’t have here. I’ll bet it even had “Mickey” etched into it, even though he was only to swim in there while we cleaned his belongings.
So, yes, my mom poured his water into the bowl, because you aren’t supposed to just toss your family fish into brand new water. They need to slowly adjust to the new environment. Stubborn bloke that he was, Mickey didn’t just fall into the personalized crystal Tiffany’s bowl. He wanted to be escorted to it by my mother. So she got his classy Fish Grabby Net so she could scoop him up and place him in his temporary play-place. With great concentration, my mom scooped him into his net and tried to give him a comfortable ride to his upscale temporary swimming hole.
Not that I can entirely blame him, because I’m not good with unexpected moves, but Mickey freaked out. In mid-air, he jumped out of the Fish Grabby Net and free fell for three feet before landing flat on the kitchen floor. He flopped around, helpless and confused, misunderstanding our intentions. I squealed, not understanding why he would just jump out like that. And in our kitchen! How couldn’t he know that we only had good things in store for him?? How could he just flop around in the room where I got my snacks?
With each flop, my legs felt weak and my stomach dropped. Maybe because my squeal also got louder and higher with each jump, my mom wasn’t picking him up fast enough for my liking.
“GET HIM!” I squeaked, “PUT HIM AWAY! MAKE IT STOP!” I pulled the neck of my shirt up to hide my eyes while my mom fumbled with the Fish Grabby Net and finally put Mickey in his luxurious temporary suite.
But I couldn’t get over this.
Mickey jumps? Could he just jump out of his bowl whenever he wanted?
What if say I were the only one awake, which was common on a summer morning once my mom left for work. And I groggily came to the kitchen to fill a bowl with cereal. Could I accidentally step on a flopping Mickey?? I could just feel the sensation when I thought of it.
Over the years, my worries grew and grew, until I imagined pet fish waiting until I was asleep, jumping out of the comfort of their homes, flopping their ways to my room, and… well, I’ve never figured out what they would do. Slime my face? Poke my nostrils? Stare at me until I woke up?
The possibilities are endless. I didn’t ask for another fish after Mickey was, um, sleeping with the fishes.