A Fish Out To Pasture


So the fish has been sent to pasture. The fish that never had its own name is now swimming freely. That’s what reduces my dissonance.


One day early in the last school year, Beasley came home and announced that, “We’re getting fish!” The class had built an aquarium/terrarium environment in class that consisted of interconnected chambers of what looked like mud. It was a class project on biology or ecology or something. When the project neared its scripted end the teacher asked who wanted to take home fish and my darling Beasley decided she was up to the task of fish ownership. Along with probably a dozen other kids. There was a lottery.

We found a book on fish and did some research on “mosquito fish” and bought the proper food (algae tablets). We went and got a small aquarium, some gravel, a few fake plants, and a filtration system. The whole get-up put me back something like thirty bucks. No biggie for what I thought would be several little fishies.

We set up Beasley’s first aquarium. I explained about oxygenating the water and pH balance and such. We told the cat that he couldn’t mess with it. The child was stoked.

I sent in a note to Mrs. G certifying that our family was all raring to go with fish ownership and, after school that very day Beasley came home with one tiny mosquito fish in a Dixie cup. I asked, “just one?” and Beas informed me that bunch of kids wanted fish (and their parents certified apparently) so each kid got one tiny mosquito fish. I’ve seen clipped toenails bigger. This was a tiny little creature.

Every few days Beasley would tell me that another of the mosquito fish cohort was dead. The last of the cadre died about two weeks after we all adopted. I felt it was My Parental Duty to prepare the kiddo for what was surely going to be a quick fish death. That was October.

Over the months Beasley, understandably, grew less and less interested in the fish–never named. With school, spelling bee, Girl scouts, lacrosse, soccer, softball, climbing, summer camps, trips, and all the shit a kid in this socioeconomic class does, the fish became background. I ended up as chief feeder and head tank cleaner.

The fish with no name that never grew past a half-inch was now my fish with no name that never grew past a half-inch.


Today, nine months after we welcomed fish–never named–into our home, we all decided that the fish wasn’t looking healthy. Tonight we leave on a trip. Instead coming home to a death or saddling our house sitter with flushing fish–never named–I had the bright idea to take the fish out to the lake for a proper goodbye. Maybe the fish will experience a moment of freedom, maybe the never-named will get eaten by a turtle. Maybe it will die instantly.

I told Beasley my well-considered plan; a plan that didn’t involve flushing. A plan that provided opportunity. I talked for a solid three minutes. I described my fatherly duty and felt that my reasoning and solutioning were solid.

Beasley told me, “OK. I don’t care.” Then she look at me and said, “I mean, I don’t mind. I understand. You can do it while I’m at art class.”


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