Y’all. As of today at 11:22am Central Standard Time, I officially became a petowner.
You see, I have a history of making impulsive decisions. I regularly delude myself into thinking I’m a proper adult — I pay my bills on time, get my car detailed, and occasionally cook things made out of real vegetables. Then, inevitably, I go and do something like buy $135 worth of Harry Potter Lego to remind myself that I am basically an overgrown 12 year-old playing dress-up. (An aside: That actually was one of the better decisions I’ve ever made. It’s a great conversation piece, and Jordie and I while away many evenings playing Harry Potter. In our interpretation, Harry joins Team Voldemort, kisses then kills Hermione, and — if I am voicing him — possesses a terrible Cockney accent.)
These urges are irrepressible. So when I woke up yesterday morning with the idea in my head that it could be fun to own a fish, I knew I was doomed. I contacted Jordie — generally the voice of fiscal reason in my life — to see how he felt about the idea. For a man who hates animals, he was surprisingly amenable:
Encouraged, I spent all of Friday afternoon researching good pet fish for beginners (Betta fish are best!), sending frenzied messages to anyone I thought might have relevant fish experience, and brainstorming potential names (Catherine Betta-Jones was obviously my preferred name for a ladyfish). I obsessed all day and night about getting a fish. You could say I was hooked.
Finally, this morning, the big moment came. Jordie and I got to PetSmart at about 10:45am. Unfortunately, that time coincided with the beginning of the puppy and kitten adoption session. A saleswoman thrust a small kitten into my arms, almost turning the story of “The Time I Got A Fish” to “The Time I Went To Buy A Fish And Instead Adopted 3 Kittens.”
Somehow we extracted ourselves from the large animal section without buying a new furry friend and located the fish area. I picked out my Betta fish from the selection — a beautiful guy swimming about idly in his container who reeled me in with his attractive red scales. I left Big Red on the shelf while Jordie and I selected decorations for my tank. Y’all, there are some excellent tank decorations out there. I almost spent $7.99 on a fake, mossy Eiffel Tower — “We can teach him French!” — but it was too big. Tant pis! I eventually settled on the
cheap minimalist option of some gravel and a miniature fake plant. When I returned to the Betta fish shelf, however, I noticed a fish that I liked even better than Big Red.
I was inherently and immediately drawn to More Exciting Fish. While, sure, Big Red was pretty and I liked him just fine right off the bat, More Exciting Fish swam around with intention and occasionally experienced what seem to be mild seizures. I was in love. Because of my crushing guilt complex, however, Jordie had to spend an unreasonable amount of time gently convincing me that Big Red’s feelings wouldn’t be hurt if I didn’t buy him. The conversation, all of which we later learned was overheard by the fish attendant, went something like this:
Lee: I love More Exciting Fish more than I love Big Red, but I told Big Red I was going to adopt him, so I feel like I have to take him.
Jordie: I think, with a big decision like this, you really need to go with what your heart desires. Big Red is going to be okay; I’m sure someone else will buy him soon. He’s beautiful.
Lee: What if he stops swimming because I spurned him? What if this is all a huge mistake? Is More Exciting Fish going to die from his seizure disorder, and then when I replace him with Big Red, is BR going to be a mean pet?
Jordie: I think you know what you really want and you just have to commit.
This continued for, no joke, 3 minutes before I finally took More Exciting Fish to the register. And, Dear Readers, what a mistake that WASN’T! I love MEF! He’s adjusted very well to life in my apartment. He swims constantly, although I worry about his appetite. It took him 45 minutes to eat all 4 pellets of his lunch. I performed First Day of My Life for him on the ukulele to let him know how happy I was that he’s my pet now, and he demonstrated his appreciation with one of his trademark seizures.
MEF remains, at this point, nameless. I’m temporarily calling him 610 after the interstate that defines Inner Houston. I simply haven’t yet been inspired by a name adequate enough to encompass his wonderful personality, but I probably will be soon. I’m sure he doesn’t mind waiting. Betta late than never, after all.