“Mom! Baba said we could get a fish tank and get all kinds of cool fish to go in it and decorate it to lookjust like Bikini Bottom. He even said I could get Sponge Bob’s house so the fish had a place to live.” squealed an elated Midget as he burst in the door back from a shopping trip with his father.
“Oh did he?”
“And he said that if I take care of the fish, we can get a bulldog.”
“I thought you wanted a baby?”
“I changed my mind. I’d rather a dog.”
“Sorry buddy, but you’re getting a baby and trust me, there’s no changing your mind on that one.”
“That’s ok. We can get a baby, a dog and the fish.”
“And who will take care of all these?”
“Sure. But when I forget you can take care of them. It will be fine”
“Exactly.” The kid lived in Turkey for 2 years and somehow in that short time he managed to master the way of the Turkish man – all he’s missing is the giant mustache.
I didn’t sign on to Baba’s big plan at the onset. It took me a few weeks to come around. Don’t misunderstand; I’m a big fan of fish, probably because I’m a Pisces. But aside from all that hippy-dippy crystal-hugging madness, I’ve always been rather fond of communing with my tropical, finned brethren be it by snorkeling or just watching them flit about a fab tank. Heartless as I may sound, I also have a fondness for a nice sea bass on the grill – though living in a country like Turkey where they are hell bent on serving the entire fish, head and all did prove to be a challenge. The thing is, I love the little guys and it’s that love that has long kept me from allowing a fish tank into my home. Because in the end, they have to die and it’s that moment of fishacide that I’m just not capable of handling.
Yes, I realize that it's odd for someone who spent her formative years with a mortician for a step-father to be so traumatized by the thought of finding Nemo belly-up, but I'm sensitive like that. Yet somehow, being knocked up clouded my judgment and in a moment of weakness, I relented and allowed a fish tank decorated to look like SpongeBob’s ‘hood to enter my home much to the glee of the two Turks who wanted it.
On day one, the Turks took part in Habitat for Fishmanity from one end of the house to the other. The Turk and the Midget carefully selected every plant and decoration from the tiny Patrick Star in one corner, down to the giant Incredible Hulk statue in the other. Once the new home was decorated to their liking, the boys and I headed out to choose our new family members with the knowledgeable assistance of a troll-like fish lovin’ gal at Petco. By the end of a long Saturday, Darth, JarJar and Luke Skywalker Fish were happily swimming through the crotch of the Hulk and over Patrick’s head as the Midget giggled in delight. Finally, we had our first pet.
Things went well for the first week. The neon hued trio adjusted quickly to their new home and the Midget only neglected to feed his brood a couple times. However, by week two, problems began to arise with Luke Skywalker. He was downtrodden and seemed to only want to spend time hiding in the dark depths of the Hulk’s crotch. I diagnosed him as chronically depressed but though I Googled for hours, I found nopharmaceutical currently on the market approved for use on minuscule marine life.
By week two I had no choice but to admit I was dealing with a suicidal fish and hence began a deathwatch. Unfortunately, I was not the party to witness the aftermath. The Midget found the crime scene first. Following a solemn and tear-filled burial in the porcelain receptacle in our bathroom, I made the stupid parenting mistake of promising to fill our tank with even more love in the wake of the tragedy.
The boys selected the next family members themselves and upon arriving home after an evening class, I was introduced to a school of 5 new fish with day-glo stripes down their sides. As the Midget beamed with pride over his now bustling Bikini Bottom, I offered the Turk that look. You know, the look every woman offers when her husband does something particularly stupid but she doesn’t want their offspring to know just how stupid. In Turkish, the language of anger and hostility in our home, I asked- “5 freaking fish? What the hell is wrong with you? I had 2 hours of tears when Luke Skywalker died and now you replace him with 5 freaking fish?”
“He liked them.”
“Well I’d like a hot gardener named Rico to take care of my lawn but just because I like Rico doesn’t mean we get him.”
“But the troll lady at Petco said they must be colony. They live only as colony so you can’t have just one.”
Here’s a good fact to know dear reader… if they live as a colony, they die as a colony.
We had a good week before the Storm Troopers started dropping off like victims of a fishy plague.
“I think Darth Vader ate him.” I told the Turk.
“Honey they are same size. He cannot eat him.”
“Oh really? Then where is he?”
“He jump out and kill himself because he is lonely.” This was yet another of those Turk proclamations I’ve become so accustomed to over the years where I hope he is joking but he is not.
“Are you insane?”
“It can happen. When I was kid, my fish did that all the time.”
“That’s because even the fish didn’t want to live in a hot old high-rise in Turkey.”
But being the (occasionally) supportive wife I am, we proceeded to move bookcases and search for our jumper. No body was recovered and I still stick to my Darth Vader theory. His sly fishy grin gives him away.
After the week of tears shed over each lost Storm Trooper and a week of toilet bowl funerals, I did what only a good matriarch would do and issued a proclamation. “No more damn fish in this house. We have two happy fish swimming around let’s just be happy with them and No More!” And as those Turks is my home are wont to do, they totally ignored me and last weekend showed up once again with a bag full of fish.
“Look Mom! Baba got me more fish!”
“6? You got him 6 more fish?”
“No, I only pay for 4. The guy caught too many so he gave the others free.”
“Regardless of the money spent, we now have 6 more fish to eventually mourn when they go to the big coral reef in the sky.”
“None will die this time. I grew up on the sea. I know how to pick good fish and this time. These are good fish.”
Fast forward to Sunday- the Midget and I again searching aimlessly for a missing fish. Two hours later we once again strung up the crime tape and called in CSI to investigate the body of one dead Chewbacca Fish found beneath the filter.
The next day - Tarful was located belly-up.
Day 3 - A dead Han Solo was located in Bikini Bottom
And moments ago, I completed my 4th fish funeral of the week as we waved farewell to Mace Windu as he swirled round and round the bowl to heaven.
4 down, 2 to go.
I know how to pick good fish my ass.
But through it all there is still one fish going strong....Darth Vader. Considence? I think not.