Wednesday, August 4, 2010
The Tragic Death of Le Petit Poisson
My daughter called yesterday in tears. Her beloved goldfish (Le Petit Poisson) had died unexpectedly in his fishbowl at the tender age of not very old.
She had been afraid to name him (or her, as the case may be) because she had lost so many goldfish in the past.
Le Petit Poisson, however, was not just an ordinary goldfish. He was a gift from a good friend for Persian New Years and he had qualities not normally attributed to goldfish.
When anyone approached his bowl, he came up to the top of the water and tried his best to communicate. He actually jumped up out of the water to say hello! My daughter and her husband hired “fish sitters” for Le Petit Poisson when they traveled. He was a happy and loving fish; everyone said so! Le Petit Poisson even knew how to smile and I'm sure you will agree, that is rare in a goldfish! I fully understood my daughter's unhappiness over losing him.
Ten years ago, my husband and I had a marvelous sixty-gallon tank of freshwater fish. There were about thirty inhabitants of the aquarium. Two fish stood out: Snow and Jake. We got Snow from Lucky Goldfish in Oakland and she was a gorgeous large white molly. Jake was obtained some time later from Petco in Alameda.
Snow, from the time we brought her home, was a very depressed girl fish. She hung around at the bottom of the tank and looked near death for the first two weeks we had her. She put on weight even though she seemed to stop eating, and was letting herself go. There was nothing we could do to help her. Jasmine (one of our other female fish) used to go by and bite Snow every chance she got. The largest male fish (Lester) in the tank who impregnated at least half of the females, completely ignored Snow. Millie and Annette seemed to be smirking at Snow most of the time. Delilah used to nip at Snow every time she passed her. In other words, she was not the most popular girl in the school. (By the way, each and every one of those fish had a name.)
When we brought home Jake (a very small black molly male fish), everything changed. Jake, was a natural leader. He quickly became leader of the tank. Nobody messed with Jake. He was small, wiry, and probably quite intelligent for a fish. Jake had charisma. Simple as that.
He made it his mission in life to pursue and win the affections of the shy and reclusive Snow. She lost a little weight, got off of the bottom of the tank and started getting some exercise. Snow also began to fix herself up a bit an behaved like a much perkier fish than she had been before. The spunky little Jake became her constant companion and she was no longer a girl on life support!
I had a difficult time leaving for work in the morning because I wanted to see what was going to happen next.
When my husband and I decided it was time to clean the aquarium, neither Jake nor Snow lived through the experience. At least they died together. We were heartbroken. Alex asked me in a hushed tone if he should flush them down the toilet. Men can be absurd. I found a little wooden box and placed them side by side on some seaweed and we buried them in the garden. I used sticks to make a little cross as a marker for their grave. I really have no idea if they were Christian fish or not, but it was the best I could do.
About two years later, when a severe sickness swept the aquarium, we lost them all. I can’t imagine ever going though such a terrible period again.
In any case, Le Petit Poisson gave so much pleasure to so many people. I’m so sorry he (or she) is gone.