Crap. Dead fish.
This was my first thought when I woke up Sunday morning and stumbled over to my coffee table to feed Iggy. To be honest this was not exactly the most fabulous thing I wanted to see on a Sunday morning when I was slightly hungover from being plied with many margaritas and glasses of champagne the night before by a wild bunch of martial artist yogis. Yeah, you read that correctly.
So I just sort of stared at the bowl, peered at it really, to make sure Iggy was really dead and not just sleeping with his head between rocks again. I was only certain when I twisted the bowl – which usually freed him from his head-in-rock position, irritated at being dislodged by a giantess frantic and confused that her fish was in danger rather than just a moron, swimming madly in circles – and all that happened was his little blue body flipped on its back and floated back down to settle on the clear stones in the bottom of his bowl.
I knew this day would come when I bought him, because circle of life, nothing lives forever, etc. I even had a hunch that he was dying. He’d seemed lethargic since I’d gotten back from Chicago, not swimming excitedly to the top of the bowl when he saw me blearily approaching in the morning, flicking pellets into his bowl. His bowl got too cloudy too quickly, seeming to be filled with fog instead of water, an egg-smelling fog at that, and there was a murky white film that trailed off his fins. On Saturday I was so concerned that I went to Pet Smart to see if one of their staff could help me. I was told my fish probably had ick.
“He…the what?” I asked the teenaged girl helping me.
“It’s a bacterial fungus,” she replied.
“Gross,” I said. A pause. “For serious? It’s called ‘ick’?”
“Huh.” I pondered briefly why there wasn’t a human condition called ick. I could think of a few maladies that could certainly fall under that category. Plus, how great would it be to call in to work in a hazy, fuzzy-headed state only to tell your boss, “Sorry, I can’t come in. I have the ick.” I don’t think anyone would ask questions, either, because would you really want to ask your employee to explain that? It could be any number of things and AWK-WARRRRD!
About 15 minutes and $15 later I left the store with ick medicine, some water conditioner and another bottle of something that supposedly helped to keep the water clear since I’d been complaining that his bowl just never stays cleeeeaaaaannnn! Except it was all moot, because little did I know that my little Iggs was too far gone, apparently. He would be gone in less than 24 hours. Though the bowl did look a little cleaner in the early rays of day.
I was surprisingly bummed Sunday morning. And a little queasy at the thought of flushing my finned friend, so I let him rest in peace in his bowl for awhile until I’d had time to get some breakfast in my stomach and read the Style section of the Washington Post. This little guy had been around for a year and a half – practically an eternity in fish life – and the suddenness of him not being there made the corners of my mouth turn down ever so slightly. If you think I didn’t talk to him, you are wrong. If you think I didn’t put the point of pens up to the side of the bowl and move it around to watch him frantically follow it thinking he was expertly warding off another attacking ballpoint fish, you are wrong. If you think I didn’t ask him, “What do you think, Iggs?” every once in awhile about some innocuous, blathering television program, you are wrong. So flushing him meant flushing all that away, and would mean that now when I talked to myself I couldn’t couch it in a huffy, “I’m talking to my fish.”
But I did flush him, because to leave him in his bowl, dead as an aquatic doornail would be not only gross, but also creepy. Hi, he was a $3 fish. Dude. For serious. And his bowl smells. Clean that shit up.
There was no fanfare in the flush, unlike when I lived on Belle Plaine and my roommate’s fish died. Sr. Betty, I think it was, and we held a wake on our back deck, me, my roommate Gina, and my friend Denise, drinking Coronas until we decided that we should actually, you know, flush the poor thing. Our bathroom was very tiny, so Denise and I stood in the shower, and each of us said a few words about Sr. Betty, then Denise and I sang On Eagle’s Wings (because that is what a good Catholic does at a funeral) into Corona bottles, and then Gina pushed the lever and we watched the fish go down the drain.
With Iggy there was none of that. Just a quiet sigh from This Girl, with a small wave as the water swirled him away.
RIP Iglesias “Iggy” Strzelecki. You will be missed, my little pal.