Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A watery grave decision

So, I'm on the phone with Shay earlier, wandering around the apartment as I'm talking when I notice that one of my 10+ fish has died (I have four tanks in the living room: two 10-gallon tanks and two 20-gallon). It is one of my fantailed goldfish who--until today--had managed to live 3 years despite being bloated beyond reason and constantly swimming upside-down.

"Shit," I mutter as I scoop him up into the net, "should I flush him? He's pretty big." Shay offers her backyard for a proper memorial service but I worry that he'll be rotted by the time I schlep out to her house in LI again.

"Damn, Jenn, that's the problem with your fish living so long," Shay observes. "They grow too big to flush."

Agreed. Against every gut instinct in me, I flush the bloated goldfish (about the size of my fist) down the toilet.

I quickly realize that I've made a terrible mistake as the toilet water begins to rise up to its seat. Flush after flush does nothing to help the situation; clearly, he's stuck somewhere in the labyrinth of porcelain pipes I neglected to consider.

Not sure why I always have to illustrate the blog but this was too interesting to pass up: a $299 "Fish and Flush" toilet (www.fishnflush.com/order.asp).

Several hours later, I'm on the phone with J-Sok, recapping the failed toilet funeral and wondering how I'm going to sell the "I don't know what's wrong with it" story to my super tomorrow. J-Sok jumps on yet another opportunity to berate my skills as a pet owner.

"Wow. One of your fish died. What a surprise. Do you buy pets with the sole purpose of killing them?"

"No, this fish lived nearly 3 years, J. He had a good life despite suffering from fish gout."

"Why the hell did you flush him anyway? Why are fish the only pets that we flush? You wouldn't flush a hamster or cat. Why flush a fish? Don't they deserve to be buried, too?"

"I don't know, J. Maybe it's 'cause they're used to being in water so the toilet makes sense somehow."

Back to the bathroom to try another round of plunging but to no avail. Next, I try snaking an unraveled coat hanger into the winding pipes to dislodge the fish. Several unsuccessful attempts underscore my desperate need for Liquid Plumber. I resolve to run out for a bottle in the morning. In the meantime, I'm trying to dissolve the scaly corpse (I poured a half a bottle of bleach in the toilet -- at the very least, it will be clean enough to drink out of).

Why so much effort? After all, I generously tip my super at Christmas -- why try to fix it on my own? Simple: I'm afraid he'll discover the fish tomorrow and don't care to cement my reputation with him for bizarre behavior (a string of crazy roommates including one anorexic alcoholic who was carried out by EMS twice in the month she lived here laid the foundation for 4G's legend).

Whether I'm eventually outed as a fish flusher or not, I've learned my lesson: fish deserve to be buried, too (especially when they're bigger than a gerbil).

Other Brooklyn Zoo news:
I have given up on keeping crickets as pets. After several batches, only one qualified as a "success" (with me being lulled to sleep by actual cricket sounds). Unfortunately, that batch died while I was out in the Grand Canyon. I returned to find their hollowed bodies huddled in a corner of the cozy terrarium I'd made for them. Yes, J-Sok, I'm a bad pet owner.

I'm now searching for a CD of cricket sounds. Suggestions?

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