By Judy Penz Sheluk
I’m not sure about other professions, but most writers I know have very long memories. It’s those memories that help us fabricate stories based on past experiences, places we’ve been, and people we’ve met along the way. So when I was thinking of what to write for this blog, I went back to my childhood.
I was about six and had been pestering my parents for a pet for about as long as I could talk. At long last, my parents took me to Woolworth’s, where they bought me a green budgie. I named the budgie Hansie (I have no idea where that came from) but sadly, after one night and a body full of hives, it was quickly apparent that I was allergic to feathers. Or at least to budgies. Despite my tears and desperate pleas to keep him, Hansie was duly returned and exchanged for two goldfish.
Now, truthfully, even at six, I didn’t see a goldfish as a proper pet, but I figured if I could prove myself with fish, a puppy might be in the foreseeable future. I called my goldfish Goldie (hey, I was six) and Pixie. Everything was going along swimmingly until one day after school I noticed something odd. Pixie had gone from gold to red-gold. How was that even possible?
My first resource was my Encyclopedia Britannica (does anyone remember those?). Nowhere under Goldfish did it say they could change color. Which meant someone had replaced Pixie with an imposter. The most likely suspect was my mother, who would have been home while I was at school. But why? Surely no one would kidnap a goldfish. Would they?
I ran the idea of a goldfish kidnapping by my mother, who shamefacedly admitted that she’d found Pixie floating on top of the water that morning, and wanted to spare me the heartbreak of losing another pet. I forgave her, even after she told me Pixie had been unceremoniously flushed down the toilet. I did, however, insist on making a small grave marker out of popsicle sticks in the side garden. Pixie may have gone to that big aquarium in the sky, but at least she would be remembered.
I named the new goldfish Red, and to the best of my recollection, Red and Goldie lived a couple of years, though it could just as easily have been a couple of months. It’s hard to bond with a goldfish, you know? Especially after my mother tried to trick me about Pixie.