Thursday, July 12, 2007
A Dusty White Ceramic Castle
For the few years when I lived with other living things, I had two fish named Jean Paul and Simone. They were clownfish, the only kind my then-husband and I could afford. We longed for the beautiful expensive salt water dudes, but alas, we had a budget -- no more than five dollars on any fish and an old crappy tank that we'd pulled out of the dumpster behind our apartment, not the salt water paradise that one might have desired. Given these constraints, the clownfish were it unless we wanted to get some feeder fish, the kind that you give to bigger fish for a little snack. That was even a little depressing for me, so I gained an affection for the little guys with their festive black stripes. And what better names for happy fish than Jean Paul and Simone? I do love a good existential misery contained in a tank!
The thing we wanted most for our tank was a castle so the fishies could swim through it, like a magical kingdom. But none of the fish stores carried them. Complaining about this lack of castles one day at my parents' house, my dad went out to the garage and brought out a dusty white ceramic castle, just like I'd been imagining. We set it up in the tank and Jean Paul took to living there for long periods of time, so much so that we sometimes thought he'd died. It was better than his other activity -- attacking Simone over and over again, until she looked shredded. I couldn't believe it: they were supposed to be friends! Jean Paul was a big meanie pants. He couldn't be trusted. Simone died; she bled to death from his repeated abuse. I should have remembered that the real Jean Paul and Simone never lived together for good reasons, probably also involving blood. Jean Paul swam around after Simone's death, stayed in the top turret of his castle. The little bastard did not appear to be in mourning, not at all. Then he leapt out of the opening of the tank (the lid didn't fit anymore -- things in the garbage rarely live up the grace and perfection of our original conception!) and died. I got home one afternoon and saw his lifeless body on the couch. Maybe he really was sorry for what he did. Or bored. The castle, while beautiful, was kind of a one trick pony.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"To catch a husband is an art; to hold him is a job." Simone de Beauvoir
Drinking short story collection: Family Dancing David Leavitt
Benedictions and Maledictions