Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Impulse Buying Your Friends

Fang 2
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
The think I love about Mall Wart as opposed to Ingles is that at the Mart of Ultimate Evil, just as you're walking around dazed by the fluorescent lights, unable to find anything, exhausted from your shopping experience and benumbed by the ear splitting shrieks and wails of the young as they are consigned to consumerist hell, you can find solace in the random, unplanned and totally impulsive purchase of a nice finny friend. Yes, you can find love at the Wal Mart - cold blooded ichthyous love, but love no less real for all that! You're never going to find love at Ingles; the best you can do is buy a jar of pickled eggs and assign them each nicknames. You could give them little eyes with cloves and stuff - wait. I digress. Meet Fang 2, the newest member of our little family (gods, I hope he's still alive when I get home tonight, because if he isn't this will be so embarrassing) who is so much better and more interesting and beloved than any old pickled egg with clove eyes! Take that, Ingles!

Fang 2 is a betta, or Siamese Fighting Fish, which is to say, as I learned after extensive google action last night, a tiny territorial tropical fish whose native habitat is the rice paddies of, uh, Siam, I think. Somewhere like that, anyway. I thought bettas were hardy fish: you always see them at pet stores in horrible little bowls that don't even give them room to swim, or under the roots of plants. Turns out that they actually need warm water and space to roam - the one gallon bowl I purchased along with Fang 2 is not going to cut it. Neither, apparently, is our interior weather, since bettas like water around 75 - 85 degrees. This is why our one and only space heater is currently on the dining room table, set up right next to his bowl. Young M and I have been hovering anxiously around, stirring the water with our fingers and reassuring ourselves that it's toasty, as well as pointing out to each other in the manner of doting parents how much he likes to hang out on the heater side of the bowl and how, obviously, that proves that he is not only warm but smart. We love our Fang 2.

Fang 2, as the more astute among you will have guessed, is not the first betta named Fang whose company I have shared. He might not be the second, either; I have some kind of vague memories of a previous Fang 2 and possibly even a Fang 3 and Fang 4, but the most excellent Fang was the original fish who lived with A and me when we first moved to Baltimore. He was also an impulse buy and since in those distant days I was an irresponsible art student and the internet hadn't been invented yet, he was apparently horrifically neglected most of the time. Well, I mean, I fed him now and then and changed his water now and then but he sure as hell didn't have a space heater or much in the way of bowl interior decor. Fang lived to the breathtaking age of, I think, three or four years - a long damn time for a fish and a long damn time, at that point in my life, to be hauling around a bowl full of water from house to apartment to house to apartment. But I did and he kept up with us, if somewhat silently and sullenly. Bettas are a bit sulky and it's awfully difficult to teach them to fetch, but they're charming in their own piscine way.

The later, vaguely remembered Fangs were not as lucky in the longevity sweepstakes, apparently. But since that was long ago and far away, we've forgotten them anyway and all our finny love is focused now on the one, the only Fang 2! Soon I will return to Wal Mart or maybe Pet Smart and get him a bunch of nifty accessories, like a tiny bejeweled collar and a fuzzy red sweater. Or, okay, maybe a larger tank with a heater and a plant for him to hide behind. And some brine shrimp, since young M is anxious about how little he's eating and thinking that perhaps he needs something specially delicious to tempt his appetite. All hail Fang 2!

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