Monday, April 12, 2010

The Birds, the Bees and the Fish

baby fish
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
My fish have spawned. Oooh, that sounds so much better, doesn't it, when you say it about fish than about humans? At any rate, the orange platys in my fish tank have produced an only child: a tiny replica of themselves. He - or she - is cute, or, well, since as mammals we are programmed to think babies are cute, even babies of other species (this doesn't stop us from eating them or doing other dire things, mind you, it's just that usually right before the first bite we say something like, oooh, so cute! And so delicious!) I'm calling it cute. Actually, it's not really all that cute in the way that puppies and kittens and many but not all human babies are cute. It just looks exactly like its parents, only smaller, but, let's face it, small is cute or Polly Pocket dolls wouldn't sell so damn well.

The pet shop lady told us that the fish would have babies but I didn't believe her, despite the way she went on about how this one fish was a girl and this other fish was not a girl. No doubt, she slyly intimated, these two fish would get together and do the horizontal bop, or, since they are fish, perhaps they have fishy positions of which we can only dream. Like fireflies, who not only glow but can fuck in mid air, thus making them officially probably the coolest living things on planet Earth, up to and including the naked mole rat. Anyhow, since I have never seen my fish getting down or even doing any of the necessary precursors to getting down, like drinking beer and giggling and admiring each other's taste in obscure late 80s punk vinyl, I figured that my fish were probably just asexual.

Besides, I have never had any animals other than dogs and cats - and of those only the ones who come unneutered from the hippies or the street, either/or - have babies. I tried to interest my parakeets in parenting but they were steadfastly uninspired. I've had dozens of tanks of fish over the years but never before have I had baby fish - I figured special equipment, like possibly small underwater stereos and mood lighting, was needed. But it turns out that no, fish do indeed create other fish! So clever! I am all excited. I want to knit him or her a tiny baby hat or possibly some booties - fish booties! - because, hey, that's what you do. Granted, if you're me it's sort of more like you think about knitting these things but don't actually get around to it until the kid is entering first grade or college or something but still, the kind thoughts are there.

Rock on with your breeder selves, fish! Congratulations! But all is not entirely well and full of fuzzy warm squooshy thoughts, here. We are all going to steadfastly not think about how unusual it seems that fish would produce an only child. Survival of the fittest and all that, not to mention a billion Jacques Cousteau films, would argue against fish children coming along one at a time. I am sure there is no cannibalism going on here - Anthony! Marc Antony! I've got my asps and I'm coming! - but there should probably be more than one. I'm damned if I'm looking that closely into the marbles at the bottom of the tank for tiny, lifeless, orange bodies or, worse, miniature orange zombies or, the nadir: minuscule vengeful fish ghosts. Vengeful fish ghosts are always a problem - they leave small splats of angry water around and whisper creepy fish stories where the shark is happily waiting just under the boat in your ears at night.

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