A Farewell to a Good Fish
Last December, I went on a cruise. I brought back souvenirs for everyone, including Mishima. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that Mishima is the fish who lives on my kitchen counter. I can’t say “my” fish, because Mishima was certainly his own man—well, his own aquatic creature. He was a bit of a diva, and made some pretty outrageous claims about his combat skills, his romantic past, and had his own Twitter account, which he used occasionally to subtweet at me when his tank needed cleaning or he was mad at the cat. At any rate, I had picked up a really pretty seashell for his tank, and when I gave it to him, he looked pleased, but then his little face became concerned.
“What will happen to all my things when I die?” he asked.
“Kijiji,” I answered.
“No, seriously. I have some really beautiful things and I don’t want them going to some random stranger that you found on a Facebook Buy and Sell site. I want my nephew Oscar to have them. I need to make a will.”
Now, I was concerned. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I said. “There’s nothing wrong with you. You survived that fall from the counter—I think you’re pretty indestructible. Besides, you’re only 5—that’s like middle-aged for a goldfish. Also, that might explain why you keep bugging me for a sportscar and trying to pick up young mermaids.”
“The ladies love me,” he said. “Stop trying to deny it. Now get a piece of paper and a pen and take this down. ‘I, Mishima Fishima, being of sound mind and body—why are you snickering?!”
“The ‘sound mind’ bit. We’ll agree to disagree on that. Carry on.”
“—do hereby bequeath all my worldly possessions to my nephew, Oscar Wildefish.”
“We should maybe list them. Just so we know what ‘worldly possessions’ we’re talking about here,” I said.
“Well, all my land—“
“You mean the gravel on the bottom of your tank?”
“Call it what you like. Also, my house and surrounding property, and my jewels. That big diamond has GOT to be worth a pretty penny. Also, don’t forget my social media holdings.”
“OK. So the pagoda, the fake palm tree, the glass beads from the dollar store, and your Twitter account. Gotcha.” So we drew up the will, and I tucked it away.
“How will I find Oscar Wildefish though?” I asked.
Mishima pondered for a moment. “You’ll just know. He’s flamboyant, and blue, and extremely witty.”
Then, two weekends ago, we changed the water in his tank, and when I looked at him swimming around in the bowl we used to keep him safe during the whole process, looking so tiny and vulnerable, I had a terrible feeling that I’d never see him again.
But then the moment quickly passed when he looked up and yelled, “Why are you staring at me? You’re giving me the creeps. Come on, hurry up. This water is cold—the shrinkage might scare off the mermaids!”
I shoved the feeling of impending sorrow into the back of my mind, and went back to Toronto on the train. Then, on the Tuesday morning, Ken texted me: “Mishima is just lying on the bottom of the tank and he hasn’t eaten his breakfast. I think he might be sick.”
I spent the whole day worrying and googling “How do I know if my goldfish is dying?” Then, after work, Ken called. We chatted about work and other things, then suddenly he said, “Oh by the way—the fish is dead.”
And I refuse to apologize for sobbing hysterically, for calling my mother and crying into the phone, and for yelling at Ken that he could have told me in a more gentle way, all over a fish. I was so upset that K actually called me—she hates talking on the phone, so you KNOW it was serious sh*t. Yes, Mishima was “just” a goldfish, and yes, I’m a grown woman, but Mishima and I had an understanding, a bond if you will. Plus, he was on the kitchen island right where I prepare dinner for 5 years, and I got used to having him around. From his complaints about fishflakes to his Twitter polls to his claims about ‘Nam, he was nothing if not entertaining. So here, as a tribute to a fine fish and friend, are some of his best moments.
Mishima goes on a road trip
On Thursday night, Ken called me.
Ken: I have to tell you something, but don’t worry—everything is OK.
Me: What?! What happened?
Ken: Titus and I went for a walk, and when we got back, Titus didn’t care about a cookie, which is COMPLETELY unlike him—he just kept trying to run into the kitchen. So I followed him in and he went straight over to where the toaster oven is. Mishima was lying there on the floor.
Me: Oh my god! What happened?
Ken: He was still breathing, so I scooped him up and put him back in his tank. After a minute, he started to swim around. His one fin looks a little iffy, but he seems OK otherwise.
Me: How the hell did he get down there? That’s like at least 5 feet away from his tank.
Ken: I don’t know. I suspected the cat, but she was upstairs sleeping on a chair.
Me: I’ll find out tomorrow when I come home.
I finally had a chance to ask the damn fish what he’d been up to. I was a little surprised at my reaction the night before because frankly, he can be quite the diva, and after 4 years, I still can’t convince him to stop telling people that he was in ‘Nam. Plus, he has way more followers on Twitter than I do. Still, he has a certain charm, and he keeps me company when I’m cooking (because his tank is on the kitchen island so he really has no choice).
Me: So what the hell were you doing the other night? You scared me to death.
Mishima: What are you talking about?
Me: Your little “road trip”?
Mishima: Oh that. I was trying to punch the cat in the throat using a special maneuver that I learned in the Marines. I overextended my reach and ended up sliding across the counter onto the floor.
Me: Stop pretending you were in the American military. For the last time, you’re a 4 year-old Canadian fish. Why were you trying to punch the cat in the throat?! You could have died.
Mishima: Ask her, the furry little hellion. I’m not saying another word. Plus, I have a three second memory, so I’m not actually sure anymore.
I found Raven in her usual spot, curled up in a patch of sun on K’s bed.
Me: Explain yourself. What did you do to the fish?
Raven: I was thirsty. He got all pissy about me drinking out of his tank, and the next thing I know, he started yelling, “Hiyah! Hiyah!”, flew over my head and landed on the floor. What was I supposed to do? Dial 911? I was laughing too hard.
Me: He could have died. Stop drinking out of his tank.
Raven: Fine. The water tastes like sh*t anyway.
Me: There’s a reason for that. Do you see a separate bathroom in there? Where do you THINK he goes?
Raven: I’d be more grossed out, but I lick my own ass, so…
I love fish. Not so much to eat—if given a choice, I’d much rather have steak—but as far as living organisms go, I’ve got a tremendous fondness for the wee, finned ones. We have 2 ponds on our property, both stocked with goldfish, and until recently, we had a pond at our cottage, also inhabited by over a dozen swimmers of all colour variations. And then, of course, there’s Mishima, who lives in a tank on the kitchen island. He’s a narcissistic diva, but over the last 4 years, we’ve come to an understanding. He doesn’t trash me on his Twitter feed (@tweetsoffish), and I feed him. It’s a deal that benefits him more than me, to be honest, because while he can be rather cutting, he is still just a fish, and his opinion of me is just about as compelling as Donald Trump congratulating Scotland on Brexit. Scotland responded exactly the way I do with Mishima, which is to roll my eyes and call him a “mangled apricot hellbeast” But Mishima doesn’t realize just how lucky he is, considering my actual track record of keeping fish alive…
Well, if you looked up “weary traveller” in the dictionary, you would see my sunburned face and crazy hair, after the night I just spent trying to get home from the cruise I was on with my parents and my aunt, thanks to Delta Airlines, who have to be one of the most incompetent and weird airlines I’ve ever flown on. After a comedy of errors involving plane delays, transfers, flights into cities across America trying to get back to Canada during a snowstorm, lost luggage, closed border bridges, and freezing rain, I finally made it back home to the loving arms of my family (most of them), only to be greeted with this:
Mishima: You’re back. What the f*ck was THAT?
Me: Sigh. You’re mad about last week’s blog. I TOLD Ken to include you. This is NOT my fault.
Mishima: I am the linchpin that keeps this motley platoon together, and no one wants to get MY perspective on anything?! This is as bad as the day I said we should “go over the top” but nobody listened, and we were stuck in a trench for 3 weeks.
Me: Um…that’s not ringing any bells.
Mishima: Lest we forget, baby—lest we forget.
Me: You’ve completely lost me, which is not surprising. Anyway, I’m sorry about the blog, but it wasn’t my fault. I brought you back this cool seashell for your tank though.
Mishima: Is there a tiny mermaid trapped within it, and when I rub the shell, she’ll grant me three wishes?
Me: No. It’s just a seashell.
Mishima: You disappoint me once again, woman. And I’ll bet you can guess what the first wish would have been.
Me: So many options…
So farewell, Mishima. I’ll miss you. But I promise—the quest for Oscar has begun.