I am currently curled up on my couch with a glass of sweet red wine, type-type-typing away on my novel. I need to complete a minimum of 5,000 words today and tomorrow each to get finished on time. I just crossed the 43K mark, so I still have a lot of work to do. But as much as I hate my novel right now, I cannot imagine getting to midnight on Thursday morning and realizing I failed NaNoWriMo with less than seven thousand words to go. That would be ridiculous.
to the same time on Thursday and realizing I failed NaBloPoMo by only
two days would also be excruciating. So, I'm taking a break from typing that to type this.
You're welcome? Probably not... Anyway, I thought I would tell you the
sad sad story of Lola Betty, the Betta Fish and her true love Marty
Allen, the Bluest Betta.
Lola Betty was my beautiful magenta betta fish... Wait, I should back up.
was the summer between Junior and Senior year of college. Roommate and I
had just moved into our new apartment, finally escaping Liar and the
financial havoc she had inflicted. What with the move and finals and
jobs and LIFE, we had kind of skipped over Roommate's birthday. I mean,
we went to dinner and celebrated, but I hadn't had time to get her a
super cool awesome present. Okay, who are we kidding? I am an awful gift
giver. They are rarely super, cool, or awesome and are most commonly
Anyway, after ages of struggling to figure out what to get her, I
just asked. I said, "Roommate, tell me what you want and I will take
you out and buy it for you and hand it to you outside the store. And you
can just pretend I was thoughtful and also that I wrapped it." Because I am an awesome gift giver.
It was around this time that we had been (half-)joking about
getting a puppy--Roommate is not big on cats. But we knew our apartment
wasn't really set up for either kind of pet. Plus we had no money and
not a lot of time. And? Roommate had never had a pet (I know, right?!),
so she was leery of starting with something so complicated. So I would
say, "Let's get a kitten!" and Roommate would say, "No cats. How about a
puppy?" And then I would say, "We have no money and no time!" and she
would say, "Maybe a fish?" So for her birthday, I offered to buy her a
She wanted a goldfish, but I had heard that they were actually
rather finicky and died easily and you had to clean their bowls a lot.
So when we got to the pet store, I steered her towards the bettas. I knew
they were pretty hardy, so she was less likely to kill her first pet,
which would be traumatizing and might ruin her for all pets in the
future (hint... hint...). We also toyed with the idea of getting a plant
first and seeing how it went, but I had great faith in her. So we
looked at all of the teensy-tiny cups of bettas.
And look, I know they say bettas need very little space, but I
think we go a little crazy with that concept. It's just mean! There were
quite a few dead in those tiny cups and others looked nearly there. We
wanted to rescue them all. But, like I said, we had very little money.
So I ended up picking one for myself. A beautiful magenta female, with
long flowy fins. Roommate kept wandering over to the goldfish and I kept
telling her, "I'll buy you whatever you want, but I'd rather buy you
something that won't die right away." Because I am an excellent gift
Finally, she settled on a dark blue male betta. We carefully
picked out glass bowls, rocks, plants, and decorations. I got
glow-in-the-dark plastic rocks and a plant that we later discovered (in a
very sleepy and strangely terrifying incident) also glowed in the dark.
Glew in the dark? No. Glowed in the dark.
When we had everything we wanted, we took our fish and I paid for
it all. And right before we got out of the store, we saw that there
were some visiting shelter puppies up for adoption. I almost returned
the fish--I'm just being honest. On the way home, we discussed names. We
couldn't pick just one favorite name and they ended up with middle
names. Which is a lot for such a little fish. She had Marty Allen and I
had Lola Betty.
Because bettas tend to fight, we set them up in separate bowls. But we had
this elaborate and ridiculous (and we knew it was ridiculous, but we
thought we were hilarious anyway) story about how they were husband and
wife, their love forever hindered by two pieces of glass and four inches
of counter space. Sometimes, we thought they might even be
communicating, since they would gravitate toward each other, watching
through the barriers of their bowls. I'm not sure how often we leaned
down to the counter and made stupid fishy-kissy faces at them, but it
was a lot. They probably thought we were morons.
We took great care of those fish. We had a feeding
schedule and everything. We took turns feeding them. We had a whole
system for marking that one of us had fed them. It helped my flaky brain
and satisfied Roommate that she wasn't going to kill her first pet. Our
friends used to mock us, saying we were like a married couple with
kids. "Did you feed Jimmy breakfast?" "Who's picking Sally up from
school?" We didn't care. We loved those fish. And we both agreed it was
nice to come home to something living at the end of a long day of work,
school, and junk.
We had them for almost six months. Then Christmas rolled around.
We were both leaving town for two weeks to see our families. It was the
first time we were going to be away from the fish for more than two
days. We went out and bought vacation feeders for them and Roommate
arranged to have a local friend check on them halfway through the break.
We finished finals, packed last minute (like always), and headed out of
town. In the flurry, we forgot to give the friend a key. "Oh well!" we
thought. "They have fresh water and vacation feeders. They're bettas.
They'll be fine!"
There were two things we did not take into account. First of all,
we had turned down the thermostat to save money while we were gone.
Second, a huge storm hit our normally temperate city. The entire city
was shut down for over a week due to snow and ice. Roommate's friend
couldn't have gotten there to check on them anyway. In the end, all of
the details conspired against us. When Roommate got home, she found
their bowls covered in a thin layer of ice.
Lola and Marty were no more.
I felt incredibly bad for Roommate, who did everything she was
supposed to do as a first time pet owner. We were so worried about
forgetting to feed them or not cleaning their bowls often enough. I
don't think either of us expected them to freeze to death. And I feel
even worse, because when she called me to tell me, I think I made her
think it was her fault. I was pretty much only mad at myself. Sorry,
Roommate. You were an excellent fish parent. Don't ever doubt that.
It's kind of depressing to think of them slowly dying in
the cold water. I imagine Lola shivering and Marty reassuring her that
we would come home soon and rescue them. And even though it might be
cruel to laugh at the expense of the pet I killed, I have a strange
brain. All I can imagine of their last days is an epic, Titanic-style
death scene. Freezing
slowly, calling out their love for one another. Saying sappy things
like, "I'll never let go!" I imagine few of those musical fish from that
song on The Little Mermaid probably played a tiny string quartet as the
water got colder. Lola wishing she was a salmon and built for this kind
of water, Marty wishing he had a tiny fishy door to put Lola on...
Wait, I think I took the metaphor a little too far. I
think NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo have broken me.Anyway, that is the Tragic
and Totally True Tale of Lola Betty and Marty Allen, the Well-Loved and
Very Loving Frozen Fish. The end.