Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ornamental Cruelty

I feel sorry for fish.
Not so much the wild kind, like in a lake or stream or ocean. Well, actually even those type haven’t got the greatest life either when you think about it, having to worry every single moment about some bigger fish eating you. Not even being able to erect a fence against intruders!
Not knowing what fishhooks are?
But I mean domestic fish.
The kind you keep in a tank.
I feel sorry for them, I really do. What kind of a life is this?

I am sitting at Starbucks and in walk these three giddy girls. Young, and well…. giddy.
They each plop down a bunch of plastic bags filled with water and fish. Just leave them there on the table and then they walk away to go and get their drinks.
There must be a pet store nearby.

So I’m looking at these frantic fish in these bags.
Not a one of them is just sitting there, or even casually swimming. No. The tails are frantic, these are fish in turmoil. Fish well aware of the precariousness of their situation, and perhaps even chagrined at the giddiness of their new owners.
A couple of the bags are even sideways, and all that is keeping the occupant from a grisly gill-flapping death on a Starbucks table is the strength of a hastily-tied knot.
What if one were to accidentally roll off the table and smash to the floor?
The knot would burst, there’d be no last rites, all would be over.
No one is worried about this, except the fish itself, and me, apparently.

The girls return.
They set their drinks down amid the bags and are comparing fish with each other. Picking them up one by one and peering in. Imagine what the fish sees.
These big huge bag-distorted monster eyeballs ogling them!
It’s got to be horrible.

And so even if they survive the bus-ride “home” with these kids, what awaits them there?
A tank of some sort.
And they will probably be added to an already disgruntled and rudely displaced grouping of other fish that instantly hate them!
Even so, there is [I think] a worse scenario.
Yes, I am speaking of the solitary confinement tank.
Just you and the tank. Often, no accoutrements. No fake underwater trees, mermaids, or treasure chests. Not even that thing with the bubbles! Just you and water and this invisible wall you keep bumping against.
That’s gotta be fish hell.

No, I’ll go you one worse.
Put that tank in a bathroom. And while you’re at it, shrink the tank to the size of a baseball!
Seriously now, I was at a friend’s place and I was in the bathroom.
So as I was… sitting there [← enough detail? Ahh, the difference an “h” would make…] I look over and what do I see?
One of these baseball size jars WITH A LIVE FISH IN IT!
The thing’s got about enough room to want to kill itself, and that’s it!

I was horrified!
I mean, I had just peed more environment than this poor fish was living in!
It’s not right I tell you!
It’s not right, this fad with the ornamental fish in a jar. It’s cruel!
It would have been merciful of me to take that thing and flush it away.
And by the way, that fish’s funeral is going to take place there anyway! In the toilet!
But in the meantime, we feel compelled to have it suffer its life away in an almost always darkened bathroom. It cannot be good for the fish.

The girls have now left the Starbucks, giddy as ever.
Swinging their bags of frantic treasure.
Innocently filled to the brim with all manner of unintentional torture!


1 comment:

Beth said...

A fish in the bathroom is just plain bizarre. (And I need my privacy.)
Equally crazy is having fish in bowls as centrepieces at swanky functions. I always hoped the staff working the functions took them home rather than dumping them down the...toilet? (That would be a hell of a lot of fish down the drain.)