Our very good friends Duane and Kirsten Jasheway agreed to take care of Alison's fish while we were on our vacation in paradise over spring break. Duane was such a good fish fellow. He came by. He probably had conversations with Cody, the Betta who has refused to give up the ghost.
Cody came to us about three years ago and despite my over feeding him, chilly Indiana water and a few weeks when his tank didn't get as clean as it probably should have, he swam happily, albeit silently, around in his little circles. Ali had a book about a kid who trained his fish to jump through a hoop. She claimed to have tried that. The best we got out of Cody was he'd sometimes laze around on a plastic leaf Jeff got talked into buying. Like a fish needs a hammock...
Actually for the first years of Cody's life with us we called him Grace and thought he was a girl. I don't know how we discovered he was a boy and needed a name change, but one day Alison insisted that she was a he and thus deserved a male name.
So there was Duane keeping his vigil. And on the last day of our vacation in paradise, poor Duane went to visit Cody to find him belly up. This is a trick Grace/Cody had pulled on us a time or two. But he wasn't fooling around with Duane. Fancy hammock or no, he had checked out.
Duane was beside himself. He confessed via phone. Jeff got the news at the airport, less than an hour before we would have found the corpse on our own. He may have shed tears. He was really concerned about Alison's reaction. She did cry, and she was truly sad for a little while.
I removed the fatality from her room but didn't know if I should give Cody a solitary, swirling good bye without her. For all I knew, she'd insist on a burial and a color guard. So I did what any good mother would do: I put him in a Ziplock and stashed him in the freezer.
Informed of his whereabouts, his owner was outraged. Initially I thought she was annoyed on Cody's behalf. He was a tropical fish, after all. The deep freeze was kind of not his scene.
Apparently I'd given my daughter more compassion credit than she deserved.
"Mom! That's totally gross. I don't want a dead fish in the freezer with my pizza rolls and tater tots!" she said.
"Well he's in there with a lot of other dead meat," I said, defensively.
"Nice, Mom. Reeeeeel nice," she said.
So Cody, still securely zipped, went into the trash, and that was that. For her birthday, we're thinking of getting her a small aquarium where she can have a couple fish. We were at The Reef checking things out and the nice lady there was pointing out her heartiest crop. Alison liked the most colorful, which, as you might expect, aren't the most hardy of the lot. The lady was delicate in her description.
Jeff interjected. "Honey, what she's saying is those fish are going to die quicker than these. Do you really want those?"
"Uh. Maybe not," she said, looking at the longer lasting ones. The good news is that we'll be able to get two fish to frolic together if we get a big enough tank and if we're careful about the type of fish.
Later, we were in the car and I was telling Ali that we might have dinner soon with Team Jasheway and I reminded her that Duane was still concerned about her. "Oh Mom. It's OK. I know he didn't mean it and Cody was an old fish. Besides, I might be getting new fish," she said.
She later put those thoughts into a little note for Duane just to be sure he knew he was still in her favor. And for that, I take full credit. Witness, if you will, the conversation she had with her father just after she'd expressed her forgiving nature.
"But Alison, you're missing a great opportunity. You could probably pretend you're still sad and get Mr. Jasheway to give you all kinds of stuff," he said.
"Dad!" she exclaimed. "For a lawyer, you're not being very honest. You're trying to get me to bribe him!"
I advised her that it was more akin to extortion. Jeff suggested blackmail, which led to a discussion of definition.
All Ali knew was that her father was up to no good. One of these days I'm going to define "lawyer" to her...