“Do you have anything you would like to say to Oscar?” my husband asks.
“He knows how I feel. To be respectful for the near dead, I am going to be quiet.”
This aquatic pet came into our family about three years ago. My husband bought him, and the two formed a brotherly bond in the pet store. Just two manly guys living in Brooklyn, Oscar thought on the ride home. Boy, was he surprised when he saw me sitting on the living room couch! When my spouse dropped him in his new home, his eyes bulged and he cocked his head at my significant other, who’s the bitch in the living room?
He made his intentions clear on our first night together. My son and husband go to bed before me. So, I get to hang in the living room, alone. Aaaah. Tap, tap, tap. What’s that noise? Is there someone at the front door? Nope. Oscar who is about the size of a bag of coffee is sucking up the pebbles on the bottom of the tank, rolling them in his mouth, and spitting them out against the glass. What kind of monster fish did my honey bring home? Is Oscar trying to break the glass so he can escape and murder me?
My enemy finds another way to menace me. I pee quite a lot during the night which means I have to pass the fish tank to get to the bathroom. Just as I am nearing Oscar’s home, I hear splash, and feel drops of water on my body. Oscar is diving to the bottom of the tank and propelling himself up with such force that water comes out of the tank making a puddle on the floor and sprinkling me in aquarium water. Is he trying to drown me in his own twisted fish way? Is he attempting to scare me to death? Going to the bathroom has become so frightening that many nights I “hold it in” until morning.
I ask both my boys, “Does Oscar splash you?” They say no.
The evidence is clear: Oscar is a misogynfish.
As my foe resides in the living room, he knows I am the first person to get up. In the morning, I am horrified to find the catfish, Oscar’s tank mate, splattered on the floor. Did Oscar push his tank mate out? Was he sending me a message? Did he watch the Godfather last night?
I decide to fight back. It’s on.
I keep washcloths near his tank. Protecting my legacy, I tell my husband that if anything should happen to me, suspect the fish. When I walk by the tank, I yell “I hate you.” We reach an understanding.
Then, a few weeks ago, Oscar does not look good. My husband, tries everything: changing the water, cleaning the filter, and googling Oscar ailments. Nothing works. The big water guy is not swimming anymore, just laying on the bottom of the tank, bobbing on the gravel.
Every morning, I hope I am going to see a dead fish. Upside down looking like death finally caught him, he turns over and swims like Mark Spitz when he sees me. He is hanging on just to irritate me. Hate and spite are very strong emotions and they are keeping him alive.
We have a fish tank to provide a sense of calm to the apartment; but, having an almost dead fish with labored breathing bouncing around the bottom of the tank is bringing the apartment down. No one sits in the living room. I propose euthanasia but my kid– who rules the house– wants Oscar to die naturally. With my open loathing of the fish, my motives are suspicious. I give my version of last rites, yelling at the tank, “Jesus, would you die already?”
Our second catfish nips at Oscar (karma is a bitch) which is not a good sign. When my kid sees this, he agrees, it is time.
We say our goodbyes and Oscar’s human buddy does the deed.
We replace Oscar with two small fish who are indifferent to me. The nights are lonely, and I miss the big guy.