A Tale of a Tiny Heroic Fish and His Big Dumb Owner

Fuzzy and I have a betta fish. His name is Miles, cause he's "kind of blue." We love him. I am kind of a jerk, cause I always call him Sherman, which was the name of our betta fish before Miles. In my defense, it's always an accident, and we had Sherman for a long time. So whenever I talk about Miles, I sort of always call him "Shmiles." Which isn't really a bad name either. Let's just say it's my nickname for him.

Miles has a heater in his bowl, cause Chicago is kinda always cold even when it isn't, so the water evaporates out of his bowl pretty quickly. We keep some pre-slimed fish water in a jug near his bowl to top him off when things are getting pretty low, and when we do, we always say "Hey Shmiles, it's raaaaiiiinnnng." (only when Fuzzy does it, he calls him "Miles.")

Miles is pretty active--he made an epic bubble nest the other day, then he had some techno fog machine action going on, then the next day his water was crystal clear. But his bowl was filling up with a good deal of fish poop, so I decided it was time for a total water change and thorough cleaning.

I had been letting the water sit out all day to get to room temperature. Bettas don't do cold well and they don't like the temperature change of the water. I knew that the water might still be a little too cold, but he was only going to be in it a second before I could put the heater back in the bowl. I scooped him out in his net, put him in a smaller container of his fishbowl water, and scrubbed to bowl clean. As I was doing it, I had this visual flash of Shmiles jumping out of the net and hitting the floor. I thought to myself "that would be the WORST if he did that. Thank goodness he's never done it and it won't happen." I do this sometimes before I fall down stairs. I will see myself falling down stairs, I'll think "tisk, that's funny. I am not going to fall down these stairs." And then somehow I will fall down the stairs. Please note that this implies that there are multiple instances in which I have fallen down a flight of stairs.

I filled the bowl to the top with clean fresh water, poured Sher-Miles into his net, and tipped the net over the bowl. Only Miles didn't make it into the bowl. As I was tipping, he jumped out of the net and onto the counter. I screamed. Then he jumped again, off the counter, and onto the floor. I panicked! My tiny little precious fish, on my nasty gross kitchen floor! And imagine that fall! His tiny little fish bones must have felt such an impact!

It took me a second before I was able to pick him up off the floor. I was scared I was going to crush him, and his was slimey, and I FELT LIKE AN ASSHOLE. I held the little guy in my hand and plopped him into the water. The shockingly cold water. He darted around super quick around the bowl, and I was convinced he was going to have a heart attack. I put him back in the living room and put his heater in the bowl, and he floated down to the bottom of the bowl under his pink flowers. I dropped in a piece of food as a consolation. He didn't care.

At this point, I was trying to calm down, and I, too, was a little bit in shock. I tried to call Fuzzy. I went to check on the fish. I noticed a white patch on him that I had never seen before. And as I looked closer, I noticed that he was very slanty or maybe even UPSIDE DOWN.

A small note about my phobias: I don't have a lot of fears. This isn't true. I hate and am scared of the following things: snakes, amplified whispers, amplified heart beats, computer voices, and dead fishes in tanks. Also cancer and all that shit. But my whole life, I've wanted to have fish and look at fish, and my whole life, I've been terrified at pet stores because of seeing sometimes a fish floating upside down in a tank. It's happened more than I wish it has. One time years ago, I went to the aquarium here, and there was a dead turtle in a tank. Traumatizing. So when the possibility arose that a) there might be a dead fish in the living room b) that dead fish was MY dead fish and c) the fish was dead BECAUSE I KILLED IT, I had a total meltdown.

I finally got ahold of Fuzzy, and I proceeded to have a complete and total major sobfest to him. Lucky for me, Fuzzy is the kindest, sweetest, most loving man that has ever existed, and he calmed me down and handled the situation like a champ. I snuck into the living room to peek in the bowl, I noticed that Sherman Miles was at the top of the bowl. WAS HE FLOATING UPSIDE DOWN?  More tears. I then convinced myself that I was The Most Horrible Person That Has Ever Lived In the History of the Universe. The ultimate worse. I killed my sweet husband's beloved fish.

We were going to an event last night, so I got off the phone, washed my face and put on some make-up. I emailed my brother telling him about how terrible a person I was. I pouted. Then, I got the urge to check on Shmiles again, so I snuck into the room, peeked around the doorway, and what did I see?! SWIMMING!


He looked like hell. He had bubbles all over him, his eyes were super droopy, and his beautiful fins looked all ripped up. But his little fins were moving, and he was swimming around and bobbing up and down! I squealed with glee! I WAS NOT A MURDERER!!!!!!!!


I picked up Fuzzy from work, and we talked about our stressful days and this that and the other. We talked about Miles and the great Floor Incident of 2013.  We both determined that we needed a beer.

On our way into the event, Erica texted me to tell me that an old friend of ours had died. This friend was only in my life for a short period of time, but his impact was HUGE on me and my circle of friends at the time. Erica and I sent each other a series of text messages, laughing about old times and crying and trying to process the shock of the news. I was at my most awkward at the event. I'm awkward at events when I haven't just almost murdered my fish and found out sad news, so I was at a nice new level of awkward, I am sure to the delight of the poor folks who attempted to have a normal conversation with me.  Fuzzy made sure I had food and beers and company at the party, and then lovingly made a joke about falling and hitting the floor. Jerk.

When we got home, I was nervous that maybe tiny Miles had drifted away out of exhaustion or heart-attack. Happily, he was his usual not-dead self. He still had a couple of bubbles on his cheeks, but he was looking better.

This morning, I went to feed him, and I am happy to say that he is completely fine! No bubbles, no haggard fins. I'd even say he is swimmingly good (pun intended).

I think I am going to make Fuzzy clean his bowl from here on out.