I’m petsitting a fish. Well, technically my roommate is petsitting the fish, but she’s been gone every weekend for the last month, so on weekends and holidays, Mojo’s care falls to me. I’m not big on fish, and this arrangement makes me feel like a divorced parent with an embarrassingly ugly child.
I’m pretty sure my dislike for all things scaly stems from a scarring high school experience with a betta fish named Stu Jorge. I had him for all of 24 hours before he died in the middle of the 2007 Oscars, probably due to the intense hatred we shared for Leonardo DiCaprio. In our brief time together, Stu Jorge made me realize something: Fish are terrible people.
I don’t want to say I hate Mojo, because his bowl is right behind my left shoulder and he’s probably taught himself to read. After all, he does have a lot of time on his… fins. I would, however, definitely characterize my feelings for him as clammy. I’m a cold fish towards all fish, but Mojo takes the cake (or whatever it is fish eat at birthday parties.)
The Blair Fish Project
1) Fish are condescending. Dogs are always excited to see you, and cats occasionally show interest in your existence. Fish are completely indifferent. Even when you feed them, they could give a damn. When you walk away, they casually float over to the food, let it bump their lips a few times, then disdainfully eat it. It’s like they’re saying, “What’s this? Oh… food? If I must.” They make it exceedingly clear that they do not care if you live or die.
2) Fish are bad listeners. I’ve been having the weirdest week and since my roommates are gone, there hasn’t been anyone around to hear me vent. I’ve been baring my soul to Mojo while I clean the kitchen. I don’t know why– he doesn’t even have external ears and it’s not like he’d use them if he did. I once pet-sat two iguanas who were better listeners than him. At least they’d hiss and hide from me when I’d talk about my problems. Mojo can make me feel completely insignificant with one tail flick… but he also knows all my secrets. I’m very vulnerable.
3) Fish are frighteningly good at playing dead. Mojo likes to stay very still in the upper corner of his tank, where it’s hard to tell if he’s upside down or not. The extent of my fish knowledge is this: upside down and not moving = bad. Each time I walk into the kitchen, I glance at him, see him in the corner, and then rush over to make sure his gills are flapping. The other day he was so still that I poked him with a net to see if rigor mortis had set in and then he started spastically wriggling around and splashing. I jumped about a foot in the air and splashed water down my shirt. He’s toying with me. I know he is.
4) Everyone in the world thinks they’re a fish expert. I can’t invite anyone into the apartment without someone commenting about the state of Mojo’s care. I’ve heard the same thing about parenting, so if it’s anything like this, I’m never procreating. Literally every single guest has had Mojo advice. My roommate says his tank doesn’t need to be cleaned for a while, but when he plays dead like that he freaks people out and suddenly I’m “a bad petsitter” with “no regard for other people’s animals” and “a weird vendetta against this fish”. All of that is true in Mojo’s case, but he started it.
5) Fish smell. First I thought it was the kitchen, so I cleaned everything and threw out the expired stuff in the fridge. I took out the trash, I checked for mold in the cabinets, and then I started looking around the rest of our apartment for the culprit. I finally figured out it was the fish. I don’t know how one tiny fish can smell so awful, but I’m willing to bet it’s because he’s a jerk. He’s just sitting in that tank, plotting mind games and pooping everywhere. It’s enough to make a person a little crazy.
6) Fish make you feel bad about yourself. Today Mojo was swimming around more actively than usual, swishing his tail and nudging the gravel at the bottom of the tank and being almost (dare I say it?) cute. I came closer to watch him play and admire his fins. I should have known it was a trap. As soon as I bent down to look at him, he quickly turned, looked straight into my eyes, and opened his mouth in what I can only describe as a silent fish scream. Then he shut his mouth and swam casually away like he hadn’t just telepathically called me grotesque and unlovable.
7) Betta fish are too small to eat. Generally, eating the pet you’re sitting is a very bad idea, but sometimes this fish gets so snobby that I start to consider it. Mojo isn’t even snack-sized, though. It’s much less trouble to get a bag of Goldfish crackers and then eat them threateningly in front of him when he swims out of line. Not that I would ever do that. (I totally do that.)
Oh God. I just turned around and he’s staring right at me, watching everything I do. He knows! He knows what I’ve been saying about him! I’m afraid to close my eyes. I’m afraid to open them.