Last year my mom gave Alex a fish tank for Christmas. No, I don't know why. The woman is obsessed with the idea that each person in her family needs X number of presents. She will buy X number of presents for each person whether they want them or not. When you don't tell my mom what you want for the holidays she retaliates against you and buys you things SHE KNOWS YOU DON'T WANT a proof that you are clearly a fool.
This happened to my daughter last year. She had 10 things total on her Christmas list. When you distribute that around the people who want to buy her things, it was not enough. My mom kept trying to get Alex to add more things. Alex kept firm to her list. Finally the big day arrived. Among other things, Alex got a fish tank from my mom. It was a shock. A Finding Nemo tank. Oh joy. "Do I have to get a fish?" Alex had asked. I told her that she didn't have to, but eventually she decided that she would rather have a fish tank with a fish than one with out. So we went to the pet store where she picked out a beta. If you aren't familiar with these little jewels, the Beta fish are sturdier versions of the gold fish. You can literally just plop them in a bowl of water and forget about them.
As we were paying for the fish the lady explained the pet store's return policy. "If the fish dies in the next two weeks you can bring it back for a refund or get another one." Alex's face lit up. "So if it dies we get our money back?" The clerk confirmed. Then Alex turned to me. "If the fish dies and we get a refund, can I have the cash?" It was a $3 fish. I just shrugged and said sure.
As we drove home that day, unwanted fish in had, Alex began to talk about what she would do with the money. She rattled off a surprisingly long list of things she could buy with just $3. She recited the return policy to me a few times. She seemed so joyous at the prospect of the fish's death, I became worried for the poor little guy.
"You can't kill it." I said, "They won't take it back if its been mistreated."
"Oh... I know that, but fish die all the time."
Every night for the next two weeks Alex would lay in her bed and just stare at her fish. Willing it to die. When the fish didn't die on cue as she had hoped, Alex lost all interest. She never even gave him a name. Its been almost a year now and he is still just "the fish".
This morning, as Alex dressed for her school Christmas party, she began to reminisce about the unnatural life span of the fish she chose. "I can't believe that fish is still here. I don't think he will ever die. I think that store did some sort of evil science experiment on him to make him immortal. That's why he's red. Gosh life is so weird."