As an adoptive parent to a betta*, I find that being a good parent is in the little things, like maintaining the water level in my pet fish’s bowl to ensure he has enough oxygen to breathe. So when my dad came over the other night to fix my car brakes (thanks dad) and partake of the lovely meal I’d prepared for him (thanks Pizza Hut) and said “It appears you have not maintained the water level in your pet fish’s bowl, therefore, your fish hasn’t enough oxygen to breathe,” I reluctantly set down my slice of stuffed crust pizza (you know, the one I’d made from scratch) and brought Lieutenant Commander Betta’s bowl over to my kitchen sink for a quick cleaning and water refill.
*For those illiterate Readers (is that an oxy moron?) confusing betta with its homophonic relative beta, let me assure you that I in fact have a pet fish and not a pet isomeric compound. Isomeric compounds are so expensive to keep as pets these days.
Well as I poured the excess dirty water from LCB’s bowl prior to dumping him in the container of dechlorinated water that serves as his temporary residence as I clean and disinfect his bowl, LCB apparently misread the situation as an opportunity for freedom rather than certain death, and made a mad dash in the direction of the edge of the bowl. And before I could say, “No, Lieutenant Commander Betta, don’t go down there because that’s the garbage disposal,” LCB swam right out of the bowl and plummeted down the garbage disposal.
My father, champion of all living creatures great and small, heard my hysterically unhelpful cries of “No, Lieutenant Commander Betta, come back! The garbage disposal is a terribly unwise place to reside if you want to live!” and, tossing his pizza aside, hurried over to heroically fling his arm down the garbage disposal, grasping around desperately for his fallen comrade. Several times throughout the next 90 seconds he was certain he had found my fish only to bring up the remains of a meal I’d not quite finished the week before (“Troi, you realize the purpose of a garbage disposal is to use it to dispose of this food?” “Thanks, dad, I believe you’ve identified the source of the mysterious odor pervading my kitchen and dining area!”).
As my dad’s garbage disposal scavenger hunt lingered on, I had already moved through the five stages of grief and was pondering the greater post-mortem issues in life, such as where I should buy my next betta fish and what I should name him or her. Yet my dad, never one to give up on a lost fish, continued his heroic attempts and finally produced from the disposal my dear undeparted Lieutenant Commander Betta!
I was not optimistic at the likelihood Lieutenant Commander Betta would survive after his traumatic abduction by the garbage disposal, but remarkably he bounced back well from his extended stay in the disposal and, five days later, he is gliding gaily around his bowl as if nothing ever happened.
And my father the hero has recommended that from now on I use the other side of the kitchen sink and implement use of the handy stopper (that’s what that disc-shaped doodad sitting on my counter is for!) to plug the drain to prevent future mishaps.