at work, there is a fish tank.
when i first began working there it contained two fish. one named Libby (short for Liberace) and Iggy (for Iggy Pop). Libby is a big orange fish who was purchased in Chinatown and was first believed to be a goldfish. in less than six months she grew exponentially and it was concluded that she was, in fact, a koi fish. Libby is huge. Libby also swims around very fast, dramatically, and aggressively. she has little fish eyebrows (that always appear furrowed) and opens and closes her lips at you when you look at her in the tank. if a fish could bark or yell, this is what it would look like.
her companion at the time, Iggy, was what is known as a fancy goldfish. it’s one of those bulbous goldfish with big bellies and bulging eyes. he wasn’t very big (a third of Libby’s size at most), but he was downright the most charming and endearing fish you could have ever met. you see, Iggy had this condition called dropsy. there’s even a Pinback song about this condition. this condition causes too much air to be gathered in a fish’s swim bladder, therefore inverting the fish. Iggy spent over a year of his life living upside down (we considered poking him to pop the air bubble in his stomach, but could never bring ourselves to follow through with the idea of it). most fish don’t live past three weeks with this condition. he was known as the “upside down art store fish.” our customers would bring friends and family who were in town specifically to meet Iggy. he even has a facebook page.
Libby and Iggy’s relationship was a complex one. as Iggy would either float at the very top of the tank at all times or he’d drop to the bottom of the tank and lie on his back. Libby never really knew what to do with him. he was never found in between the top or bottom of the tank unless it was during feeding times when he would very enthusiastically swim around in small circles trying to catch the pieces of food that Libby had missed. Libby had a habit of pushing him around the tank like a soccer ball or resting very close to him and they would both sit very still at the bottom of the tank.
i was there the day that Iggy died. both fish had been acting weird that day. Libby had ended up floating very still on her side half at the top of the tank. i was sure she was dying. Iggy was a little more mellow than usual that day, but it was Libby i was really worried about. and then finally, Iggy stopped moving and his belly stopped puffing and his gills quit flapping. i removed him from the tank, placed him in a plastic bag and put him in the fridge. if any fish didn’t deserve the toilet bowl, it was Iggy. with Iggy’s removal, Libby came back to life, swimming ferociously and desperately around the tank. her mood was so manic that we knew we had to find her a new companion immediately. enter a white fish that we call M.J. (yes, that would be for Michael Jackson).
Iggy had an open casket funeral. ten plus people came to a bar where we had laid him in a wooden box filled with black glitter and some small pink plastic flowers (a customer had given them to us the day he died when she’d learned the news). we sprinkled him with some whiskey (as a toast to his life) and set about for the wharfs where we lit the box on fire and set him out to sea. it was a proper viking funeral and it was perfect.
when we moved the art store to it’s bigger and better location, we decided that the fish could also use an upgrade. a larger tank was acquired along with a proper filter, another fish, and a snail. the third fish was a sucker fish we named Lady Gaga, because she sucks so much (of course). and the snail was named Larry for reasons i can’t disclose.
Libby and M.J. seem to have a good relationship, perhaps because M.J. is also a koi ? i’m not really sure why she has accepted him so well and why, since day one, she’s given Lady Gaga the cold shoulder. perhaps she’s discriminating, i wouldn’t put it past her.
it was just over a week ago that i was coming out of the bathroom and walking towards the water cooler to grab a glass of water that i stepped, and slipped, on something slimy on the floor. with surprise, i looked down at the floor. i stared at what appeared to be a crushed shrimp on the floor. i stared a little closer and to my complete disbelief and horror, i realized that it was not a shrimp. it was Lady Gaga.
how Lady Gaga ended up on the floor is still a mystery to all of us, but we have all concluded that Libby most likely tossed her out of the tank and onto the floor. or else Lady Gaga was so depressed in her living environment that she tossed herself out, but Lady Gaga didn’t ever do anything but ride the bottom of the tank sucking up various debris. she didn’t strike me as the suicidal type who would have taken Libby’s behavior personally or too seriously.
so, we have Libby and Michael Jackson and Larry living in harmony in the upgraded tank. Larry just stays suctioned to the side of the tank. you can’t see him move, but he’s always in a new place whenever you look in the tank. if Libby doesn’t like Larry, you wouldn’t know it. for all we know, Larry may be holding onto the side of the tank for dear life to avoid the same fate as poor Lady Gaga ?
may she rest in peace.
[still floating. drawing and computer application.]