Spring Break, like all things (except for the the ineptitude of the Mets) must end. In a few short hours, I’ll be back in my classroom, likely giving myself a pep talk among the unsavory things I will say to myself which are not fit for print, I will probably throw in the old standbys: I live my life a quarter-school year at a time. One-more quar-ter (clap, clap, clapclapclap). It’s almost April, which is basically May, and that’s pretty much summer. First thing’s first, though. This is how Spring Break 2014 ended.
While feeding the fish this morning, Lynnette noticed one of the tiger barbs floating listlessly next to the filter. How she noticed anything through the murk of the tank is a feat in and of itself. Anyway, the poor fish looked ragged, his fins probably nipped at mercilessly by the overlord of the tank, Gary the Gourami. “Where’s the other tiger barb?” I asked. “He’s in there,” Lynnette said. He was in there. Well, his corpse was. “So do you just feed them in the morning without actually looking at them?” I asked. “I do look for them…sometimes,” she said. We decided to put the last tiger barb out of its misery and Lynnette unceremoniously flushed him. We decided to return Gary to the pet store where hopefully karma catches up to him and all the other fish tease him about the filth he’s covered in.
The hardest part was telling Madison that we’re going to put the fish tank away for a while. “Look, mom is too busy to clean and feed the fish,” I said. “Maybe when you are older and you can wake up in the morning without us having to nag you, we can get fish again,” I said. “How many months?” Madison asked. “I was thinking when you’re 7 or 8,” I said. “But how many months is that?” she insisted. “I don’t know – thirty-six,” I said. “That’s so much!” she cried. “So many,” I said.
He looks cute, doesn’t he? Well, he’s not. He’s a psychopath. He’s a serial murderer. He’s killed every other fish who has lived with him in our tank. The list reads like this: a blue and orange gourami (my favorite!); a yellow goby, an algae-eater, and three tiger barbs. I briefly considered calling in the BAU from Quantico to deal with this sick bastard. “Gary’s on the island if you want to say your last goodbyes,” Lynnette said. I walked to island, took this picture, and then let the emotion spill out of me. “You jackass. You trick-ass mark,” I said. I walked back into the room and told Lynnette, “I called him a j-a-c-k-a-s-s,” I said, spelling it out. “What’s that?” Madison asked. “I called him a clown,” I said. “No you didn’t!” she said. We’re getting perilously close to the point where I can’t ask Lynnette if we’re going to the w-a-t-e-r-p-a-r-k today or m-a-k-e-l-o-v-e tonight. Sigh.
I had a softball game at 10:30 and a meeting at 1. On my way home, I checked the score of the Creighton game. It was halftime and the Blue Jays were down by 20. When I got home, I found Lynnette like this on the couch, watching Sophia the First with Madison. “Not watching the Blue Jays?” I asked. Lynnette shook her head with a sour face. “Creighton was losing,” Madison said. I want to take this time to congratulate Creighton University on their season. Now, I want to take this time to berate Creighton University for losing and denying me more opportunities to record Lynnette in fangirl mode. How dare you, Blue Jays. You’re going to tear our family apart.
In the short time I watched the Creighton basketball team, I came to recognize a few of the players: the good one that was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and is the coach’s son; the bearded white guy who bricked a bunch of three-point attempts, and the point guard who missed a lot of open looks. I don’t know if they’ll be back next season, and that’s a shame. I never knew how beautiful life could be with Lynnette invested in a sports team. She’s always kind-of, sort-of supported the Mets, and the Cowboys to a lesser extent, but that’s always been because of me, not her own interest. As such, she’s never really cared if they’ve lost or won. Those details have only mattered to her in the sense that she’d rather they would win so that she didn’t have to deal with a Bitter Phil. Fair enough. To see her watch Maryknoll and Creighton, though, is a wondrous sight. They are events which I will cherish always. It makes me wish we could immediately sign Madison up for soccer or something. Can you imagine the first time another kid elbows Mad – even accidentally? It would be epic. “It’s part of the game,” I’d say. “I’m going to ******* kill that *****************************************! Don’t you ever touch my daughter!” she’d shout, with spittle falling from her mouth like Manoa Falls after a steady rain.
This is how it ends, not with a bang, but with a fried rice and lumpia dinner. So, in honor of Spring Break 2014, Gary the Gourami AKA the Fishtank Killer, and the Creighton Blue Jays…