Have we talked about my fish?

Most of you who are regulars around my social media playgrounds know about Deacon the Goldendoodle. (He gets his picture tweeted from time to time and has made appearances on Instagram.) But I haven’t talked much about my accidental fish, Pearl. And here’s the most interesting thing about Pearl–he was a rescue.

Of course, it also occurs to me that the fact that he’s a dude fish named Pearl might merit some explanation. He’s a beautiful betta with lavish, fluttery fins in extravagant shades of pink and blue–a glorious drag queen of a fish, so it seemed appropriate to name him after an actual drag queen. (Those of you who watched the last season of RuPaul’s Drag Race are familiar.)

I acquired Pearl quite by accident. I’d just been reading about feng shui and how putting a water feature in your workspace is supposed to be an awesome idea for improving the flow of your chi. But I’m lazy and wasn’t about to go out and organize a fish, so I jokingly said, “If one lands in my lap, I’ll take it.”

The universe has a great sense of humor. A week later we were moving our daughter out of her dorm and noticed a tiny bowl sitting outside the RA’s door. It looked like it was filled with swamp water; it was VILE, filthy and malodorous, and something in the water was moving. I bent over to take a look and saw a fish–looking as terrified as a fish can look. He darted back into the broken tiki god that someone had thrown into his bowl, too scared to come out.

When the RA came to inspect the offspring’s room, we mentioned the fish that someone had dumped on him. “Fish? DUDE, I CAN’T HAVE A FISH.” We told him we’d take it, and by the time the inspection was done, he’d handed me the bowl and wished me well. It was worse up close. The smell was full on STENCH, and there were things in the water that you do not want to know about.

But we took Pearl home, gave him a name, and headed to the pet store to find him a tank of his own with proper filtration. He got blue gravel to offset his fins, a pink plastic plant for a cozy place to hide, and a mermaid for a companion. It took a few days of peace and quiet in his new tank to settle him down, but eventually he started creeping out at mealtimes to gape at me and now he does a full-0n dance for his dinner, a sort of Disco Inferno routine that suits him beautifully. He’s got a lot of personality for a fish–a common thing with bettas, I’m told–and I think he believes I’m his servant, but that’s okay. He’s come a long way since his days as a throwaway fish, and my chi has never been better.