The Dogwood Festival and The Goldfish

I love the Dogwood Festival.  I do.  I love it.  I love the Carnies and the exquisite light on the McIntyre Park hillside in April.  I love the Little League games in the field below and the Funnel Cones, Sno Cones, and PIckles on a Stick. I love the spinning lights and the slow family crowd in the early, weekday eves. I love the games where “Everyone is a Winner” and the games that are simply impossible.

Like the one where you throw the ping-pong balls into tiny goldfish bowls to win a fish.  Ha!  A game for suckers!

I could not dissuade my kids from taking a chance.  Luke’s friend, Harry, ran up and announced that he wasn’t allowed to play that game because the fish always died.  Ha!

The very nice man let my 6 year-old daughter have extra chances, knowing she was a sure loser.  He took pity on her random aim, which landed the balls ferociously hither and yon.

She won two fish and my son won one. The guy almost threw up.  Not his idea of a good night.

Luke’s fish was like a drug-crazed dynamo. A coked-out kamikaze–darting this way and that into its plastic bag.  Anya’s were serene, almost fish-like.

So, last night we put the fish into two pitchers (Anya’s and Luke’s), fed them betta fish food (and hoped they would die).

What you may not know is that goldfish are a pain in the ass.

A betta fish can live in a tin can.  A goldfish must have special food (vegetarians), enormous tanks (they need their space), and very special water (aerated).  And they defecate all the time.  So the tank is a mess.

We didn’t learn all of this until today.  We left the festival last night with 2 little plastic bags and left the pet store today with 61.00 of crap I had no intention of buying.   But by now the kids had named the fish. Never name a fish!

(I am reminded of the time I told my mother I had named the kittens at my Aunt’s house and she said, “Oh, good — Wait!  Did you say, ‘maimed’ or ‘named?'” Maimed was OK.)

We came home from a long day with the tank, gravel, water conditioner, food (vegetarian).  The two fish in Anya’s room were dead (thank god) and the crazy-assed fish in Luke’s room was alive.

The point of this story is how the kids reacted.  Luke got into the bathtub and cried and wailed for Anya’s two fish (his was still alive).

Anya asked if she could go back to the fair and try to win more fish.

When it came time to “send the fishies back to the ocean,” Luke came up immediately, said goodbye and even flushed the toilet, himself.

Anya said,  “Just do it!  I don’t want to see!”

I still love the Dogwood Festival.  Yes.  But I think the nice man and I have learned a lesson.  And Harry was right.

– Kate

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