Friday, July 6, 2007

Sad little carnivals and lessons on mortality

The town I live in decided to host a carnival this week. Nothing says we admire the sacrifices of our forefathers like the opportunity to cheat severe injuries on a hastily set up tilt-a-wirl. And I imagine that George Washington weeps tears of pride each time someone buys a deep fried twinkie and a lemon shake-up.

But since this carnival is practically in my backyard, I agreed to take the girls for a quick visit. Killjoy that I am, I maintain veto power on which rides will be enjoyed by my progeny. The whirling-bullet-of-death was quickly deemed unacceptable, so Miss B settled for a ride down the wavy slide. I then followed holding Sister Goldenhair. Luckily, SG loved it (at the risk of appearing to be a big chicken, I will not comment on my own feelings). Miss B then climbed up a giant, inflatable shark, sliding from the tail to emerge from the mouth.

I then took SG on the carousel. She was a bit reluctant at first. Unfortanately her reluctance grew with each passing second. We spent the majority of the ride entangled in a frantic embrace. Miss B desperately wanted to ride the flying swings, but finding herself one ticket shy instead enjoyed her own ride on the carousel.

Then it happened. Miss B spotted the booth giving away goldfish as a prize for landing a ping pong ball in an ivy bowl. She tossed several balls before asking for my help. What happened next was one of my greater mental lapses. I actually took aim and let fly, and my ball was victorious. Why I didn't take the dive, I'll never know. Instead, my 6 year old daughter was the lucky winner of a goldfish (I thank my lucky stars that none of our balls landed in the special center bowl, in which case we would have won a rabbit!). A fish was pulled from a trashcan filled with cloudy water and presented to Miss B.

Miss B, in all her tender-hearted glory, was enraptured with her new pet. We immediately left the fair to get fish food. I made Miss B pay for the food, and her willingness to part with any bit of what is termed her "American Girl Money" made me feel better about the unexpected pet. We went home and carefully prepared fresh water for the fish Miss B named "Lucky."

A few hours later we were arriving home after fireworks. Miss B had hurried in to check on Lucky. I was met by her teary face. It seems that Lucky died while we were gone. My husband flushed him (I'm sure he was humming "Taps" or "Nearer My God To Thee" at the time). My daughter was heartbroken, and I was again glad that we hadn't won a rabbit.

The bright side of all this is that I think Miss B may be ready for a pet. We will likely try another fish, though one bought from PetSmart and hopefully it will have a shot at living longer than 6 hours. I don't think I'll ever be able to go to a fair with out thinking of Lucky and the little girl who loved him so.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Great story.

My first pet was a fish from similar cloudy water beginnings whom I dubbed "Flash".

I originally kept him in a one of those large plastic cups you see at pizza joints.

He died the day after we moved him into a real fish bowl. Twenty bucks gone on a free fish.

My mother, brother and I gathered around the toilet for a solemn moment before shipping Flash to the local treatment plant via the express line.