This is Baxter, the newest addition to the BK Lounge. He is a beta fish. Baxter lives in a square tank; he has a bamboo corner and marble floor. Like me, Baxter likes to people-watch. He is a quiet observer. He casually circles his tank, watching five girls go about their daily routine. Walking, talking, cooking, talking, dancing, brushing, sipping, talking, chugging, washing, baking, sleeping, spilling, breaking, laughing, dancing all around his high post on our granite counter top.
His habitat is static, and his water does not move with the pull of a tide or become jarred by a heavy wind. He swims in circles, occasionally eating particles that ripple the surface above him or slurping scum from the crevasses of his marble bedrock.
He watches Taylor bake bread, after bread, after delicious bread. He sees Kassi apply Neosporin meticulously to yet another accumulated flesh wound. He eats the same pink pebble snack everyday and he has no enemies to name.
He reminds me of a fish I knew named Fred. He was my mom’s fish. As giant a goldfish as they come, Fred was trapped in that slippery body, capable of most things human, I’m sure of it. He would stick his giant fish lips to the glass wall of his tank that imprisoned him and blow bubbles at his visitors. When he wasn’t trying to speak to us, Fred had only one thing on his agenda.
He was part Koi, maybe – with a bulging head and protruding eyeballs. Fred was the size of a child’s fist. When he wasn’t swimming, the weight of his belly would drag him downwards like an anchor.
Like all fish, Fred wasn’t expected to last forever. I was away at college when he passed – mom called me with the bad news. Fred Jr. succeeded him (not for long), and now, Wally swims alone in that tank, nestled in a corner by a great bay window overlooking my parents backyard.
My favorite fish used to be the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, Hawaii state fish. The name rolls off your tongue. First time I ever saw one in the wild was the same day I got sea-sickness for the first time. My face turned green and I was clammier than E.T. My only defense was to free-roll around on the floor of the snorkeling boat in my sherry robe.
I’ll never be a fish.