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coming back to a pet store near you

January 17th, 2005

I will return to life as a Siamese fighting fish [wikipedia.org]. That is if the Hindu or Buddhist idea of samsara[wikipedia.org] and karma [wikipedia.org] is correct.

Why?

Stasia told me so when I was managing the fish store. It went something like this: Siamese fighting fish, hereafter referred to by their more common name, betta fish, beat the living crap out of each other if they are in the same fish tank (at least the male ones do, they also tend to kill females after the whole mating and egg laying thing). So rather than let them beat the crap out of each other we kept them in cups next to the front counter. At any one time there were between 5 and 10 of them on the counter.

On day I was sitting behind the counter talking to Stasia about her, very nice, freshwater plant tank that she had been tending for about a year. All of the sudden one of the betta fish on the counter went all epileptic and jumped out of his container.

Stasia look down at her feet. I leaned over the counter to look down. There on the floor was this blue (I still remember the color!) betta fish flopping back and forth.

“Um,” I said, “hold that thought Stasia,” as I walked around the counter and attempted to grab the franticly flopping fish off of the carpet. When I got my hands on it — which took a few tries as it is slimy and was flopping back and forth — it was covered in dog hair. (We didn’t sell dogs or dog supplies, the hair was from Brooklyn and Fafner, our two store mascots, but that’s another story) I walked over to the nearest fish tank, a 60 gallon breeder that was one of the tanks we sold live plants out of. I then dunked my hand and the hairy fish into the tank and shook off all the dirt and grim — and hair.

After I plopped the betta fish back into it’s tiny cup on the counter I look up at Stasia, who had a completely blank expression on her face, and said “you were saying?”

“You’re going to come back to life as a betta fish. You’re going to start your life in some rice patty. Then someone is going to bag you up, in a tinny little bag, ship you across the world and put you on display in tinny cups for people to stare at all day. And, you’re going to flop out of that cup and suffocate to death on the filthy floor of some pet store.”

From that day on we kept all the betta fish in the regular 15 gallon tanks that lined the fresh water section. One per tank with the friendly fish.

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