19 October 2007

How Brian Came To Be Monocular

I'm not good at keeping fish alive. My brief attempt to become a Fish Owner in my first year at University sadly ended after only a few weeks with the flushing of Doctor Honeydew and the sub-geranium burial of Beaker soon after.

But my Crazy Sister is good at keeping fish. She always keeps a few tanks of goldfish and Black Moors who usually enjoy long healthy lives. I suspect that this is because she knows much more about keeping fish than I do, using plants and snails to maintain underwater eco-systems and finding time for the essential fish-keeping tasks like changing the water.

The most remarkable fish she ever kept was a Black Moor with long flowing fins and goggly protruding eyes called Brian (naming your five fish after the Backstreet Boys is grounds for being called "Crazy", in my opinion.) His early life was unremarkable but an event soon occurred which set him apart from the other Backstreet Boys. That event was The Great Siphoning Accident.

One day, my Crazy Sister decided to clean the tank and replace the water. Her first task was to siphon most of the old water out. I suppose that if I'd changed fishtank water many times in my life, I would have cut corners too. This day, she decided not to remove the fish during the siphoning process but instead to keep a close eye on them as she held the siphon while the water drained out.

But boring tasks are daydreaming tasks and as she mentally floated away for a moment, Brian swam too close to the siphon. Crazy Sister felt a gentle "thoonk" in the tube and looked down to see a black fish eye zipping through the siphoning tube with blood vessels streaming behind it. A quick check of the tank revealed Brian calmly swimming away with similar blood vessels trailing from where one of his goggly eyes used to be.

Now Black Moors characteristically have poor vision to begin with and Brian's certain visual handicap along with the severity of his siphoning injury indicted that perhaps his rapid re-classification from binocular to monocular would end in his ultimate flushing. But the strangest things can happen in the animal world, and to our collective amazement, Brian made a full recovery and later rejoined his band members in the clean tank. (I like to imagine they went on to write a hit single called "Black Moor's Back: Larger Than Life, but a little Incomplete.")

Brian lived for years after The Great Siphoning Accident, even outlasting his fellow Backstreet Boys. He became a large, fat, one-eyed aristocrat of a fish who always swam ten-degrees off vertical and who permanently wore a glum (if somewhat startled) expression.

And perhaps the greatest irony is that although The Great Siphoning Accident is folklore in our family and we will remember it for generations to come, Brian forgot it three seconds after it occurred.


Crazy Sister said...

I'd forgotton Brian was named after a Backstreet Boy - he just took on a life of his own! I bought him from a tank of healthy fish who were bullying him badly - his fins and tail were eaten right back. I had to save him and the pet shop guy gave me a discount - $2.30 down to $2!

Once I took him along to Bible Study in a jar, telling my startled group that he needed to get out more. A one eyed fish in a jar on a coffee table is always a talking point! Maybe I am crazy, but I find that I am generally liked and my eccentricities well tolerated.

Brian passed away just before my first child was born and it felt very much like the end of an era. Reluctant to part with him, I wrapped Dead Brian in newspaper and let him dessicate, then cremated the parcel and funnelled the ashes into a pretty little jar from Silly Sollys.

Needless to say, I submerged Dead Brian's Urn in the fish tank.

Things seldom go to plan in my life, though, and soon the stopper in Brian's Urn started disintegrating. I solved that problem by capping the bottle with a baby bottle teat - quite a neat solution, I think. I could have my own Household Hints column.

Did you know, for example, that mice skeletons can be removed from behind cupboards and neatly packaged as an attractive present for a special brother?

And dead mice that you CAN'T find will stop stinking you out if you simply move house.

Givinya De Elba said...

Brian must have had such personality to remove all memory of Nick, Howie, AJ and Kevin. Did you know that the real Backstreet Boys lost Kevin in June last year so he could "pursue other interests and move on with the next chapter of his life."? He had a baby boy Mason this July. These are the things you learn while researching for a blog.

Tamara said...

I remember Brian and the other fish in the tank. I even think I was over at your house the day that Brian lost his eye. Unbelievable! I have even retold the story over the years, but skewed it over time... my version went that Brian was sucked out on to the grass outside and we went searching for it! Is this true or was that my imagination??!!

Well done though, I absolutely love your blog! All of it too, not just Brian's story! For example, I now understand the frustration of a client of mine who calls twice weekly to complain about her bed bugs even though there is absolutely nothing I can do for her!!!

Heather said...

Oh my. I so regret clicking this post... Few things squick me out in life, being raised on a farm as I was and a tomboy to boot, but fish eyes? Definitely one of them. Especially those bulgy-out kinds, like Brian had. *shudder*

I never remove my daughter's goldfish when I'm cleaning the tank water, but (a) she doesn't have bulgy eyes, just regular, nasty fish eyes and (b) she avoids the vacuumy thing, preferring to stay as far away in the tank as she can. But now? I may not run the risk - I think Hubby will be doing the water changes from now on in our house.


Off to bed, where invariably fish eyeballs trailing blood vessels will feature prominently in my nightmares.............