I had all kinds of pets when I was a kid. Dogs and cats, of course, and a snake, some bunny rabbits, a bird. One time I had the crabs. There was a frog and a few chickens, the obligatory fish in the bowl. One of these fish, Sophie Labowitz, died. So I did what any kid would do with a dead goldfish, what kids have been doing with dead goldfish for thousands or years. I flushed her. But I was wrong twice. The first mistake was assuming that, just because she was floating and not swimming, she was dead. The second mistake was in believing that flushing her was a proper burial.
I recall from my childhood a few of my toys. I had an Erector Set: “It’s amazing what you and a wrench can do together.” I had Tinker Toys: “Build your imagination.” I had a Slinky: “It makes a slinkety sound.” One of my most favorite toys however, was the family commode. It acted like a primitive Star Trek transporter. Put something in, activate it, and after some odd sounds, whatever I put into it would be gone. I bid many unlikely items goodbye in this manner, down the dark swirly hole. Don’t ask what these items were as my mother will be reading this account and it’s better if she doesn’t know. Don’t give me a hard time about the environment either. I was young and environmentalism, like homosexuality, hadn’t yet been invented.
But back to Sophie Labowitz, my apparently dead goldfish. I laid her, lovingly, into the water, activated the transporter and watched the swirling begin. Everything went as expected, but when the water calmed, Sophie was still there, floating, not swimming. I tried it again, same result. It was at this point I realized my grievous error. Sophie, obviously, was immortal!
I called Perelman and told him of my discovery. He was equally excited. Over the next many years, Sophie lived with one or the other of us. When the time came, and we always knew when that time was, whoever was Sophie’s keeper would box her up, lovingly, and send her to the other one of us. It was a kinship thing.
On January 15 of 2003 to be exact, after I had not seen her in more than a decade, Sophie arrived in my mail. Perelman and I hadn’t been in touch for some time, so a visit from Sophie was a delightful surprise. She would now, of course, be a welcome house guest. Her head had fallen off, but who could say no to an immortal!