Only on a Dare
I almost started this story with the words, “I don’t know when my goldfish started talking to me,” but that would have been a bald faced lie. I know exactly when it started; April 13th 2007. I know exactly what his first words to me were too. I didn’t want to get up for work so I had hit the snooze button on my alarm clock four times in a row. The fifth time the alarm went off I just laid there in bed feeling tired and sorry for myself. The buzzer was droning on, in its scratchy bi-tonal buzz like some sort of angry robotic cricket. I did not have the energy to even roll over and turn off the alarm. After 7 minutes of this I heard a splashing from the corner where my aquarium sits and an angry voice started shouting at me. “Turn off the that dig darn diddly alarm clock already would you neighbor?"
Jerk.At that moment, 8:27 am I learned that I not only had a talking goldfish; but he sounded just like an angry Ned Flanders. And even worse was that I could not get him to talk again. I would stand above his tank and beg him to talk. I would reach up and flick his nose as he was eating. I would threaten to dump bleach in his water. I mentioned the 50s college fad of swallowing goldfish. Nothing worked. The little jerk refused to say another word. He’d just swim around and do fishy type things. But every once in a while right when I would give up, he would sort of look at me and smile that little smug smile that fish get and I would want to punch him in his little pisces face.
I had given up trying to talk to him and the routine was once again setting in. Get up. Go to work. Come home. Feed my fish. Watch TV. The weekends were the exact same except I wouldn’t go to work. I’d just sit at home in my underwear and eat hot pockets and play on my X-Box all day. Every once in a while a friend would call and I would go out and drink beer at some greasy pizza joint. About four months after I had given up I was watching TV at three in the morning. It was a work night but I couldn’t sleep and had already decided to call in sick the next day. There was nothing on except for infomercials, ads for Girls Gone Wild, and some show on the History Channel featuring David Carradine talking about cowboy technology. The Kung Fu bastard had even stolen the show from own brother. The jerk couldn’t even let Keith have his own showing without butting in. During the commercials I started flipping channels again, praying that in the last 8 minutes something miraculous would happen and there would be something interesting on TV. No such luck. I started idly watching an ad for a blender called the Magic Bullet. After a few moments of watching some jerk face limey presenter making breakfast for various tropes/houseguest I was ready to flip back to David Carradine explaining about how advanced prostitution was in the Wild West. As I flipped away from the infomercial I heard a voice pipe up from the corner.
“Dude, think you can switch back? I love that commercial. Cracks me up every time.” I didn’t want to jinx the moment, so I flipped back to the previous channel and turned the volume up.
“And all you have to do is put the cheese in the Magic Bullet carafe and blend for four seconds…one…two…three…four. Remove the base and screw on the microwave safe lid. Microwave for 35 seconds then PRESTO, instant nachos.”
“Man I don’t even like nachos, but that looks so good right now.” The fish said.
I was astounded. All I could say was “Why don’t you like nachos? I thought everyone likes nachos?”
“Lactose intolerant. Makes me poo something fierce.”
“When the fuck did you get nachos?”
“Dude, it was before I met you.” And he left it at that. I didn’t want to press it, so my fish and I watched the TV in silence for a few more minutes. “Really what I love in this ad is the characters. You have the know-it-all brit with the non threatening yet exotic accent. His attractive yet not distracting wife. He is showing off his Magic Bullet to a hungover brother in law, his doting wife, a shrill know-it-all Aunt complete with the nasty cigarette dangling from her lips. Its like art. I do not know if the ad writers are making fun of the viewers or if this is just a really clever sell. Is this parody or is it real? All I know is that I don’t have any arms yet I really really really want a Magic Bullet now.”
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Why did you sound like Ned Flanders last time, but now you sound like some of stoned college kid?”
The fish laughed that in that gravely, phlegmatic laugh that fish have. “That was on a bet. You should have seen the look on your face. I don’t how I kept it straight the entire time.”
I let it go at that. The rest of the evening was spent watching late night infomercials, critiquing their various sales pitches. He knew quite a bit about George Foreman’s life story; surprisingly much for a fish. He also did not like the Ronco rotisserie machines. He thought the sound stage/test kitchen presentation in front of a live audience was played out. He thought Ron Popeil was a shill.
I dunno what his beef was. Ron's okay in my book.
When I got up the morning, my fish was dead. That was a shame because he was kind of a cool guy if you like talking about late night infomercials. After he really opened up that evening I found out he was a little racist, but then no one’s perfect. I didn’t get too worked up over his death though. He might have been a talking goldfish, but he was still just a goldfish. I flushed him and went about my business. Although to this day I have no idea who dared him to talk like Ned Flanders. That’s going to bother me for a while.