Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Requiem for a Fish

Sometimes in life, we are given awesome responsibilities. At home, it's the little family -- and that can certainly be enough on a given day. At work, it's everything that being a nurse entails. We hold lives in our hands every day. But I was given an even more awesome responsibility.

The boss' fish.

Now, my boss doesn't like me calling her "boss." She always says "don't call me that," so I switched to the Spanish version, and started calling her "jeffe," which confuses a lot of people, because they think I've gone to the hood and started calling her "heifer." But no, it's our little joke.

The boss has a fish. He's a beautiful betta named Lenny Briscoe. Yep, he's named after Jerry Orbach's Law & Order character. He's been an institution at our office for the past three years. Survived a move to the new office across town, and patiently awaited her arrival back from a trip to London earlier this year. Of course, he got to enjoy his view of London Bridge, posted right next to his aquarium.

He even got used to Baby Ray, the cat given to the boss by a co-worker. She thought the boss needed a cat, but since she's allergic, she went and got Baby Ray -- a fake cat that breathes, with the use of some batteries. That cat creeped Lenny (and me) out for a while, but he got over it on the day I walked in and found BabyRay not breathing. Lenny knew at that point that he had won the battle.

The boss went to South Africa for a week, earlier in the month. I was given the responsibility of feeding him on the weekends, but truthfully, I'd go in and check on him most days, because we bonded -- he'd usually wake up and swim around when he heard me talking. He knew that my voice meant he was about to get a good meal (something my family gave up on a long time ago). Lenny was so happy to see the boss return, and of course, we were too.

So yesterday, I worked a double, and about 8:30, I realized that I hadn't been in to check on Lenny. Went in there, and there he was, upside down. Yes, he had swum off to fishie heaven sometime during the day. This was my nightmare -- I had always feared going in and finding him dead. Maybe I'm some kind of prophet, I don't know. I had even asked the boss what to do if I found him dead, so I followed her wishes: say some nice words, then give him a 21 flush salute. Of course, we had to have a wake for about 15 minutes while I waited for the cleaning guy to clean the funeral home -- I swear he must've used a toothbrush to clean it, cause here I was standing here with our poor, poor departed friend, whilst the horrid operators asked about having fish for dinner, and a co-worker suggested that I put one of my fish in her tank, just to see if she'd notice. It didn't help that their manager said that I must've murdered our boy, and that the cops were coming to dust for prints. Only ONE of my co-workers, bless her heart, understood my pain. Thanks, Erin.

To top it all off, I had to call the boss and tell her, so she didn't come in and find him gone. Damn. I don't like Mondays anyway, but then to have to break that news to the boss at the end of a double just plain sucked. She asked if I'd done him proud, and I told her yep, though I didn't know if it was right, since I don't know how JW funerals are done. (Lenny is JW, like the boss. He is probably up there knocking on other tanks right now.)

And so, let's have a moment of silence for our boy Lenny, the greatest fish ever. He'll be sorely missed, at least by those of us who understand the bond between woman and fish. And soothe your soul with this fish print dress, from Dandelion Vintage. It's perfect for wearing your heart on your sleeve.

RIP Lenny. You'll be missed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, simply beautiful.

Lennie will be missed, he brought joy to a lot of people.

They way he smiled when you walked by his office. Shared his food with everyone. Threw some wicked parties. And the stories he would tell, gosh they would make me blush. Everyone got along with him except for one person with the initials LU.