I returned to my childhood home haggard and hypnotic. I floundered in, burdened by my Nike soccer backpack, the only baggage I had from my journey. The airlines still hadn't located my luggage. Of everything I disembarked with, I only had my laptop and passport. Two items I was as grateful for as I was for indoor plumbing.
The house had a sole new acquisition: a fish.
While I was sojourning through South America my sister had appeared at my mom's office. My mom has had a fish named Boy George for years. As he is not a human child, that he has "Boy" in his name makes as much sense as naming my firstborn son "Piglet."
My sister observed Boy George immobilized against the side of the fishbowl by the one plant in the tank. This was as peculiar as the time I returned from France to be told that my sister paid to get her hair braided in cornrows, bought a doo rag, and was at a Mormon Camp in Utah. We are not Mormon.
My sister liberated Boy George and he floated, as alive as Bambi's mother.
"Mom, your fish is dead."
"Oh, honey, don't tell me that," she replied. "I love Boy George."
My mom thrust tears from her eyes as if they were Anthrax spores. My sister sensed that she was upset, so she visited a store and purchased another fish.
She reentered the office with the fish and presented it to my mom like it was a signed original copy of Goodnight Moon.
"He's beautiful, I love him!" my mom vociferated with a hug.
They swung to switch the fish, and saw Boy George swimming around as mobile as the family cat that blitzkriegs my feet every time I walk by. He's under the impression that my toes are mice. I do have some remarkably repugnant feet, but don't feel he is justified in thinking they resemble mice.
Boy George retained residence in the office while the new family fish (entitled Aqua) advanced home. My mom moved offices a few days later. Boy George's life evidently disagreed with the move. He died. My sister again informed my mom of his regrettable mortality.
Her reply: "Don't tell me that! I love Boy George."