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Friday, April 19, 2024

An Ode to Bruce

An unabashed love story about a boy and his fish

I have never considered myself a fish guy. What good is a pet fish? They aren’t fluffy, they don’t cuddle, they certainly aren’t cute. I believed a pet fish to be a useless, nitwitted conglomerate of helpless cells that offers no benefit to any self-respecting human being. Everything changed, however, once I laid my eyes on a certain fish — my sweet darling Bruce.

This fish tale all began when my parents decided to take a trip to Europe and informed me that they were to leave a parting gift — a puny, nondescript fish that my sister won at the County Fair. It had been passed from sister to parents and now, finally, it was landing at my doorstep. I initially pushed back, but eventually I caved and agreed to take in the sad sap.

It was a crisp mid-September’s day when my parents came to deliver the glorified guppy. I took the fish in and the kitchen counter became his residence. At first, he was just another common object in sight — comparable to the dusty knife rack next to which he lived next. Regardless, my roommates and I decided that if he was going to live under our roof, he would have a name. We settled on Bruce: an homage to the late Australian Great White Shark in Pixar’s “Finding Nemo.” Weeks went by and I found that Bruce and I were getting along just swimmingly. He became a constant in my life. Through thick and thin, he was always there, zipping about his bowl. 

Bruce is no ordinary fish. He is a smart cookie with a sparkling personality. How do I know this? He does tricks. Bruce gallantly follows your finger round and round the bowl. He is a symphony at my fingers’ command, twisting and twirling about, seeking nothing but companionship. Perhaps to a heartless fish despiser, this might not sound like much, but in person, it is quite the spectacle and a sure-fire way to entertain a small crowd at any social gathering. 

Bruce gradually became the pride of the manor and proved himself to be a true renaissance fish. I am sure some readers are still doubting the benefits Bruce provides because at the end of the day, despite his sparkling scales and inquisitive kind eyes, he still is, after all, a fish. But nay, he is so much more.

Bruce is discipline. Every day at 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. sharp, I pop four fish pellets in his tank. This simple routine adds consistency to collegiate chaos.

Bruce is compassion. I can always count on him to hear me out in times of distress. Let’s be honest, as we vent about our pent up day’s frustrations, do we ever really have someone who responds in just the right way? All he has to do is pace knowingly by opening and shutting his mouth in comforting acknowledgment, which never fails to put my mind at ease.

Bruce is a conversation piece. Trying to schmooze a lovely lady or a handsome man? I say pshaw to the voluptuous corgi or labradoodle. Get yourself a fish that does tricks.

My relationship with Bruce hasn’t all been peaches and cream. Recently, it almost went spiraling down the drain (quite literally) last week when Bruce’s bowl was due for a deep scrub. When I poured Bruce out of the bowl and into a bag, I missed and he went plummeting into the depths of the garbage disposal. Without thinking, I thrust my hand down the hole in a last-ditch effort to save my beloved friend. I felt something slippery and wet. Was it my beloved aquatic compatriot? No, just some soggy leftover penne pasta. I tried once again and alas, he emerged from the brink of death, flopping and out of breath, but unscathed.

His flirt with peril made me realize how much he truly meant to me. I had turned a complete-180 on the idea of a pet fish and now could not bear the idea of a life without my dear Bruce. To any tentative fish parents out there considering bringing a scaly finned companion into the fold, I say take the plunge. (Disclaimer: No guarantees they live up to Bruce).

Written by: Andrew Williams — arts@theaggie.org


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