Welcome to My Menagerie

Dog lovers, cat hoarders, bird feeders, snake keepers and friends of all furries, listen up. We have a fish. One lousy, tiny fish. And I resent it.

I don’t even know if it has a name.

This sounds cold, yes, but I’m being honest. Our perky little lone-surviving zebra has done nothing to offend me. He minds his own business. He just darts around his tank, to and fro, looking so zippy and purposeful 24/7. It’s kind of admirable, really. The problem is what he represents: Compromise.

Years ago, when we learned cat fur and cat pelt (!) were kryptonite to our sons, we conveniently scratched the general idea of mammals as pets. Sure, there are some allergy-free dogs out there, but I’ve casually observed many no-shed breeds seem a bit too adorably hyper for my taste.

Have I researched enough? No. Have I even tried? No again, because I’ve also noticed every pedigree or mix calls for an accessory that usually doesn’t go with my outfit. It’s the little blue plastic bag.

I’m realistic. Employing the dog waste bag every single day would likely be left to me. It’s a tough thing to visualize. Plus, amazingly, the kids have never begged for a puppy. It might have to do with the doggie bag. What strategists.

I just high-fived myself for the millionth time over this streak of luck.

Now I sound even colder. You’re probably looking at your little woofer right now, aghast that another human is thrilled about never having to pronounce, “Dog is my copilot.” I briefly had a beagle mix as a child. I loved him dearly. So I understand your tsk-tsking.

Yet I just high-fived myself again. No drool on the sofa!

I do miss cats. In my former life, I’ve had hoards. Loved ‘em, too. I still swoon over felines. Nearly every day, I get sucked into the internet kitten video vortex. Part of me would love to find a basket of orphaned, wide-eyed fur balls at my doorstep and let my sons sneeze themselves into the Guinness Book of World Records. But I just can’t.

You might ask, “What about a little sequestered tank of gerbils or hamsters?” Again, there’s fur involved, and I’m way too lazy to research whether or not gerbils or hamsters have that dander/pelt thing going on.

Plus, there was the terrible gerbil or hamster incident of years ago. When my oldest was in first grade, he volunteered to have our family babysit the class gerbils or hamsters over spring break, because, just like our pet inventory, our spring break plans are usually lame.

The gerbils or hamsters came in a plastic habitat, which was “sealed” with a tube contraption that screamed, “Honey, I shrunk the McDonald’s PlayPlace.”

At first, all went well, minus the nocturnal scratching noises. Then, by the fifth day, we discovered an empty cage. The little rodents broke free. Clawshank Redemption.

As I searched the house in a most horrified state, I found myself wishing I had photographed the gerbils or hamsters. I seriously considered purchasing body double replacements. There was no way I was going to break bad news to 20 happy 1st graders sporting post-vacation Mickey Mouse (or hamster) hats.

After a frantic morning, I found the critters partying under the piano. I cornered them and picked them up with my bare hands. One bit me on the finger. It bit me! I was bleeding. Bleeding!

There’s nothing like a flashback to make me reevaluate things. Secretly, maybe, I kind of like that toothless fish. I might name him Rufus.