hel·low (ˈhelō/) exclamation. A salutation embodying the vibrant energy found in the color yellow.

03 October 2012

New Bowls

I have seven bananas because there are seven days in a week. Monday morning, banana. Tuesday morning, banana. Wednesday morning, banana. Thursday morning, banana. Friday morning, banana. Saturday morning, banana. This morning, banana. Tomorrow morning…I don’t know. That’s why I’m putting back these seven bananas. It’s not that I’m sick of them, I’m not. Obviously I should be having more of a balanced breakfast than a cup of coffee and a banana dipped in strawberry jam. Especially for someone at my age. Bananas are probably the culprit for my poor health, but that’s beside the point. I’m not going to violate health code or anything for putting these back on the rack, am I?
Stores get touchy about that sort of thing, you know? That’s why I don’t work in food service. Too much hand-washing, hair-netting, apron-donning, plastic-gloving, germ-cognizance. The closest connection I have to this store is those betta fish up front. You know, the colorful little fish sitting in the stacked little containers. I breed them. I’ve been a betta fish breeder for twenty-three years now. Started as soon as my son could make his own lunch. Since bettas have gotten quite popular over the past decade, I’ve managed to make a decent living for quite some time. Aren’t too many of us around, you know? People don’t always realize that bettas are actually Siamese fighting fish. ‘Betta’ just comes from the genus name. Most stores like this sell Betta Splendens. They spar a lot, as they’ve been bred to over the centuries. It complicates the breeding process a bit. I always have to keep them separate. Females have to be relocated after the nuptial embrace or an aggressive male will kill her as she tries to eat the eggs. Seen it way too many times. I must say, it’s quite gruesome. Most people don’t realize that nature about them. That’s why they have to be contained. I keep very close tabs on them, especially the bubble nests. The males maintain them until the larvae absorb the yolk sacs. The fry leave the nest soon after. This is where I have to be very vigilant, especially for Piscinoodinium. Probably kills 90% of bettas in captivity. I have to check the filters, make sure nothing harmful enters the tank. They have to be kept on a strict diet too, so they’re used to the pellets people feed them. Ground up bloodworms, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae…People don’t know this, but it’s important. People don’t know the bettas’ real colors either. It wasn’t until becoming pieces of décor that they’ve been selectively bred to have the colorful scales. In the wild they used to be a drab brown or gray. But that wouldn’t look too pretty in a vase, would it?
Now I know boys aren’t too particular when it comes to color, but I brought a betta to my son the other day. He’s living in an apartment now down in Phoenix. All the way in Arizona, can you believe it? Figured I’d give him a house-warming gift. Put a real nice plant in there, along with the largest and bluest CrownTail I’d grown. Got a nifty bowl, a new design our company was trying out, with lots of aquamarine marbles along the bottom. You should’ve seen it. I trimmed the plant just right, keeping the roots curled at an angle the fish could easily reach, considering they have upturned mouths and such. Anyway, my boy, Junior, put it on the dining table. It’s the same one he had in my basement. There are still burn marks on the legs, but it’s still in generally good condition. It’s the only thing he had left after the fire. It’s sentimental, you know? It’s the same table I used when I lived down there. Once my father moved out, I kept the one he left in the kitchen. It had a nice bowl in the center where I put my bananas.
It’s hard, letting him go. Had him all to myself for thirty-one years. Homeschooled him, cooked his meals, taught him how to drive…I love my son. His mother didn’t. She wanted to send him to daycare. Wouldn’t raise him herself because she didn’t care. The world was tough. Didn’t want him to get consumed, you know? All those other kids had germs. And Junior was small, the bigger kids would pick on him, you know? He had red hair and none of the other kids had red hair. I was afraid they’d bully him. But he’s bald for now. The flames got to his hair, but the burns weren’t bad. He’ll be ok, I think. He’s no fry. Not anymore. I told him I wouldn’t light any more candles. The glass stand broke when I left for work. I hadn’t meant to slam the door that hard, but sometimes the boy just gets to me, you know? We got in a little tussle, you see, and he broke the bowl on the kitchen table. He could get real mean sometimes. I didn’t blame him for it though. I got mean too. It was hard to live together. Even when we were on separate floors. Now we’re eighteen hundred miles apart.

I can’t just see him when I want. If you have a son, you’d know what I mean. It’s like those betta fish up front. They’re just stacked there, right where I can watch them. Twenty-seven right now, counted them as I walked in. Next week there may only be sixteen. I won’t know what happened to the others. It would worry me. Maybe I wouldn’t care so much if I hadn’t put them in the little bowls in the first place, you know? If I came back next week and all the bananas were gone, I wouldn’t be worried.  There’s a chance I wouldn’t even notice, considering I’m not buying bananas anymore.
So do you like mangoes? I’ve got a new table in my apartment. A new bowl too. I’m looking for something to fill it with.

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