Jewish World Review May 28, 2004 / 8 Sivan, 5764

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Fish makes mom flounder | Seeing a goldfish swimming in a jar of water on the kitchen counter early weekend morning naturally leads a mother to ask questions.

Our last goldfish joined Nemo and company by way of a few brief words said over a toilet bowl years ago. Last I knew, unlike dogs, fish are unable to retrace their paths and find their way home 600 miles and two years later.

The kids are still unconscious, so I start with the husband. "Know anything about the fish in the kitchen?" I ask.

"The youngest brought it home around midnight," he says.

"Well at least she hasn't had time to get attached to it and name it, so it shouldn't be a problem to get rid of it," I say.

"His name is Gill," the husband says.

"And how did Gill the goldfish happen to follow her home?" I ask. "She won the centerpiece, and Gill was in it."

Centerpieces have mushroomed into very big deals these days. Winning them isn't exactly rocket science, but you do need a sixth sense that leads you to the chair, plate and napkin with the special sticker granting you legal rights to the centerpiece.

On several occasions, I've been more than happy to take home a bouquet of flowers and a display of floating candles. I once lugged a fall centerpiece, with miniature pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn hot-glued to half a bale of straw, up six flights of stairs in a parking garage. Winning a centerpiece is fun. It is as close as many of us will ever come to winning the lottery.

I've seen women jump for joy over centerpieces made of raw coffee beans, empty wine bottles wrapped in raffia and a potted plant with aphids swarming around the base.

I have never seen anyone jump for joy over a centerpiece that swims. Then again, I've never been to a formal dinner with several hundred high school kids.

Turns out, we're lucky our kid brought the fish home. Several boys simply picked up their centerpieces and chugged them, fish and all. Still, it's one thing to give away a pink azalea that you know you'll kill and quite another to give away a fish.

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The boy across the street with the water lizard politely said no thank you.

He said his lizard eats fish. I said I had no problem with nature's food chain, whereupon he ran inside his house.

We offered Gill to a family with two preschool children, but they have a rabbit they're trying to unload.

I don't have anything against fish. I like fish, especially extra crunchy and fresh salmon in a light dill sauce.

Gill sat by the kitchen sink for several days. The rumor that I chanted, "Jump, jump!" is partially true. The rumor that I was going to flick on the disposal is completely false. Mostly. The only time I even thought about it was when Gill's water began to smell like rotten eggs, which is to say, every day about 6 p.m.

Opportunity knocked the weekend of the neighborhood garage sale. I took the fish to a neighbor's sale and taped a sign to the jar that said: "Gill Needs a Home. Good with children. Can shake, bark, roll over and in two weeks will probably play dead."

Gill was purchased by a woman also bought three boxes of candles, four vases, seven stems of artificial flowers. She enjoys making centerpieces. I think Gill is going to be very happy.

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Pass the Faith, Please" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.


© 2001, Lori Borgman