It was the point at which Alice took a cold, dead stick insect called Steve to the gym that I realised we needed a pet. It was also the point at which Frankie drew a family portrait and included a small millipede called John that I realised we needed a pet. And so, I declared, as Paul accidentally threw Steve away (on account of him being dead), and Alice sobbed her small heart out (despite it being her that had killed him, by over-enthusiastically tucking Steve into a Barbie bed), we shall get a pet!
We’ve been down this road before. The day Paul and I got married, seven years ago, my dad gave us a dog that he’d got from a man in the pub. And oh, what a dog it was – grey and tangled and surly and yappy, with a glorious, weeping tumour on the top of his head and a propensity to cock his leg and piss on the school mums. Barry the Frank, he was called, and BY GOD he was repulsive, prone to holding your gaze unblinkingly as he shat at your feet. I was not sorry to see Barry the Frank go.
Seven years is a long time between pets and so, this morning, we set out to get a PET. A fish, specifically. IN MY FAIRLY LIMITED EXPERIENCE, fish are quite easy to obtain. You pay, like, 50 cents, and you get a fish in a small plastic bag, which you then tip into a small round, glass bowl and BISH BASH BOSH, a pet you have.
Well, my friends, times have fucking changed since I last won (and killed) a goldfish. For starters, you can’t get a fucking BOWL. They’re all fucking TANKS, with pumps and bridges and chandeliers and shit, and they’re PRICEY. The cheapest tank we could find was, like, $67, which was approximately $57 more than we’d anticipated paying for a goldfish bowl. But, whatever, it was a small price to pay for our children’s happy little faces as they patted their small new fish. EXCEPT, the cheapest tank available could only accommodate ONE goldfish, and we have THREE children, and even then, the pet-shop lady warned us that our singular goldfish would quickly outgrow the tank, and would need to be rehomed within weeks.
“You could have a few of those,” she said, pointing at some sad bait-like creatures, which my children categorically refused to even LOOK AT, because they weren’t gold with big bobbly eyes. And suddenly, as I looked at the goldfish with big bobbly eyes, I realised that I probably wouldn’t be able to keep this thing alive, on account of not having the time or the inclination to change its filter and sweep up its small goldfish turds. I also realised it would be me who’d find it floating the wrong way up at 5.30 in the morning, and it would be me forced to scoop it out with my best sieve and flush it down the toilet.
I do not have time for that shit.
And so, we left without a goldfish. We left with tears, but no goldfish. We left with promises of as many Little Live Pets as our children could carry, but not goldfish. THANK FUCK THERE WERE NO GOLDFISH.
“We can have one of Callum’s DOGS!” Paul exclaimed, as he dragged our crying children out of the pet shop. The children stopped dead. A dog, you say? We can have a DOG?
We can’t have a dog. We have a son with allergies to anything with a pulse, so a dog is OUT.
“I’m pretty sure this dog is hypoallergenic!” Paul said, scrolling through his Facebook feed to find a picture of Callum’s currently pregnant shar-pei.
“Nawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww,” we all melted, seeing the picture of Callum’s currently pregnant shar-pei.
“Can we have it today?” the children asked.
“We have to wait for Callum’s dog to have her babies.”
“WHEN WILL SHE LAY THEM? WILL SHE LAY THEM TODAY?”
“I WANT HER TO LAY THEM TODAY.”
And so on and so forth, until Paul said that yes! Yes! Callum’s dog would undoubtedly lay her baby dogs TODAY.
It’s now 4 in the afternoon. Paul told the kids about Callum’s dog at 9 this morning. They have been asking whether Callum’s dog has laid its babies for seven solid hours now. It’s becoming tiresome.
Also, I googled, and shar-pei’s are not hypoallergenic, and you have to spend time rinsing out their folds, which is grosser than scooping up a dead goldfish with a sieve, so fuck that.
Kids need pets, yes; you’ll have no argument from me on that front. But mumma has better things to do than rinsing out folds and administering epi-pens, so there’s that, too.
Come home, Steve! And you too, John! Your bed is ready!