It's official--my life is run by a fish. Before graduation and the subsequent move to become Nanook of the North, I didn't realize how much I was going to miss Sparky until the day Kip and I started seriously talking about getting a rabbit. Seeing as I've wanted a rabbit since 7th grade when Mr. Heiser brought in his floppy-eared friend named Shakespeare, I should have been more excited. But those floppy ears had lost their charm. A little cotton tail didn't seem so cute. As excited as Kip was, I sat on my bed at school, phone to my ear, staring at Sparky and feeling like Judas at the Last Supper. Should I betray Sparky with a kiss? It'd be a squishy one, but none the less deserved. I was the worst Beta fish owner ever for merely accepting Alaska Airlines' "You have to pay a significant fee to take a tropical fish on board a plane" policy. Could I really put a price on friendship?
Well, technically, yes. The whole reason I'd originally bought Sparky three years ago was because I was stuck at my parents' house in Maryland for the summer with not a friend to my name. So I bought one. I think the price for friendship in this case was about $6.50, but now it was significantly higher.
Inflation. Sheesh. Blame it on the economy, that seems to be fashionable these days.
I was sure my time with Sparky had come to an end. I had even arranged for one of my professors to adopt him. And then I checked my email one morning to find a message from Dad: "I think you should start writing a new blog entry. Title it 'Sparky Moves to Alaska'. Tell everyone it was sponsored by Dad...." My heart leapt, did somersaults, started a ticker tape parade, and then settled on doing a nice jig within my chest cavity. Huzzah! Sparky could come with me to Alaska! I wouldn't be overreacting in the slightest if I admitted that it was one of the top 10 happiest days of my life thus far.
And I've had some happy days.
We put Sparky in a plastic container and a Ziploc bag, via Alaska Air and TSA requirements. A rogue pebble slipped in from his tank while I was pouring him into the container, but it all turned out to be for the better considering the fact that every time Kip or I checked in on him during the flight, he was cuddling with the pebble. Hey, everyone needs a security blanket!
Sparky had a grand time traveling. He met Tom, the Alaska Airlines desk clerk, and also the nice young man at TSA stationed by the metal detector who lifted him up to eye level before raising an eyebrow at me. I, the grand college graduate cum laude, could think of nothing more insightful to say than, "His name is Sparky."
His eyebrow raised even higher. "Cute." He looked to the attendant at the X-ray machine, "Sparky here needs a hand check!"
I don't think I'd ever heard so much laugher in an airport security line.
Sparky was probed and fish-handled by a very unamused looking TSA agent. I didn't think it was possible for a fish to glare, but suffice it to say...it's possible. All things considered, he behaved quite well and was declared to be non-toxic. Phew. I gave a thumbs-up to Mom and Dad, who were stationed on the other side of security just in case Sparky was denied. He was on his way! We waited on the bench by security while Kip retrieved his laptop and put his shoes back on. Alaska or bust!
I settled for a vegetarian egg roll, much to his delight.
And now, almost a week later, I sit in the living room typing this entry while Sparky is swimming lazily around his new and improved Alaskan tank on my bedside table down the hall. He seems to be adjusting rather well, all things considered. I think Kasey put words to him best, "I AM A TROPICAL FISH, I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR ALASKA!!!!" And he hasn't even seen a salmon yet...but that's an adventure for another day.