Asian Girl Problem #40: Don’t Pet the Fish

They say you can tell a lot about a person from the way s/he treats animals. While my father’s family adores all fluffy creatures we share this world with, my mother’s family sees them as rabies-transmitting, needy, “white people” problems. Before the 80s, no one in China would own a pet, unless you had livestock in the country.

Some Chinese women carry umbrellas when they take walks to shield them from the sun. My mother does to beat off any dogs that get close. She especially hates them because of how friendly/aggressive and prevalent they are in the Midwest, where no one uses a leash and no front yard is immune to impromptu games of fetch.

Personally, I adore dogs because my personality is more catlike, and opposites attract. As a child, when I met a friendly dog, we’d spend hours playing and I’d even forget about dinner, which was highly uncharacteristic of me. As I grew older and we moved away from dog-land, I met them less and less. And here I am now, deathly allergic to anything furry–dogs, cats, pet owners, shag carpeting…

The one “pet” we always seem to have are fish. It started when I was six, with pricey, tropical fish that needed very specific water temperatures and pH levels. My parents were happy to oblige, if it meant I’d stop yapping about getting a dog. I was not at all impressed, but I kept an open mind. Every day when I came home from school, I’d feed them and stick my hand in the water, letting them run under my fingers while I touched their ribbony fins. You’re supposed to pet pets.

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Less than a week later, all the pretty ones were dead. And since then we’ve only owned those 5/$1 goldfish, other than the one time I found a beta fish in its tank in the gutter outside my house. The goldfish don’t need air or food more than once a week, and they’re perfectly happy. That’s the thing about fish–you love them too much and they die. And when you die it’s not very sad. Moral: Other than Nemo, no fish are capable of teaching kids life lessons.

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2 thoughts on “Asian Girl Problem #40: Don’t Pet the Fish

  1. I’ve heard people can develop somewhat affectionate relationships with koi.. never happened with me. I wonder if your mom could develop a late life thing with a dog like my mom did. I never thought she’d ever be as affectionate as she is today.

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