Sunday, September 2, 2012
From the beginning, Mr. Chicken was a cantankerous fish, bridging no rival for food or turf, but his special brand of gritty determinism would grow on us before long. I don't know if he led a particularly happy life, or if he had any hopes or dreams beyond the panes of his transparent cage. I'm not even sure what kind of fish he was, but I do know this: Mr. Chicken was a survivor. I could recount a dozen tales of his toughness, but one that stands out is a tank cleaning in the winter of '11. On that January day, our bottom feeder slipped into the kitchen sink, through the mouth of the drain and into the teeth of the garbage disposal--mercifully disengaged. For a hectic five minutes, Mr. Chicken flopped while my desperate but inept fingers attempted to rescue him from a slow and torturous death. Only when he came to rest, on the verge of asphyxiation, was I able pluck him from oblivion and spirit him, gills swollen, to the more hospitable confines of recycled, oxygenated water. He was shaken but alive, and an unspoken bond was forged between us. We were no longer master and pet. We were brothers. From that moment on, we knew: I had his back, and he had mine. Alas that I could not save him once more.
Aside from danger, Mr. Chicken enjoyed nestling into the holes in his favorite driftwood and devouring the funny-smelling flakes that occasionally rained down on his habitat.
Mr. Chicken was preceded in death by his spouse, Mrs. Chicken (née McDougald). He leaves behind no known progeny.
A brief memorial was held toilet-side with friends and family gathered.