Monday, August 1, 2011

The Goldfish Ambush

I was a well-behaved and respectful little girl. I never got into trouble at school (because I never got caught), never started a fight (but never backed down from one), never talked back to grown-ups (I only did in my head), never misbehaved (out in the open) and never did anything that would have my parents throwing their arms up in the air, declaring “What are we going to do with her?” (until my teenage years). For the most part, this goody-two-shoes behaviour came from the upbringing I received from my wonderful, upstanding parents. But it was also a result of my painfully shy nature, which caused me to be very intimidated by authority and adults in general. The last thing on earth I wanted was to draw attention to myself, particularly the negative type.

Having said that, I was never one to be mischievous out in the open, or to act so impulsively that getting caught was inevitable; that would have been the younger of my two older brothers whose curiosity always got the better of him. I always went along for the ride when he got into those moods because we were extremely close and spent so much time together, but since I was more of an observer than a true participant, I barely ever got into trouble. More often than not, I received a slap on the wrist for the misdemeanors that my fun-loving, extremely-energetic and overly-curious brother initiated.

But I wasn’t above monkey business, and I was certainly no less curious than he was; I was just more subtle about satisfying my curiosity. And unlike my brother whose misdemeanors were downright dangerous at times – like the time he stuck a hairpin into a socket because he just had to know what electricity felt like, and ended up causing a temporary power blackout in our home (thankfully, he didn’t injure himself) – my offenses were sillier than anything else; downright weird, if you may.

And one of the silliest things I ever did as a young child, on my own, without my mischievous brother leading the way, was to ambush a large goldfish in an aquarium that belonged to my mother’s sister. Every time I would go and visit her, I would stare into the tank completely fascinated by this fish’s size. I’d never seen a goldfish that big and I wondered what it would feel like if I touched it. Would it be smooth or slimy? Would its body be warm or cold? Would it be heavy or light? I wondered about this every time we visited my aunt.

Well, I finally got my answer when I slept over one night at her house. When I woke up in the morning, I planned my strategy. Making sure that my aunt was preoccupied in the kitchen and I was safe from getting caught, I lifted the lid of the aquarium and slid my hand into the water. At first the fish was startled, but as soon as the initial shock wore off he just went about his business of swimming back and forth. It didn’t take long before he let down his guard and swam around my hand - and that’s when I closed my fist around him, trapping him! As was expected, he went absolutely berserk, squirming wildly, tail thrashing until I could no longer hold onto him. He literally slipped out of my fingers. But during the few seconds that I held him, my curiosity was satisfied. He was slimy and cold. And he hardly weighed anything.

I don’t think I ever told anyone about this when I was a child; not even my mischief-loving brother who would have wanted to ambush the goldfish, too, as soon as he got the chance. I must have come to the conclusion at one point that some stories are better left untold; stories that are so silly they border on stupid. It wasn’t until my older years that I began sharing these types of childhood experiences, mostly with my children who enjoy hearing about these types of stories. After all, it’s kind of fun to hear about asinine things your parents did as children, isn’t it?

What silly thing did you do as a child?

5 comments:

  1. Now this was funny.... i laughed my heart out. Nice article... loved it.

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  2. The worst thing I did as a child was trying to build a model rocket that moved along the ground, something akin to a rocket car. When I launched the rocket, it went haywire and hit my father's company car, putting a small dent in the door. I quickly put everything away and whistled innocently to myself as if nothing ever happened. I did not tell my father that story until after I had moved out! lol

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  3. What a great story, Martha! I don't think it was silly at all for you to satisfy your curiosity that way---I would have done the same. Like you, I was an EXTREMELY curious child and got into trouble mostly from trying to satisfy my curiosity. I still remember when I was three years old and heard my mother tell my siblings to never, ever turn the little lock on the doorknob of our second story bathroom door. I wondered what would happen if I turned it, so I did and then waited to see what would happen. Pretty soon, my sister came along and closed the bathroom door from the outside which of course locked the door so that no one could get in, and my father ended up having to go up a ladder through the second-story window to unlock the door. He was very angry, and it was pretty clear who the culprit was because I cried and cried. I always suffered terrible guilt when I did something wrong, haha.

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  4. Hmmmm most of my escapades were eclipsed by those of my little brother who was into everything, twice. I don't recall anything that made it into the family lore - I was a bright, precocious child who started reading at 3 and was a bit of a smart ass. My brother contributed the stories about the time he brought the headless snake home, and the time he peed in the flour bin, and the time he stuffed his mouth with cigarette butts, and... on and on. :)

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  5. @Hellas Frappe: Glad you enjoyed it :)

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    @WebDebris: That is hilarious! Your father must have been quite surprised when you told him.

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    @Beth: That is so funny, Beth. It's something I would have done, too. My curiosity would have gotten the better of me!

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    @Tatiana: Ha ha...your brother sounds a lot like mine. These are funny family stories!

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