July 15, 2024
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July 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

My kids have three goldfish, which is way more goldfish than my wife originally wanted. And we don’t keep them in the same bowl. We keep them in two different bowls, right next to each other, because they belong to two different kids, and the kids don’t want their fish sharing a bowl. Like it matters whose fish is whose. Like when the kids get married, they’re going to leave with their fish. Or bring them to yeshiva. And these are kids who share a bedroom.

The fish are named Goldstein, Goldberg and Schwartz. Schwartz is the black one. Goldstein has his own place, while Goldberg and Schwartz are roommates.

And yes, we call our fish by last names, because our kids won them in school, and everyone in school is called by last names. And how could we give them first names anyway? We don’t know what gender they are! You know how many fish there are named Goldie? My guess is about half of them spend their entire lives telling the other fish, “No, I’m a boy. Yes, there are boys named Goldie.” And in the meantime, I wonder how many female goldfish are going around saying, “No, no, Fishel is totally a girl’s name.”

You might say that Goldstein gets lonely in his own bowl, but I’m not sure. The other two share a bowl and I never see them acknowledge each other. It’s not like they nod as they pass by. The biggest acknowledgement of each other, I think, is that I’ve never actually witnessed them colliding. Maybe they do that after lights out; I don’t know.

But in general, fish don’t really acknowledge each other. One time my kids pointed out that Schwartz was floating at the top of the bowl, on his side, and Goldberg seemed fine with it. He was just swimming around, maybe keeping his distance.

And anyway, Schwartz wasn’t dead. Every time our fingers came near it to poke it, he suddenly moved: “I’m not dead! Don’t flush me!” So I changed the water, and the next day he was fine, but all through this, Goldberg didn’t even care. You’d think he would’ve been at Schwartz’s bedside or something. Maybe helping him write out a will.

“Ok, so who gets your rocks?”

“You do.”

Though for all I know, maybe those two seriously don’t get along. Like the first day, Goldberg said something without thinking, and now Schwartz thinks he’s a weirdo.

It would actually be interesting to get into the heads of our fish. I wonder if they keep little diaries. Maybe for the next guy who lives in the bowl. So he knows.

– My roommate is so annoying. We don’t agree on anything. I think I’m going to basically avoid him.

– Annoying roommate says he wants to start a school. Just me and him. Says I should call him Goldberg.

– I have to sleep with one eye open with this guy.

– So apparently the world is round. I explored the whole thing. Goldberg owes me five rocks.

– I’m pretty sure I’ve tasted every rock in this place. They all taste pretty much the same. Where’s the food, though?

– How do we get food? Should we, like, plant crops in the gravel?

– Okay, we got a plant. It’s huge. How are we supposed to water this thing?

– Goldberg thinks life exists outside this bowl. I think he’s crazy.

– Is there a way out of here? Maybe I can dig a tunnel under the gravel.

– It’s weird. He nods every time he passes me, like he’s surprised to see me.

– In general, food seems to come from shamayim about once a day, except Shabbos. Mostly in the form of flakes. Is it manna?

– Roommate doesn’t take his share of the responsibilities. I feel like I have to taste all the rocks around here. “Don’t you do anything?” And he’s like, “Well, I tasted that rock you have in your mouth about five minutes ago.”

– I think we’re killing the plant. There’s such a thing as overwatering, right?

– Okay, I worked it out: When you die, a big hand comes down from shamayim with a net and takes you to a better place. Or a worse place; I don’t know. I hear water running.

– Speaking of freeloaders, I have some other roommates: There are these Lego guys that don’t say anything. I don’t like them either. They’re creepy. They kind of just float there, smiling.

– I just found leftovers in the gravel!

– Nope; that was more gravel.

– I’m worried about the environment. Goldberg thinks I’m crazy, but the water is definitely getting murkier.

– And I can’t seem to get rid of this fish smell.

– Okay, we had a meeting and it’s official: We’re going around the plant counter-clockwise today! This is gonna be awesome!

– Yeah, hi. Nice to see you.

– Goldberg thinks we have a neighbor with a castle. Right.

– The water is getting pretty disgusting, and Goldberg doesn’t seem to care. He doesn’t either care about the bathroom spot, he never helps me clean the rocks… And he never helps me dig my tunnel.

– Ok, so now this net has come down from shamayim, and it’s chasing me around. I’m not dead! Baruch Hashem, I keep outsmarting it. It’ll never get me out of this filthy bowl. It has to give up some time.

– Great. Now I’m in a smaller bowl. With Goldberg.

– Yeah, nice to see you.

– And now I’m in a bigger bowl. Wait… Is this the same bowl as before? The plant looks familiar, but the water is clear. Oh my goodness, the whole world is clean! Do we have a cleaning lady? What’s this going to cost us? Is Goldberg even going to chip in?

– Um… What happened to my leftovers? Great. The cleaning lady threw them out.

By Mordechai Schmutter

 Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and Aish.com, among others. He also has five books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].


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