Used to have a strict no-pet rule around my house. No cats, no dogs, no gerbils, no fish.
But I was always a sucker for a good bet. Like the day daughter Nicole begged and pleaded and whined and cried about adopting one of the kittens the McKees had discovered in their garage on Walker Lane.
After enduring "Please, Dad, please" for about the 97th time, I gave in when her 10-year-old mind came up with a new gambit. "Can I have a kitten if I score a goal in tomorrow's soccer game?"
Sure, I reasoned. At this point in her soccer career, she was about as likely to play goalie in the World Cup as she was to score a goal in the rec league.
We don't need Paul Harvey for the rest of the story, do we? Of course she scored a goal. Off her left foot, over the goalie's right hand. Nothing but net.
Sad thing is, I should have learned from an earlier goldfish gambit she pulled on me.
In a moment of weakness at the fair, I had given her a few bucks to waste on the midway. Of course, she decided she wanted to try and win a goldfish.
And of course, I knew she didn't have the arm or the direction gene to toss that ping pong ball into one of the bowls of water harboring a goldfish.
Paul Harvey be damned if she didn't fling that ping pong ball, bounce it off one of the tent posts and watch it settle cleanly into a glass fish bowl.
The resident carnie retrieved the bowl, dumped water, fish and all into a plastic bag, tied it off and handed it to Nicole.
A couple hours later, on our way home from the fairgrounds, she reached the plastic bag over the front seat of the car and said, "Look, my goldfish is upside down."
Of course he was. He was also deader than a doornail. Didn't even make it five miles out of the fairgrounds til he was a goner.
Well, I had seen this sitcom before. It was my Cosby-like fatherly duty to go to Walmart, buy another goldfish, and make the switch. And I gladly did despite it being 10 o'clock and me fighting sleep.
Back at home that goldfish was plopped into the bowl without detection. "Look," I exclaimed, "your fish woke up. He's swimming!"
Delighted, she took bowl and all into the bedroom and fell asleep. In the morning, of course, we had another floater.
None of that has really bothered me all that much over the years -- until now.
Now we've learned that two goldfish -- named Shaggy and Daphne after "Scooby Doo" character, no less -- have managed to survive 134 days without food or fresh water or human contact.
Shaggy and Daphne were in a 26-gallon tank in a downtown home in Christchurch, New Zealand, which was ravaged by a 6.3-magnitude February earthquake that killed 181 people. And get this, without electricity, the tank filter was rendered incapable of pumping in fresh oxygen over that time.
Yet Shaggy and Daphne survived on their own for more than four months.
Experts suggest the goldfish survived by eating algae growing on the rocks and walls of the tank. Naturally occurring bacteria was credited with helping keep the water clean enough to sustain life.
That was the sanitized version.
Paul Harvey would have to become Vincent Price for the rest of this story. It's a fishy as the Donner Party.
Seems there were four other fish -- no doubt named Scooby, Fred, Velma and Scrappy Doo -- in the tank before the quake.
There was no sign of three of them 134 days later. Remains of a fourth were said floating in the tank.
You really need the rest of the story ... ?