Hey, you drank my pet

It is funny how some memories stick with you. One thing I will never forget, and one that still makes me laugh is the time my mom ended up drinking my newest pet. Gotcha now I bet. You seen the headline, the opening line, how could you not read a story that tells you about someone’s mother drinking their pet?

This all happened one very hot afternoon, sometime in the seventies.  Mom had recently purchased the latest in appliances, the wringer washer. Do you remember the wringer washer? With it’s two wheels that were meant for wringing out clothes, but somehow managed to crack fingers of curious little boys? Thankfully, I was not one of those boys, but I bet after I caused mom to drink my pet, she would have received some satisfaction in seeing me at least almost crack my fingers…Naw, my mom is not like that, she probably forgave me soon after I stopped crying, and then laughing.

Anyway, back to the story, which actually happened. I was in Grade three at the time, and attending the Annex school. The Annex school was a school quite unlike anything I had ever experienced. The school, which was built by the Americans while they occupied our town for a while back in the fifties, was later signed over to the town, and used as a temporary school for both Catholic and Anglican students while their perspective buildings were being repaired and updated. Behind the school ran a small stream, that was filled with tiny fishes. These fishes were known as pinfish. The water in this stream was anything but drinkable, probably due to the fact that the stream was slow moving and filled with green algae.

This was the last day of school for the year. A hot, sunny day where it was way too warm to wear a coat, and one that caused me to run to the stream just before class, and soak my feet. While at the stream, I noticed an unusually large number of pinfish in the stream, and it gave me an idea. Using an old Seven-Up can I had found, I gathered as many pinfish as I could, along with a generous supply of green slime for them to eat. I filled the can with the warm water that flowed in the stream, and brought the can into the school. I carefully placed the can in my locker, making sure not to spill any of the water. When school was out, I anxiously carried my can of fish home with me on the bus, bragging to my friends about my new summer project, which was to build my own aquarium.

With the sound of water jiggling in the can, I found that I really needed to pee, so when the school bus finally reached my stop, I anxiously ran into the house to use the bathroom. When I got into the house, I noticed my mom washing clothes with her new washer. She looked very warm and tired, but I did not have time to talk. I ran to the bathroom, leaving my can of fish on the counter next to my mom.

I was just beginning to find relief when I heard it. It was perhaps the loudest scream I ever heard, followed by the loudest episode of vomiting I ever heard. My mom yelled that she was going to kill me. Imagine a mom saying that to her son. What kind of mom did I have? When I went into the kitchen, I seen what she was screaming about.

There she was, leaning over a pail in the porch, sick as a dog. I asked her what happened, and at the same time, I picked up my can of fish. The can seemed a whole lot lighter, and I was completely surprised to discover that all the fish were gone. My mom said that she was so warm and thirsty, that when she seen my can of pop, she thought she would take a drink. I bet you can figure out the rest. If not, imagine a very tired person, exhausted from the heat, and suddenly discovering what could have been a refreshing drink of Seven-Up. Imagine her taking a big gulp of the soft drink, only to discover that what she drank was green slimy, warm water and a healthy supply of tiny fish that were probably dead from sitting in the hot can all day. Imagine how sick she was.

At the tender and innocent age of seven, I did not realize any of this. What I did realize was that my plans of building an aquarium were all but ruined. I also realized that I would never get a chance to see my new pets swimming in that aquarium. What I did not realize was that screaming at my mom for drinking my fish was not the smartest thing for a kid to do, and if that wasn’t enough, for some reason, I soon found myself laughing at the whole thing. Not a great tactic to then try to apologize, all the time laughing while doing so.

I don’t think mom ever got over this. It is some 40 years afterward, and she still gets angry when I bring it up.  I believe part of the problem is that I cannot talk about this incident without laughing, especially when she still gets sick talking about it.

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