Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Rest of the Goldfish Story

A few days ago I posted a cryptic apology to my older sister for telling our mother that J was the one who sucked up the goldfish up with the vacuum. To my surprise, multiple people have asked for details on the goldfish story.

You are going to be so disappointed, because the actual event was neither interesting nor funny, but that has never stopped me from telling stories in the past, so what happened was this:

We did not often have company at Shady Oaks, living waaaaay out in the country as we did, but someone had been invited to supper. And because many hands make light work, my mother assigned my sister to vacuum while I dusted. I've been trying to reconstruct how old each of us must have been, and I'm carbon-dating the event by the names of our goldfish, which were Kennedy and Nixon. (In spite of our Republican leanings, the short and non-attractive one was Nixon, and the sleek and beautiful one was Kennedy.)  That election was in 1960, so we must have been 7 and 6 years old at the time, with two younger siblings.

I was a dutiful worker bee, so I dusted industriously. Sister J, on the other hand, was creative and curious. (You see where this is going, right?)

At some point, the thought moved into J's consciousness: "I wonder what would happen if I stuck the vacuum tube into the fishbowl?" This, friends, is the seed of genius. I mean, I'm sure Galileo had a younger brother who was dusting while Galileo was thinking "I wonder what would happen if I put this curved glass lens into a tube and went outside at night and looked up at...oh, wow! Look at those stars!" Do we remember the name of the younger brother? We do not.

Anyway, J stuck the wand of the (running) vacuum cleaner into the fishbowl, just for a split second. The fish were unharmed, if startled, and J went back to her carpet cleaning. Not long after, though, the vacuum began to make some odd noises. From the kitchen our mother suggested that maybe the dirt bag needed to be emptied--"I'll do that for you!" she called innocently.

Mom unlatched the cannister and pulled out the cloth dirt bag--which was a solid block of mud, followed by a gush of water. As it turns out, mothers do not appreciate the creative process nearly as much as you would think they should. I don't remember the exact consequences but I do remember being glad I was the one holding the dustcloth instead of the vacuum cleaner hose.

And now you know why I was apologizing to J for telling Mom that she was the one who tried to suck up the goldfish with the vacuum cleaner.


  1. Surprisingly accurate except for the Galileo comparison. I was really trying to invent the wet vac which, at that point in the dark ages, was still just fantasy. We couldabeenmillionaires. But no.

  2. "Surprisingly" accurate? Wow, you do know me. And if you'd cut me in on those wet vac royalties, I might have kept my mouth shut. But no. Love you, J!