First of all, yes, my goldfish is handicapped. I’m sure I’m supposed to be all politically correct about it and call him differently abled, especially when you compare him to my typical friends, but my typical friends are human and are slightly more abled than my goldfish. If we compared my fish to other goldfish, are any of them actually abled in the first place? What do they do, exactly?
Let me describe the scope of my fish’s handicap. First, he swims upside down. That would be a cool trick if he was doing it on purpose, but he’s not. He gets flipped over due to something wrong with his equilibrium and he can’t turn back over, so he just keeps going. He also has one eyeball that exploded, so one eye is normal, and the other eye is all pupil. Finally, something is wrong with his swim bladder (the thing that helps fish go up and down in the water and just hang out there), so he can only stay at the surface, which means he can’t get to the food that drifts down to his fish tank gravel.
I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I’ve checked…he’s still alive.
Here’s how we have to accommodate my fish’s handicaps. First, we don’t really care about the eyeball thing except if he turns the other way and we have to look at it. Then we just stop looking at him. But the upside down thing, I have this wooden spoon next to the tank and I just reach in and flip him over. As for the swimming down part, I just make sure to feed him often enough that he can reach food at the top of the tank.
But this little guy is resilient and resourceful. He’s learned to keep breathing and not panic when he’s on his back. He’s learned to fight his way down towards the bottom of the tank by swimming as hard as he can and then wedging himself between his little resin bridge decoration and the side of the tank so he can hang out down there. He’s even learned (get this) to tell me when he’s hungry…if he’s not hungry when I walk past his tank he just maintains and does his fishy thing, but if he’s hungry, he’ll do this weird cross between wiggling his body and having a seizure. I swear it looks a lot like a dog wagging its tail.
So already this fish has taught himself to adapt, to overcome, and to communicate in his own way. He’d be a fucking Mensa member, if they’d allow goldfish (the ADA laws are surprisingly vague here). And this is a good thing because I’m not willing to watch over his tank like a new mom afraid of crib death. I figure he’s made it this far with my half-assed attempts at intervention, so I’ve probably just Darwinized the snot out of him. Now we need to find him a role in life. With his current skillset, there’s not a lot open to him, but with his proven record of superior intelligence, I’m thinking a government job is in his future. I recommend Chairman of the Fed, or Speaker of the House.