Being Koi

Note: I wrote this a few years ago, before I began posting to this blog. Stumbled upon it today, it cracked me up, and I decided it was worth a repost. Hope it makes you smile.

So, my Dad and Marge have a little “cee-ment” pond in their backyard. Literally, cement, but since they are in a high rent district, they refer to it as a “water feature.” Fancy! And, they keep fancy fish in it. Mostly fancy, large goldfish, but also some Koi. Are these the same thing? Turns out I am only a fish expert when it comes to sushi and tuna in a can. And trout, caught down by the old mill stream, but that’s another story for another day.
We all love their little pond. At family gatherings we will often spend time admiring it. It has little lily pads, it’s painted blue (like the deep blue sea, see?), and sometimes favored family members are allowed to sprinkle the fish food flakes in.
I do not live in a high rent district. I live in the ‘hood. The mean streets. The asphalt jungle. Okay, I’m full of shit, I live squarely in a nice suburb, but it’s still a little more diverse, and a little less “contained” than the Palisades, home of Bob, Marge, and the pond. And as I was tooling about my neighborhood one morning, I noticed a house that had a sign in front. And the sign said, “Koi for sale”. But wait, there’s more. On the other side of the yard, there was another sign that read, “funnel cakes for sale.”
Let’s take a moment here. Sometimes when I feel sad, and discouraged by life’s knocks, I only need to think of the splendour of the world that allows illicit Koi and funnel cakes to be sold. It really is a magical land of wonder, and we are just living in it!
Fast forward. Dad comes out to the Valley, and we head over to the koi/funnel cake house. There’s a guy sitting in the front yard. A couple of buckets by his side, and an old, scraggly bulldog at his feet. Not to disparage, but the house seems shabbier than the street view had revealed. I’m now a little nervous that I have dragged my sweet, elderly papa into this “fishy” adventure. [editor’s note, Bob Gold is a fine man, but sweet and elderly might be construed as poetic license. More like canny, smart and spry as hell.]
So Dad and Koi man are now chatting it up, and somehow Koi man is asking Dad for advice on how to start running. Did I mention the old man had just come from a race and was still wearing his medal? The Koi conversation starts to hone into transactional state, and Koi guy mentions he has more koi “in the back.”
Now I’m more nervous. In the back? Are we about to be koi-napped, kept alive with funnel cakes? But Dad willingly follows Koi man, and I timidly slink behind them. And walk into what looks like a massive Koi operation. They have literally transformed their in-ground swimming pool into the world’s largest koi bowl. There are pipes running over it, the water is murky green, and it is filled with hundreds, possibly thousands, of beautiful, fancy, beautiful koi.
My Dad asks the price of a single koi and we are told they are over a hundred dollars a fish. Koi man explains that he imports them from Hawaii, and has another koi warehouse somewhere else in L.A. Dad demures that he is not interested in spending anywhere near that on a fish, and the guy beckons us over to a bank of coolers against the wall. He opens one, and we see it is filled with baby koi. $10 a fish. So Dad says for me to pick one out, which I do. Koi man bags our fish, we shake hands, and depart. No funnel cake has exchanged hands, unfortunately. I ask Dad what he is going to name the fish, and when he tells me he doesn’t plan to name it, I suggest “Kathi.” So, Kathi the Koi goes home to the Palisades.
I would love to tell you this is where the story ends, but like most of my stories, there’s a twist. My dad decides he wants another fish and comes out the next weekend. We go back to the house. No Koi man. No funnel cake sign. No old bulldog. The house appears to be abandoned. We peek over into the backyard. Pool has been drained. Did we dream this?
And, within a few weeks, Kathi the Koi had mysteriously “disappeared” from the pond.
The End, for now

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