Apr 25, 2010

Friday, April 23rd

At 7 pm I went to a Mexican restaurant to meet Matt. I was very early, so I sat at the bar, drinking a margarita and reading The Possessed, by Elif Batuman. Every few pages I'd find a passage I liked so much that I'd stop for a moment and put the book down to just think about how good it was. Like this one, which came after Batuman's explanation of how she ended up spending a summer teaching English in Hungary:

"Today this all strikes me as somehow typical of this way things happen, when you try to follow life. Events and places succeed one another like items on a shopping list. There may be interesting and moving experiences, but one thing is guaranteed: they won't naturally assume the shape of a wonderful book."

During these breaks I noticed that there was a basketball game on, that the woman next to me was wearing an incredibly low cut shirt, and that she could not ever seem to manage to pay attention to basketball—for some reason, she explained to her date, she finds it both mesmerizing and boring. And then I saw the fish. It was in a little round bowl filled with dirty water sitting on top of the soda jets. It wasn't moving and after a while I asked the bartender if maybe the fish was dead. "Oh no," he told me, and then he tapped the glass a few times. Sure enough it fluttered around for a moment before settling back to the bottom again. "We change the water every few days," he said. "He's just depressed."

This made sense to me. It strikes me as slightly barbaric, the way we keep fish in these tiny glass cages that they just circle through, again and again. My Dad tells me this endless circling doesn't bother fish, because they have no memory, but my dad keeps fish. One fish, actually, named Blackie, I think (there used to be two), who is grotesquely large for a goldfish, although you can't quite tell from this picture. He lives in a tank meant for a regular sized fish in my dad's kitchen, with only a piece of obsidian to keep him company. How could this kind of life not make a thing go insane?

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