Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jews and Garlic

Not the best picture, but this bugger just won't hold still for the camera.

This is clearly a Jewish fish, and a camera-shy Jewish fish at that, no interest in film, photography, nothing. But I'm thinking his roots go back to the Old Country.

People from the Old Country are somewhat obsessed with garlic, at least some of the Jews I know.

Those of you who know my father, for example, an immigrant from Poland, know that as a younger man, if he couldn't sleep, he topped a nice piece of rye bread and butter with crushed fresh garlic. This made his night.

That or a chunk of hard salami from Romanian.


My son-in-law, an avid aquarist, couldn't stand that I emotionally coerced FD to dig out a chunk of our home, one that happened to be a supportive beam, to install a 55 gallon tank in my living room. All for my Niger Trigger, the infamous Blue. Blue had the run of the 55 gallon tank, and I felt he needed it. Indeed, he needed more room to swim, hence the need for the tank. Fish gotta' swim, birds gotta' fly. You know the song.

I thought it was okay if he lived alone. He isn't all that friendly a fish, although he's changing. We can talk about that another time.

Anyway, annoyed by this selfish use of the pool, Y surprised me with three new fish for what would ultimately become the aggressive tank.

So the tank housed four fish:
(1) Blue
(2) the dog puffer (ugly)
(3) a porcupine puffer--nice blue eyes, but aside from these, also ugly, and
(4) a pretty little yellow tang who went the way most of most Tangs; he died.

Y armed me with enough vitamins for the fish to cure a sailor's scurvy.

If a person adds these liquid vitamins to fish food, the colors of the fish become more vibrant, he tells me.

How gray can become more vibrant, for the puffers are gray, I'm still not sure. But I said okay.

The most important additive that he got me, a true color enhancer, is surely the garlic. Add liquid garlic (they call it Garlic Extreme) to your fish food, and your fish will be extraordinarily healthy, perhaps never have colon cancer or any other maladies of the sea.

A good soldier, I follow this advice and add garlic to the frozen fish food, and Zoey, too, the prenatal vitamin of the aquarium world. I do this until I run out of the garlic and vitamins, and quite honestly, when I run out, after a while, Blue's color fades.

Having recently set up a little ten gallon tank at the office I decide, Today is the day!
It is time to buy a new fish, and as long as I am at the store, to buy vitamins and, you know, garlic. Everything but the rye.

Wouldn't you know, there at Living Sea, waving at me, is Blellow!

Blellow is a Bi-color Angle, half navy, half yellow. The story on Blellow is that as D and C, my local married son and daughter-i-l, emphasis on the daughter, while waiting for the live rock in their new tank to do whatever it is that live rock does, de-nitrogenate or whatever, brought over the original Blellow to live at our house in our "other" tank. The peaceful fish tank. Blellow would swim with the four Chromies and our tiny Watchman Gobi.

The little yellow Watchman, by the way, is basically all any tank needs to feel protected, even if he is a very shy fish. A half inch long on arrival, he's doubled in size, if not girth, which is about a quarter of an inch, if that.

Anyway, one day the kids retrieved him having determined that their live rock had stopped exuding deathly nitrogen. They collected their belongings from the friendly tank, waved to Blue in the tank full of fish needing anger management, and took Blellow home.

Sure, it hurt to see him go, but what could I do? Grieve it and leave it, is all. On Mother's Day, not a Jewish holiday especially, but one that obviously should be, we could have made it up, come on, on Mother's Day the kids gave me a new fish to take away the sting of losing Blellow. They bought me a Coral Beauty, a fish everyone says will die.

And yet, Cori thrives, poo, poo, poo, kineyenharah*, gets more beautiful every day.

Thus when Blellow the Second shouted out at me from his tank at Living Sea today, there was no question in my mind that this was bashert.** It was meant to be that I should buy him and take him to the office, where my empty tank waited his arrival with baited breath.

I bought some blue-leg crabs, too. The guy at the store, I have to say this, I'm sorry, was kind of rude. I would say, "Can you show me the blue-leg crabs?"

And he would walk away.

I would follow after him, hoping he is leading me to the tank with these shrutzim (insects, no time to rhyme right now). Rushing after him, he points to the tank with these things and turns to diddle with something in another tank.

I'll be honest. I'm not very familiar with crabs. I am buying them because they are fifteen for ten dollars, and fifteen anything for ten dollars says to me, Buy These.

Either he's in a real hurry or has some kind of power trip he's working out, but it grieves him to take me seriously. Here I am, buying a lot of stuff, and he's acting like he's doing me a huge favor. He silently bags the crabs, it feels to me with an attitude, then bags Blellow and points me to the vitamins. I'm supposed to know to follow him to the checkout where he calls for reinforcements and hurries back to his real job, not sure what this is. Before leaving for his real job he bids me a good day, his first friendly sentence.

And it's been good! The guy is a tzaddik,*** surely gave me a blessing. That or it's always good when you have a fish in the room with you.

But Blellow Two wouldn't eat at the office. I set him free in the tank, before seeing patients, added some flake, but he wouldn't eat. He refused the shrimp flakes, took one gulp and spit it out.

Uh, oh. I got worried. Any Jewish mother would.

Then I remembered the garlic. I soaked the other type of flakes, some lame flakes you feed fresh water fish, in garlic and a little zoey (other vitamins), waited a few seconds, and pinched them into the water.

Behold! Blellow loves the flakes soaked in garlic!

Clearly a landsman.

Flying High

*If you say this, poo, poo, poo, kineyenharah, no harm will come to you. If you don't, for sure it will. The last word rhymes with gin-I-in-whore-ahhh. If this is the only Yiddish you know, you'll get by.

**bashert, rhymes with ma-tear-t means "meant to be"

***tzaddik, rhymes with tzaddik, means "holy man."

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