I once lived in this place called 7 South. There was this pregnant anorexic lady. An elderly woman who got walked by one of the mean Jamaican ladies two times a day. This little boy with tiny clothes. The lady who couldn’t stop pouring her shakes into radiators. A bald Hasidic girl who wore a wig and despite the fact that we all saw each other naked on a regular, she took time out daily to announce the reality of her curly locks. Underneath she looked like an androgynous Mr. Clean.
Having fish for pets is lame. An old girl friend once bought me two beta fish from Pet Smart. I was moving into a new apartment and they were coming with me. The kid at the shop said you can’t put a guy fish in a bowl with a girl fish, he will kill her. You can’t put two guys together, they’ll kill each other. However you can put two girls together, they’ll be fine. Feeling affirmed in our gender entitlement we took our queer fish home, shoved them into a plastic bowl together and within an hour they were filling their gills with excessive air, swimming backwards to gain momentum and murderously ramming into one another. This is pretty much how all lesbian relationships start and end.
If you were wealthy or especially disabled you got your own room. The rest of us slept in this large room shaped like a circle cut in half, beds lined up protruding from the walls adjacent with one another. The true down side to this was that no matter where you turned your head someone else’s eyes met yours. If you wanted to avoid that, your only option was to smother yourself with the pillow.
I named the betas Cagney & Lacey. When they became homicidal in that first hour, I separated them and went out. Upon my return I found Cagney dried up on the dinning room table – suicide. She was survived by Lacey. However, the unfortunate disappearance of Lacey occurred very shortly after that. I came home one day and the bowl was empty. It took me about a week to find her dried up in my underwear draw. Another suicide.
Forms of entertainment included age-inappropriate puzzles with no pieces and the remains of a magazine genocide. So many censored pages had been removed that each issue was left with a gravely weakened binding and no spine.
A few years later my sister bought me two goldfish for Christmas. I don’t know how long I had them but I do know it was short and that I eventually killed them by changing the water and not filtering it, or not waiting long enough for the temperature of the water to achieved its required homeostasis. They died under water, side by side, like that scene with the old people from Titanic.
The few people who worked there sat at a desk behind plexi. In back of them was this huge board, mounted to the ceiling with individually numbered lights. Like the shittiest game of Lite-Brite you’ve ever seen. When something goes wrong, somewhere in the compound, a light flashes, accompanied by a piercing alarm. Then the people who sit behind the plexi, hastily rush up, read the flashing number and run to be of service in the crisis. There’s never a real emergency, it’s usually just a martyr whose consequence is being aggressively out numbered by over-weight bullies directly followed by prolonged isolation and confinement. The alarm went off so often that you lost your reaction to it, the way you do to the telephone when you’re a kid and an adult always gets it.
This morning I was reading about these coral fish that kick it around Australia’s Lizard Island, these female gobies – they develop a marked, social ranking between dominant and subordinate females. Sometimes they form symbiotic relationships with other species. There’s these subordinates that start out as runts and grow really fast. But upon realizing their mass potential and its resemblance to the dominants, they cease. This doesn’t happen to everyone. Not even all the subordinates. These specific gobies simply decide to begin regulating their seefood intake to avoid provoking fights that they are unlikely to win.