We had to do a science fair project, and I was less than thrilled. Somehow, I came up with the hair-brained idea to test the effects of overcrowding in goldfish. Mama and I bought two goldfish bowls. In the first bowl, we placed one happy little fish. In the other one, we placed 25 not-nearly-as-content fish. Then, we watched and waited. The results really were non-existent, because I don’t think I gave the fish long enough to enjoy their time together in the bowl. However, my hypothesis was that the overcrowded fish would start dying and would eat each other. (The reality was, they started stinking and pooping even more.) Now, I have a few observations about this project:
1. Why in the world did I want to do that? I have no idea. I guess it sounded easier than building something or mixing chemicals together.
2. I can’t believe my teacher allowed me to do that. In today’s time, I would probably be arrested for animal cruelty.
On the day of the science fair, I took my fish to school. When I didn’t win the science fair (shocker there, I know…), I told the teacher she could have my fish. I didn’t want them. They smelled bad. So, my teacher, the snake lover, took the fish and put them in a big aquarium. As she put the filter in and air started flowing, the fish started floating to the top of the tank, one at a time. The woman murdered 26 goldfish right in front of the class. (Today, the children would need grief counseling.) I cried. All at once, these fish went from being the victims of my weird science project to being my most valued pets. I was outraged that my teacher had murdered, nay massacred, my beloved fish! With all the drama I could muster in my twelve year old self, I cried and cried. The snake lover was not moved by my tears, and I was told to get back to work. I turned off the tears and got back to work, because I was nothing if not obedient. At lunch that day, we had fish sticks. Oh, the humanity…
When I was in 9th grade, I took biology. I would rather have cut off my right arm and donated it in the name of science than to have endured that class. The fruit flies were bad enough (What, exactly, were we supposed to learn from that??), but the finger-pricking and dissection pushed me right over the edge. Oh, yes, my friend, you read me correctly. Finger pricking. With a needle. Welcome to the late 80s. We were made to prick our own fingers so we could test our blood type. Though I was typically not dramatic and was always obedient, this was one issue I could not budge on. I was offended by the fact that the teacher could MAKE us prick our fingers. In a rare moment of defiance, I crossed my arms, shook my head and said I wasn’t doing it. I meant it too. (Come to think of it, this might be where the Beetle and the Goose get their strong-willed streaks from…) The teacher told me I would get an F on the project if I did not prick my finger. I told her to mark it in her book because I wasn’t doing it. (This really was a very rare outburst of defiance from me.) She said I had to do the project, and I asked her why. She said because it was part of the class, and I said I didn’t care. She told me to prick my finger, and I told her to let me prick hers first. I think I made her mad. She had two big guys hold me while she pricked my finger. Seriously. Where was the 5:00 news crew when I needed them? The result? I’m A+, thanks for asking. I also was positive I loathed science. That day sealed the deal.
Later in the semester, we began dissecting things. I saw no point in this. My public education had not allowed me to learn anything hands-on for the last nine years, so why, now, were they so concerned about me getting my hands into science? I didn’t get it, and I was having no part of it. We dissected an earthworm, a big nasty frog and a sweet little pink fetal pig. Let me correct that, my class dissected those animals. I never touched a single one. Never. Ever.
You see, there is value in being able to write well. It means your writing can earn you good grades. Therefore, I just found a lab partner who was a terrible writer, and I told her it was a match made in heaven. I made a deal with her that if she would touch the carcasses, I would do the writing. She wanted to shake on it, but I declined. (She had been touching dead things, after all.) So, for the rest of the year, I never actually participated in a biology project again. I just wrote about it.
So, a year ago, when the Goose started asking to dissect animals, I was horrified. I told Mr. E she had to get this from his side of the family, because I did not *do* dissection. The Goose begged. She had dissected a starfish with a friend of mine, Super-mom, as I like to call her, since she’s the only mom I know brave enough to gather 8 little girls in her home and let them cut up dead animals. The ooshy gooshy starfish was enough to turn my stomach, but it awakened the inner scientist in my child. Oh, yippee. So, the Goose finally convinced me to look online for somewhere to order animals for dissection. I found a place and looked through the obituaries, I mean, catalog. I told the Goose that I would not dissect anything with her, and I told her if she could convince her father, I would order the animals. She asked Mr. E one time, and he said, “Sure. Why not?” “Why not?” I thought, “I can list about 100 reasons.”
So, about ten months ago, I ordered the pig. I also ordered an owl pellet (that would be dried vomit with bones in it, in case you aren’t familiar) and a gecko. The Goose dissected the owl pellet and loved every minute of it. She kept the bones of the rodent and put them in a Ziplock bag. It was enough to gross out the Beetle and me. Maybe he’s my only real child. She must have been switched at birth.
The gecko ended up being nothing more than an average, everyday lizard like we avoid on our Florida sidewalks. I can’t believe I paid money for it, but it’s too small to attempt to dissect.
That left the fetal pig. The Goose wanted to name him. I told her that was unnatural. She’s been asking for months to cut him up, but between moving and moving, who has had time? So, this week was deemed as “the week” by the Goose. I agreed, because I figured, why not get it over with?
The Goose and I studied a virtual dissection online, trying to prepare for the big day. Just the photos were enough to make my skin crawl. I told Mr. E earlier this week that this was THE week and asked which day he preferred. He said, “Why do I have to do it?” “Oh, no, no, no, my friend. You can’t play that game with me,” I said. He said, “What game?” Then, I refreshed his memory of the discussion we had BEFORE I ordered the fetal pig. He finally gave in and said Friday could be the day.
The Goose was so excited, she invited a friend over. You know what they say, “Friends who dissect together…..” (Yeah, I don’t know what they say either.) So, the Goose and her friend were ready for the big moment of dissection. I was ready for it too. I left to go to lunch with Willow. Mr. Everything started to protest before I left, but I reminded him that he agreed to it. He really is a good daddy and husband. (As I told him while I was slowly walking toward the door.)
By the time I got back, the cutting was done. The back patio table looked a little like a crime scene, but at least I didn’t have to witness the crime. The Goose and her friend were happy, and all was good in the world. Mr. E looked a little shell-shocked, but I think he survived.
Now, I just wonder what the Goose will want to dissect next, and I wonder who I can convince to do it with her? Any volunteers? Super-mom, are you reading this? -Al