A Fish Named Fred: The story of how a dramatic woman made her bf agree to getting a fish

On the way to my apartment, there’s a sizeable Petco. Occasionally, they lure you over there by putting a bunch of dogs up for adoption outside of the store. My boyfriend was driving past it when I yelled, “Pull over! I need to pet the puppies!” Usually, he ignores me when I shout commands at him, so I was pleasantly surprised when he pulled into the parking lot.

There were about 6 dogs lined up in cages; the pups all equally sad and jaded looking; on the verge of giving each other prison tattoos and quietly making shanks out of chew toys. There was a rambunctious black lab mix that barked at anyone who came near her little jail cell.

“Don’t mind her, she just wants attention,” one of the adoption people told me. I looked at him and said, “Oh, I do the same thing when I want attention.”

I looked at the dogs and explained to Lenny that I had connections with all of them. “…and in conclusion, we have to adopt each one,” I said. “No,” he answered, “Let’s go get Luigi a new toy.” Luigi is his unruly 6-year-old Vizla. He’s big, beautiful, and has a nice combination of energy and anxiety.

There were more dogs inside, but I made an effort to avoid them. It would’ve been unfair to make more connections with other dogs that Lenny prevented us from getting.

I was headed for the Lizard aisle when I stopped to look at the fish. They were held in tiny, clear containers stacked on top of each other, like some cruel game of fish Jenga. Their little homes couldn’t have held more than a cup of water. I was surprised by how pretty some of them were. And now, I needed a fish.

I called Lenny over and started aggressively complimenting him. “You’re like, ridiculously handsome. And your biceps…just wow.” He looked at me and then looked at the fish, and replied, “We’re not getting a fish.” Phase one of project manipulate-Lenny-Into-Getting-A-Fish was failing quickly.

“Ok, hear me out,” I said, “You’ve got these beautiful white countertops at your house, and how nice would a vibrant, red little Betta fish look?” He knows I step up my vocabulary game when I want something. He looked at the fish a little longer.

That’s when I saw it in his face … a small door had opened. He was slightly receptive to what I was suggesting. So I gently kicked that door down, and continued, “And your Airbnb’s! You could put fish in there! Think of all the cool reviews you’d get.” He cocked his head to the side and was seriously thinking about it. “Okay, let’s…I’ll think about it,” he said. We left with a toy and a seed that I planted in that big, beautiful brain of his.

The next morning, we were both a smidge hungover, and I made a feast for breakfast. This is when I realized I should always ask for things after he has just eaten. “So…have you thought about the fish? For names, I was thinking either Fred or Bartholomew since the little red one you liked is a boy.” I was ready to put phase four through ten of my manipulation plan into motion when he answered, “Okay, we can get him. I like Fred better.” I was stunned. I thought I’d have to wait WEEKS to get a fish together. I beamed and pushed my luck – “Today?! Can we go back today?!” I asked. “Yeah, sure… let’s go today.” I jumped on him and screamed in his ear.

“But…since this will be our first child together, we need some rules,” he informed me.

“Okay, let me draft up a quick contract,” I responded.

We drove to FedEx to laminate the contract. I was so excited, he could’ve gotten me to sign anything, and I almost never read what I’m signing. I could’ve been handing over a real human child for all I knew. Luckily, I wrote this one myself, and it was just a simple raising-a-fish-together agreement.

After making it official, we went back to the Petco to rescue a red fish named Fred. Lenny stopped me from purchasing 8 toys and 20 sets of decorations for his tank. We got back in the car and I held his little container as still as possible, for fear of traumatizing or dropping him. The whole way back to his house, I thanked Lenny and expressed excitement over purchasing our first son together.

Lenny parked the car. I exited slowly and methodically to protect my new, scaly baby. When we got inside to adjust him into his giant new fish-apartment, I’ll admit, I clumsily dumped him into the tank and could’ve been more graceful. As a new mother, I’ve learned to be more gentle with him over time. Now, he lives in a 3-gallon mansion by himself on Lenny’s countertop. How Fred affords that type of real estate in Los Angeles, I’ll never know. I love my little sushi, and I hope he never learns to read. 

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