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. 

All the horrific things I witnessed on my cruise

There are a lot of unique things that happen when you and 4000 other people are sharing a floating hotel for 7 days. You’re on a cruise, so you have relatively limited mobility. There are only a certain number of things to do and places to go. Picture endless amounts of food, too many children, and piña coladas to drown out the children. Anyway, here’s some crazy shit that happened on the cruise. 

My eating habits

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all started to blur together and immediately spiraled out of control. Food is part of the cruise package, so aside from the expensive shit reserved for the glorified Ruby Tuesday’s on board, everything was ‘all you can eat.’ And nothing tastes better than food that appears to be free. There was a big buffet that served various cuisine at almost all times of the day, a sandwich bar, a 24-hour pizza place, an Indian food shop, and room service you could order at any time if you couldn’t get your lazy ass to one of the feeding troughs. Out of all the glorious and horrifyingly high caloric options, the absolute best thing that they served on the cruise, was the lava cake with vanilla ice cream on the side. Crack in a cup! Unfortunately, I’m not used to eating giant meals every hour, so this all had consequences for me. By the third day, I was throwing up what was initially a delicious, greasy grilled cheese and bacon sandwich. But I would do it all over again. It was worth it.

Lenny eating for 4

 This 8-year-old boy and the ice cream machine

Along with all the buffets and restaurants, there were ice cream machines every 10-feet that pumped out swirls of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, or cocaine-for-children as they say. The ice cream itself tasted like ice that was trying to whisper its flavor to you, but it’s free and in front of you. On the second day of the cruise, I watched an 8-year-old boy stick his meaty hands under one of the machines, holding out a cone ready to be filled. By the time he realized he overshot how much vanilla swirl he could fit into his cone, it was too late. In a last-ditch effort, he stuck out both of his chunky little arms like he was catching a football. He caught the ice cream in his hands, and proceeded to smear it onto the tray underneath the machine and walked on to try his luck at another.

My drinking habits

There was one drink package available, but as with everything on a cruise, they’re outrageously overpriced. My frugal boyfriend decided we could sneak some alcohol on in tiny plastic flasks. He hid them in his checked suitcase in various compartments and underneath articles of clothing, but then he did something strange without my knowledge. He attached a zip-tie on his suitcase to ensure it stayed closed. To this day, he argues that this is a perfectly normal thing to do, but if I were a cruise security person, this would clearly raise some red flags if not all of the red flags. Just as Icarus flew too close to the sun, Lenny fucked up our master plan. All of our alcohol except for two bottles of red wine had been confiscated when the bag got to our room. We agonized over the idea of being sober on a cruise for a week. After going through all of our limited options, he ended up getting the drink package for us, which amounted to 15 drinks per day PER PERSON. Lenny took this as a challenge and generally started drinking early in the day, and encouraged me to do the same. I don’t want to think about the amount of alcohol I ended up consuming, so this paragraph is going to have to stop here.

All the money I lost

There was a casino on the boat. And I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.

The hairy chest contest

On cruises, they have all sorts of competitions and shows for maximum entertainment. I got really into the hairy chest contest in particular because it involved regular, random, hairy guys that were either hand selected by the host or brave volunteers that were ready to strut their fluff. There were three female judges seated on the main deck, and about 7 bare-chested men. The host had the men perform an array of tasks one by one for the judges. First, they had to take their shirts off in a sexy way, then they had to twerk for the judges and finally do their best tiger crawl and roar on all fours. Lenny and I watched from the second deck, cheering and waving our arms frantically for our favorite performers. After each little show, the host took them aside individually and analyzed their chest hair, noting any major bald spots, discolorations, or extreme wooly mammoth situations. Then, he would name them accordingly. One man was named Mr. Fluffy for obvious reasons. Another, he called Tree of Life because his chest hair took on the shape of a hair tree. It was the only time in my life that I was both horrified and wished I had hair on my chest.

The Great Eyelash Crisis of 2018

I don’t really have a beauty regimen. I usually just slap on some foundation, eyeliner, mascara and call it a day. My maximum effort is getting manicures and haircuts semi-annually. Lately, eyelash extensions have been very much on my radar and seem trendy, even for people who aren’t the Kardashians. I had been wanting to try them for a while, and decided to take the plunge. I spoke to one of my girlfriends who had them, and she said, “I just roll out of bed, and go to work. I don’t even wear makeup anymore.”  WHAT?! You mean I could be putting even LESS effort into my beauty routine? Sold, bitch.

I perused Yelp for less than 10 minutes, found a place near me, and called to schedule an appointment. I was ready for my new life.

I arrived at a small space that was maybe the size of a semi-wealthy person’s closet. I was greeted by two pretty girls about my age. They were friendly enough and the one who was doing my eyelashes asked me a few questions about what I wanted. I showed her a picture from her website of a set that looked rather mild and told her I was going for a more natural look with some volume. “Like yours, yours look nice,” I said. She nodded and had me lay down on a table with a little grey travel pillow under my head. “This is great,” I thought. “I get to lay down, power through this hangover, and wake up with basically a new face.” The girls talked to each other a bit. Mostly about boy problems, some small talk about traveling, and one lecture about the danger of riding motorcycles.

After about two hours, the girl – let’s call her Karen – told me to open my eyes. I felt like someone had just given birth to me and I was seeing the world for the first time. But with more eyelashes than an infant might have. Karen put her face over mine and examined my eyes. “How do they look? Am I pretty yet?” I asked. She told me to go over to the mirror and check them out for myself. I got up, eager and ready, and looked in the mirror. This is one of the few times in life that I’ve actually seen myself look horrified in real time. My eyelashes were now 8 feet long and capable of creating a local hurricane. I was worried that if I blinked too quickly, I would spontaneously start flying into U.S. airspace and be detained for not having a license. I was no longer Tatianna. I was Cinnamon – a young stripper trying to make ends meet.

I tried not to panic, and said, “They’re…a little long.”

“You’ll get used to them!” she explained. “Let us know how you feel in a few days.” I didn’t want to offend Karen. This was her job, and honestly, if I actually was a stripper, these would’ve been great for my career. I left, and tried to hide my face on the way back to my car. “Shit, shit, shit.” I got in the car and looked at myself again in the mirror. “I can’t go to work like this. I have a regular person job.” I said to Cinnamon. I started calling everyone that was close to me to see what my options were. Here are some of the reactions I got after sending around some close-up pictures:

“Oh no.”

“You look like you have a Snapchat filter on.”

Laughter. Followed by more laughter.

“They’re not THAT bad.”

“You look like an insta model. You just need a spray tan.”

And it’s not exactly something you can hide – sure sunglasses inside are always a good option – but that really isn’t my style. Just like these lady-of-the-night lashes weren’t my style.

I called Karen back almost immediately and asked what I could do to “dial these puppies back a bit.” After some back and forth, she had me come back in to see the other girl that was there. Let’s call her Becky. Becky looked me straight in my ready-for-take-off eyes and lied. “They look soooo good.” She commented. “Just wait until tomorrow! You’ll get so many compliments once people see them.”

“I’ve already shown them to people and the reactions were NOT complimentary.” I informed her.

“Okay, well we can take some of them off and see how you feel.” I laid down on the tiny bed and calmed down a little. After a few minutes she held a mirror up to my face. “There that’s better, I think.” She said.

I looked at myself. Cinnamon was staring back at me. I turned around and looked her dead in the eyes. “I look like a porn star.”

She laughed and did a poor job trying to convince me that they looked good. “Can’t we just cut them or something?” I asked.

“Oh my God! Nooooo!” She said. “Here, let me show you what would happens. I love educating my clients!” Becky was nice, but she wasn’t the brightest bulb. She didn’t seem to realize that I would never be her client.

“Let’s just take them all off,” I said. She looked a little petrified, briefly tried to talk me out of it, and eventually agreed. She had me lay down, and put what felt like soap directly into my eyes. It burned, but I didn’t care. I just wanted these little wind turbines off my face. I listened to Becky as she tried to offer me a new free set. “Fool me once!” I thought. I thanked her and apologized for erasing all their work. I looked in the mirror one last time. Tati was back in all her makeup-less glory.

Swimming with Sharks in Belize

It’s never really been a goal of mine to swim with sharks. I’ve thought about the concept briefly and kind of decided ‘maybe not a great idea’. I mostly just don’t want to die that way or lose a limb…normal people concerns. But, when I went to Belize, one of their main activities/attractions is something called “Shark Ray Alley,” a designated area in the ocean where boats pull up with bait and humans (two separate things in their minds), feed the sharks, and let the humans get into the water with sharks and stingrays. When you’re on vacation, the ‘yes effect’ takes control. You just start agreeing with whatever your group wants to do, so I put my big girl swimsuit on and agreed to swim with these a-holes.

These two super awesome dudes took us out on their boat, gave us gear and were our instructors for the couple of hours we were out at sea. We drove about 20 minutes out, and as soon as the boat pulled up to this one specific spot, 30 nurse sharks showed up quicker than I show up to wine tastings. Apparently, they know that boat = breakfast. One of the instructors started tossing little bits of fish off the left side of the boat and the sharks were swimming over one another to inhale the food. The other instructor told us to get into the water on the right side of the boat and to stay about 5-8 feet away from the sharks. No, we weren’t in cages. The only gear we had on were snorkel masks and flippers.

I plopped into the water ready to die. “I’ve done a lot of things,” I thought. “I regret not buying that bouncy house though. And I regret not doing more drugs. And I regret not doing both of those things at the same time.” I swam in the water for a bit and dipped my whole face in so I could see what I was working with. I saw all the sharks congregating on the left side of the boat, trying to get a good snack in before their entree (us). There were four of us adults and about 20-80 nurse sharks just 10 feet away. They reminded me of what my dogs do whenever I’m eating…just kind of stay in one spot and stare at me until I give in (immediately) and throw them some chicken.

Before all of this, my boyfriend promised to stay next to me and hold my hand the whole time. He’s pretty muscular and was in the military for like 6 years so I had every intention of not leaving his side during this experience. In my mind, I had nothing to worry about. When the sharks attacked, he’d sacrifice himself to save me and I’d write a little paragraph about him at the end of my memoir, and adopt his dog and take his house. This is not what happened. Instead, he kept getting water in his mask and was too busy drowning and inhaling all of the ocean water to be my protector. I was on my own and made a mental note of how useless he is underwater.

I swam back to the boat in a super elegant way (similar to a mermaid). But, I’m not very bright, so I tried to climb the ladder with giant flippers and my snorkel mask still stuck to my face. Not only could I not see well, but didn’t think to take these things off my feet. And there’s nothing really to hold onto except for the boat which was all lubed up by the water we’d been dripping onto it. So, I rolled back onto the boat (picture a whale rolling around on the sand). “Do they not attack people?” I asked one of our boat-men. “Nah, not unless you mess with them.” He said. “Do you want to feed them?” I need everyone and everything to like me at all times, so of course, I wanted to feed them. They were cute now that I was hovering above them.

After I got home, I Wikipedia’d ‘nurse sharks’ and according to the interwebs, they’re ‘ranked fourth in documented shark bites on humans.’ It says this might be because divers aren’t as cautious around these guys since they don’t have a reputation for attacking people. So basically, the take-home lesson is that I swam with the deadliest sharks in the ocean and lived to blog about it.

A Totally Unrelatable Account of What It’s Like to Live at Home

I want to make it clear from the beginning that I have a unique set up at my house. And by house I mean two bedroom apartment with 4 adult humans and 3 animals. No matter what – I’m extremely fortunate. I live in an incredible city that’s two blocks away from a CVS with wine, half-baked Ben and Jerry’s, and adult diapers if it ever comes to that. But still, it’s strange.

I live with my mom, my sister and my mom’s best friend Islean. Living in a relatively small space with so many beings gets chaotic, dirty and often mirrors a “Lord of the Flies” vibe. It’s every man for himself with a, “I’m here for you if you absolutely NEED me to be and if I’m not busy” kick. But, there’s never a sober moment as they say. Dull! I meant dull moment.

Me, my Mom and Islean

Our apartment was looking particularly disheveled one day when my mom’s husband stopped by. I’m already being dishonest. Our apartment is always disheveled – it wasn’t just that one day. When you live in a two bedroom apartment with too many people that don’t thoroughly enjoy cleaning, it gets messy. My mom’s husband walked in, took a quick look around and said, “I feel like I need to wear a hazmat suit every time I come here.” For those of you who don’t know, a hazmat suit is impermeable protective gear – you know for people who encounter poisonous, radioactive chemicals on the reg. After he made that reference, the idea kind of took off and spiraled out of control. We began calling our apartment “Hazmania” as if it were its own country.

My mom falls somewhere between Julia Roberts in ‘Pretty Woman’ and Sarah Conner in ‘The Terminator.’ Except she’s not a prostitute and is only a smidge homicidal. She’s intelligent, funny and totally charming when she feels like being charming. She’s got the attractiveness of a model combined with the wit of Bill Burr or any other middle-aged male comedian.

Mom’s motto

“I wish I was the type of person who enjoyed traveling, but I genuinely regret it every time I go anywhere. I’d rather stay home and watch tv pantsless.” My mom has been saying every version of this sentence ever since I can remember, and all I can say is that I really admire how well she knows herself. Most well-adjusted 23-year-olds don’t want to live with their mom – but I’m not well-adjusted so I don’t fall into this category. In an ideal world, I’d live with her for forever. Or until my future husband tells me it’s time to maybe move out of my mom’s house “since we’ve been married for 8 years now.” She’s my best friend, my confidant and the Queen of Hazmania.

Islean moved in with us a few years ago mostly for entertainment value. When I say moved in, I mean he showed up here every other day unannounced and slowly started leaving all his shit here. Islean and my mom met at the gym, which is where they both live when they’re not here. If I’m remembering correctly, my mom was very into Yoga at the time and Islean was teaching her meditation techniques.

Islean on a good day

I feel it’s better to leave these photos here without any explanation.

Pregnant Islean

Islean is a big, buff personal trainer and he’s funny as hell. He comes from a theatrical background and studied acting at NYU back in the day. Just picture a big, buff dude… who occasionally bursts out into song. And puts up with three unpleasable women. In Hazmania, he is the entertainer, the comic relief, and the one who trains us for free.

Doing our best

Have I not mentioned my sister yet? She’s like me, but I’m better in every way. And she’s also very different from me. Growing up, Bri was the athletic one and I was a book nerd. In other words, she beat the shit out of me and I retorted with a very mean and robust vocabulary. Bri has the emotional intelligence of a 70-year-old woman who has SEEN SOME SHIT and, like our mom, could’ve been a model. She’s often the one who brings us all together because she doesn’t just want attention; she demands it. If one of us isn’t paying enough attention to her, we get tackled. And we all must accept the fact that if we make food, she’s going to eat it.

“Okay so here are our options,” I said. “Hazmanians. Hazmatians. Hazmatters. Hazmats. If we’re going to be our own entity, we should definitely have a name and probably a fun uniform, but that’ll come later.” I enjoy taking things too far and thought our Hazma-society needed more than just a name. There was some discussion and then we took it to a vote (apparently we’re a democratic society). We are now the Hazmanians of Hazmania.

When it’s cool to hit on people and when it’s probably not

It’s hard to hit on people. I get it – even as a girl I understand it’s hard to muster up the courage to go up to a stranger and start alluding to the fact that you’d love to sleep with them if they gave you the opportunity. However, there are certain places where you should probably hang onto that bravery for a rainy day or for when you’re ordering anything from Taco Bell. Recently a stranger reached out to me via Facebook messenger to tell me: “I’m sorry I saw you on Facebook and you’re so stunning I couldn’t help but write you a poem! I hope you’ll excuse my forwardness.” He then proceeded to send what felt like 4 pages of poetry. This is actually the second time a boy I’ve never met reached out on Facebook to send me poetry. I’m not sure what about my prof pic screams ‘PLEASE SEND POETRY’ but it’s a wasted effort. I kind of hate poetry, but I can appreciate it when it’s not directed at me.

Additionally, a few weeks back, a person who is kind of a ‘hallway acquaintance’ – meaning, you see them in a high school hallway often enough to wave but don’t ever actually say anything to them – tried his luck with me via LinkedIn with a message that read: “Congrats on the new job. (never flirted on LinkedIn before).” So glad to have been his first!

Honestly, I wish someone would hit on me via Venmo. That would be acceptable. “Hey there! You’re so pretty and skinny. Here’s 20 bucks. Lunch is on me today.” I could buy 15 tops at H&M with that.  

ANYWAY – to those of you that struggle with the existential “TO HIT ON OR NOT TO HIT ON?” question, maybe this super official list of bullet points and categories will be helpful when you’re deciding whether or not to hit on that barista you keep ‘running into’ at Starbucks.

Frowned upon times/places to hit on people

  • Funerals
  • LinkedIn
  • Police stations
  • Sex addicts anonymous meeting
  • In the midst of a fender bender
  • Job interviews
  • Family reunions (unless you’re Daenerys Targaryen and Aegon Targaryen *previously Jon Snow*)
  • Gynecology office
  • In a group chat
  • Prisons
  • At an intervention

Acceptable times/places to hit on people

  • A bar
  • Tinder
  • Bowling alleys (BUT NOT REGULAR ALLEYS)
  • Grocery stores
  • Venmo
    • Send money though
  • A party
  • A concert or Coachella
    • Pretty much anywhere people gather to listen to loud music and do drugs
  • Dog parks
  • Bookstores
  • Instagram DMs – I’ve been told this is the way of the future in terms of dating
  • Liquor stores
  • Museums

Gray areas

I feel like these are just based on personal preferences, and I’d be more than willing to discuss them in depth with anyone who has a ridiculous amount of time on their hands like I do.

  • The gym
    • I don’t like it, but I’m aware a lot of relationships begin with common interests like lifting up heavy things and putting them down repeatedly
  • Gas stations
    • Jim proposed to Pam outside of a gas station, so it’s probably fine
  • Laundromats
  • Church
    • I don’t go to church so I’m not 100% sure about this one
  • The DMV

My text messages taken out of context

Here are some texts I’ve either received or sent within the last few weeks in no particular order:

It’s ok, I was just taking out the garbage and it got me thinking about you

Sorry I was helping my parents clean out our garage and got way too amused with a horse head

I wish I was Steve Harvey

All the strippers will be like “damn look at that pattern”

Then they’ll have to call me the super soaker

What kind of questionable porn are you watching

*Writes down* “murder not good”

I think I need to make my terrible qualities a little bit more terrible

I think I’m just gonna quit everything and play ukulele

I know, my earlobes even piss me off

*Begins nerf gun battle to the death*

VALIDATE HOW MUCH OF A STONER I WAS

But he hurt my feelings, so I needed to destroy him from the inside

I’m a born again virgin 

My real goal is to find a 45-year-old milf on a weekend vacation with the girls

I bought a breathalyzer 

I made out with her and left the bar and she’s like ‘you’re not coming home with me.’ No. I’m going to get a Nutella Crepe. 

I would lose a baby if given the opportunity

Until I accidentally kill your family or something 

Thanks to my friend Ryan who helped me dig through our texts to find some outrageous gems.