As I begin putting together my daughter's camp supplies, I can't help but think of my parting words to my mom as I got on the bus for camp: "Mom, please promise you'll take care of Romeo and Juliet." I was 11, and Romeo and Juliet were my pet goldfish. I won them at a carnival several months before and had become very attached to them. I named them Romeo and Juliet, the most romantic names my 11-year- old mind could think of, because I wanted baby fish. I obviously hadn't read Romeo and Juliet.
As the weeks led up to my departure, I put together lists and all necessary information my mother might need to take care of them. Exactly when and how to change their water, exactly how often and how much to feed them--down to the number and size of the flakes, and, of course, if she looked closely, how she would know if they were really happy. I knew this because I spent many hours watching them.
With my mother's assurances of dedicated goldfish care, I went to camp. Several weeks into what must have felt like taking care of her grandchildren, my mother discovered the top of Romeo's tail was black. The next day it spread. As the black continued up his body, I'm sure she was thinking of my weekly phone calls home, which all began with, "How are Romeo and Juliet?"
She did what any caring pet owner would do: She brought them to the veterinarian. Only a mother's love would allow an emotionally well-balanced adult to very seriously walk into a veterinarian's examining room holding a bowl containing two goldfish. As he looked over his patients, she explained her situation. After some thought, he told her to get new fish. No, no, she couldn't do that because her daughter would know. As if he was treating a prized race horse instead of a prize from a carnival, he prescribed Aureomycin--an expensive antibiotic. Her only hope, he said, was to go home immediately, separate the fish, thoroughly clean the bowls and begin a strict regimen of antibiotic drops.
After several days of round-the-clock medical care, Romeo died. She then threw all of her hopes and prayers into Juliet. Every day, she continued to give Juliet antibiotics. And she watched. A week later, Juliet developed a black spot on the tip of her tail. It must have been like a bad dream in slow motion. Juliet, having lost her mate on stage, in books and now in a fishbowl, must have known what was coming. She died several days before I came home from camp.
As if humiliation at the veterinarian's office were not enough or spending a small fortune on something that literally went down the toilet didn't put her over the top, now came my mother's day of reckoning. She had to pick up her 11-year-old at the camp bus stop and explain why she, as a mother, had failed in her seemingly simple promise to keep two small fish alive for eight short weeks.
After I got into the car, my first question was "How are Romeo and Juliet?"
My mom took a deep breath and began slowly telling her tale. When she got to the part where she bought the antibiotic I said, "Mom, most people just wait until they die, then just flush them down the toilet."
My mind anxiously fast-forwards to the hamster and tadpole I bought my 11-year-old daughter this year. Right about now, just weeks away from camp, I have begun questioning these purchases. When I mentioned this to my mom, she just sat back and smiled.
Karen Loseff Lothan,
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Asking Wal-Mart why
If Wal-Mart dropped Maxim magazine (editorial, May 7) because its board members found it offensive, that's what would I call freedom of choice. But if they dropped it because some of their customers were offended and wanted the magazine removed, then they are just the latest of these politically correct lemmings who jump over a cliff because some vocal minority told them to.
Scott Sinclair, Gurnee
Who's robbing whom?
After reading about how Saddam Hussein's son Qusai ordered $1 billion to be removed from Iraq's central bank, I got to do some math. The average 18-wheel semi with cab attached is 55 feet long. That comes out to 165 feet of semis back-to-back to hold $1 billion. Bush's tax cut comes out to a line of trucks parked bumper to bumper for almost 23 miles for the original $726 billion tax cut, and just over 17 miles long for the scaled-down $550 billion tax cut. Most of that will go to the top 1 percent of the people.
Now tell me who is the bigger bank robber.
Wendell Wilcox, Lombard
MY TWO CENTS
"If Wal-Mart dropped Maxim magazine from its shelves because some of its customers were offended and wanted the magazine removed, it is just the latest of politically correct lemmings who jump over a cliff because some vocal minority told them to." --SCOTT SINCLAIR
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