Until a couple of months ago, my knowledge of schemes like Big Brothers, Big Sisters came mostly from the episode of The Simpsons where Bart decides to get himself a big brother, Tom, as a dependable replacement for Homer. You know the one: Homer tries to get revenge by replacing Bart with a little brother named Pepe while Lisa racks up an astronomical phone bill for calls to the Corey hotline. Well, I’m getting some real world exposure to the scene now because Himself has recently started volunteering with a similar youth mentoring scheme. (I know. Insert halo here.)
There was a lengthy vetting process that took months and involved background checks, police clearance, interviews, and training, but when he arrived home last weekend and announced that he wanted to get fish “because Joe* has a fishtank and it’s really cool”, I had to wonder how much time goes into vetting the kids to ensure they won’t be a bad influence on impressionable adults.
Part of the pet menagerie that my sister and I had when were growing up included goldfish, so I – stupidly – assumed that Himself was talking about getting one of those plastic fishbowls and popping in a fish.
You can imagine how deeply thrilled I was when it emerged that what he actually envisaged was a sizeable temperature-controlled aquarium filled with a selection of tropical freshwater species.
Ultimately I decided to just go with it – he puts up with me and my thoroughly ridiculous nail varnish collection, after all – and we are now the proud owners of a 90 litre tank complete with a gravel and sand substrate mix “because bottom feeders can injure themselves if you use gravel alone”, an assortment of fake plants “that the fish can swim in and out of”, and a fake log “to give them somewhere to hide”.
There is a certain irony there, I think, given that there is really nowhere in our one-bedroom flat where I’ll be able to hide from the fish. Because there are no fish yet; something about the water needing to cycle and filter and for ammonia and nitrates and nitrites levels to stabili-zzz. Not that Himself is letting that rain too severely on his parade. Oh no.
For now, he’s getting a nice nerdy kick out of monitoring the tank’s water quality.
At least it keeps him off the streets at night, I suppose…
Does your fella have interests or hobbies that leave you wondering what the actual eff?
* name has been changed, obvs