Send Help (and driftwood)


Friends, I need your help.


white text on black background reads: "You had me at "we'll make it look like an accident."


It’s too late for a cover-up—at this point the best we can hope for is to be really proactive about our excuses, explanations, and justifications.


Let me back up.



a finger presses the rewind button and the world rewinds: a clock runs backward, cream pours up into pitcher, coffee drips back into pot from cup; a woman wakes up


First, you need to know it was never supposed to get so out of control.  Sure, people always say that but really, I thought I knew what I was doing—research is my thing!  If anything, I tend to overanalyze and never get around to actually deciding!


But I got caught up in a world where the usual rules of logic and common sense don’t apply.



ME:  (scrolling)  Where the hell do people get off charging more than they paid new for their used crap?
OFFSPRING:  Craigslist people are crazy.  You know that.
ME:  Right, but this is on Facebook too.
OFFSPRING:  What are you doing shopping on Facebook?  Too cheap for ebay?
ME:  No… but the thing I want doesn’t ship and—dammit, seriously?  BITCH THERE’S NO WAY YOU PAID EVEN HALF THAT!
OFFSPRING:  What are you buying?
ME:  … Fish tank.
OFFSPRING:  Okay… and you can’t just go to the pet store and—
ME:  Most pet stores don’t really carry what I need.
OFFSPRING:  What do you need that’s so special?
ME:  (sighs)  I’m looking for a 125 gallon aquarium with a stand and—
OFFSPRING:  125 GALLONS!?!  What the unholy fuck are you putting in there, a shark?
ME:  …
OFFSPRING:  … Mother…
ME:  … Just a baby one.
ME:  Ba—
OFFSPRING:  Don’t do it.
ME:  Ba—
OFFSPRING:  I’ll hang up on you.
ME:  Baby SHARK doo doo
OFFSPRING:  (hangs up)

couple in bed, both awake; she looks suspiciously at him, he is preoccupied. (TEXT) Her: I bet he's thinking of other women. HIM: Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo. Baby Sha... GOD DAMMIT


Yes, of course I’m going to explain how I came to be searching for a 125-gallon aquarium, but for now can you just… pretend you’re married to me and accept that sometimes random pets and their accessories will find their way into the home?  Because all that back story is for our next post and this post, right now, is for the more immediate issue.


If you’re new here, welcome!  I do shit backward.


So I knew I needed a massive aquarium.  I settled on 125 gallons because, as Husband pointed out, water is heavy.  8.3 pounds per gallon, as Husband pointed out to me while I was trying not to eat all the onion rings.


He’d been unsuccessful in convincing me that we didn’t have space for the footprint of a 300-gallon tank, you see.


Anyway, I did some quick googling and realized holyshitfuckingmonkeycrackers, glass aquariums be expensive!  But wait… what do people do almost immediately upon buying a giant aquarium and all the stuff that goes with it?

man attempts to slide down pool slide face first; flips, lands hard in border garden, then slips into pool (hilarious fail)


That’s right, they fail epically at their new hobby, or realize it’s waaaay more work than that goldfish they never fed as a kid[1] and start looking to unload all this expensive crap that’s taking up space in their home, reminding them of their failure.


Enter Craigslist.


So I hit Craigslist and found… no end of 75-gallon tanks (mostly being sold by people who realized quickly they’d bought an inadequate tank and were getting out or upsizing) and a whole lot of beautiful 125-gallon setups being sold for very reasonable prices in places like Ohio.


But here in St Louis?


People wanted their money back and then some.

phone screen; calling Bullshit


So I said fuck it and watched for a new tank to go on sale at the chain stores.



ME:  (beaming)  We’re here for the 125.
PETSTORE LADY:  Oh, wow!  Okay, umm… let me… (over radio)  Can I get a really big dolly to the fish department?  Yeah, they wanna buy a 125.
HIM:  …
ME:  You’re the only store in the city that has one.
PETSTORE LADY:  I’m not surprised—they really don’t sell very well.
ME:  Oh?  Why?
PETSTORE LADY:  I don’t know… they’re more of a display tank, probably.  So, how are you getting this home?
HIM:  We’ve got an SUV
ME:  Right, but I’m not sure both parts will fit… we might have to make two trips, hon.
HIM:  No, it’ll be fine.
ME:  (worried look)
PETSTORE LADY:  Well, here’s your dolly!
HIM:  …
ME:  Don’t you… ?
PETSTORE LADY:  Oh, no.  We don’t have anyone here who can lift that.
ME:  Huh.  And it only comes (gestures)  like this?
PETSTORE LADY:  What do you mean?
ME:  I mean I knew the tank would be this big thing, but I sort of expected that if we came here and bought a new one the stand would be in a box, waiting for us to assemble it at home.
PETSTORE LADY:  Oh.  Nope!  They come in and we do all that right here.  Actually… I don’t know, because these have been sitting here as long as I’ve worked here.  It’s been years since we sold one.
ME:  …
PETSTORE LADY:  Yeah, I don’t know why they’re not more popular.

Buttercup eye twitch


So we left without a tank and got lunch instead.



ME:  I can’t believe I didn’t think of this.
HIM:  It’s okay.  I thought we’d be able to handle it.
ME:  No, seriously.  I’ve been obsessing over every detail.  Here I am planning out how I’ll pour the water into the tank—because yeah, there are multiple techniques for getting the water in and I researched them like a lunatic.  But how we’re getting the tank into the house?  Didn’t occur to me.
HIM:  I get it.
ME:  I think we need to face the unpleasant truth.
HIM:  What’s that?
ME:  I’m an idiot.
HIM:  Me too, though.
ME:  (quietly)  But we knew that.



Aaand that’s how I came up with the brilliant idea of hiring movers and renting a cargo van, bringing the cost of our bargain tank up another $300 or so.

surrounded by fire "this is fine" cartoon


Have you figured out my problem yet?


Let’s move on to my next tantrum, but sound off in the comments exactly when you figured out what’s wrong with me.


ME:  (scrolling)  Okay no.  NO.  I have a problem.
HIM:  (sighs)  What’s the problem?
ME:  Driftwood.
HIM:  … What?
ME:  Why is driftwood so fucking expensive?  I mean… it’s driftwood.  Someone walked outside and picked that up for free.  Then they dragged it inside, laid it on a towel, photographed it, and they’re charging $50 a piece or more?  How… I can’t… What…
HIM:  You need driftwood?
ME:  (withering stare)
HIM:  Okay, fine.  So we’ll go to where there’s driftwood and pick some up.
ME:  (pulls face)  You mean, with our hands?
HIM:  (does a credible impression of my wtf face)
ME:  Outside?[2]
HIM:  (patiently)  We’ll go to a state park or something—
ME:  (shakes head)  Can’t.  It’s illegal.
HIM:  It’s not illegal to pick up driftwood—
ME:  In state parks it is!  That’s preserved land!  (in mystic hippie tones)  You must take only pictures and leave only footprints.
HIM:  …
ME:  It’s like you’ve never even seen South Park.
HIM:  Whatever.  Then we’ll just walk along the river.[3]
ME:  (wrinkles nose)  Gross.
HIM:  That’s why other people are charging.

(black and white photo) Glass reads: I'm outdoorsy in that I like getting drunk on patios


But see, all of that was just the tip of the iceberg.  Because I did eventually get the tank and stand on sale (I swear, they kept dropping the price to tempt me back) and I’ve given up on the driftwood thing.  Nobody sells driftwood for what a hunk of free-ass wood is worth, and if they are selling it cheap it’s because they treated it or nailed it to some random crap and called it art.


The bigger problem is that every goddamned day there was an amazon delivery (it really was cheaper than buying local, I swear) of something I’d realized I absolutely needed.  And even once that first wave of deliveries stopped, I was waking up to a new tank problem that could only be fixed by—you guessed it—buying more shit.


Now please remember that I was coming in from haunting at 1am or later.


And Husband, being the sort of man he is, never once took the card from me or locked me out of amazon.


Y’all, it is too late and too much to hope that he never finds out how much this aquarium—which, by the way was supposed to be so simple; I promised him—is costing us.  What I need now is your help justifying the truly ungodly amount of money that’s been spent on canister filters, LED lighting, timers, aeration, heating, decoration, live plants, water treatment… I can’t even remember where it all went, if I’m honest.


I just know that someday he’s going to do the math, and he’s going to leave me.


And I really don’t think I can afford this tank by myself.

(cartoon) woman sitting in the dark, rainy woods writes "send help" note, hands it to pigeon; pigeon is immediately eaten by bigger bird







[1] Seriously, parents: you’re not doing anyone any favors by replacing the fish that dies due to your child’s neglect. Just explain to your child what went wrong and discuss, as a family, what should come next. Is everyone going to take responsibility for the next/remaining fish? Are you going to give up on fish for a while? Both are valid options that teach your child even fish need food and clean water and care!

[2] Once again, I’d like to welcome the new readers. Hi! I’m Chase and I don’t go outside. The sun is there and the wifi is spotty.

[3] Note for foreigners and people who live in idyllic little places where rivers run clear and sparkling: the Mississippi, as it runs through St Louis, is not a thing one strolls along casually while breathing through their nose. Ditto on the lesser rivers around and through town.


13 comments on “Send Help (and driftwood)

  1. Jack Herlocker says:

    Fish, Chase? Did I miss the mention of fish? Because you keep calling it a “fish tank” which has certain, perhaps unintended, implications in the final product.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Colleen Glim says:

    And don’t even get me started on cleaning it. For one that size you gonna need a swimsuit

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Victor K says:

    Sorry, but I’m glad you went through this and let us know about it. I’ve been thinking about a large tank for a few months now, and this is the icy cold reality bath my brain needed to read.

    Just work out what the educational value is for others and take that off the final tally. Also, that kind of makes it an occupational expense, so double deduction! So really, this is probably a POSITIVE value purchase overall. How can anyone get annoyed about that?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. KathyG says:

    Just in case you were serious about putting a baby shark in there, I’m going to be the one to ask: don’t they grow up? Or is their growth constrained by their living space? In which case, how much fun will it be for the shark? Not that I’m usually that interested in quality-of-life issues for predatory fish, but isn’t this supposed to be a pet? And isn’t quality of life sorta the point of a pet? What am I missing here? I have so many questions…

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are freshwater sharks that stay reasonably small—small enough to live happily in the tank I’ve got, anyway. And yes, quality of life is my MAJOR consideration when considering new pets (or making changes for the ones I’ve got)

      A word on the myth that fish (and other non-mammals) “grow to the size of their enclosure. This is both technically true and one of the most horrifying practices in the pet world. You can, through inadequate diet and space, stunt the growth of a living thing. This is cruel and heartbreaking (literally) as it leads to all sorts of deformities that are… not compatible with life. One of the issues, especially with fish, is that their internal organs continue to grow even as their bodies don’t. Please, if you own a caged or aquatic pet, provide adequate space for their maximum adult size. It’s bad enough they live in their toilet, let’s not make it a cramped toilet.

      (I know you didn’t advise it as a practice, but you hit on one of my pet peeves so everyone gets the lecture.)


  5. Sherry Bucalo says:

    Ok so I can usually keep up, but how did you go from throwing blood on yourself to a shark?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My dad has a degree in marine biology and has worked his whole working life in aquaculture. He literally breeds and grows water-things for money. And he could not keep an at home aquarium alive.


    He didn’t plan it out that well. The big problem was he got a small tank and there probably wasn’t quite enough space for the fish he started with, so they all fought and ate each other (when he got down to two gouramis, they actually did very well for years). And not only are you not remotely getting a small tank, but also I’ve just read in your next installment that having them eat each other is kind of the point because shark. So, therefore, thus, in conclusion, I have so much faith in you and am very excited.

    Liked by 1 person

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