The Pet Equation

Math has always been my mortal enemy.  I’m not sure Math can say the same about me.  I’m not a worthy adversary, I think I would be more properly classified as a petty nuisance. 

Math always confounded me with its hard and fast rules and its inflexibility.  Word problems used to cause me the most consternation.  The situation presented seemed ripe for creativity and yet the correct course of action was multiplication or its drab ilk.  Take the iconic two speeding trains leaving a station and which would arrive first.  I always preferred to delve into the question like:  Who was on the trains? Where were they going?  Why were they in such a hurry to leave?   Were they lovers divided by a war torn country?  Were the trains speeding away because of plague, or even better, a zombie apocalypse?   I always thought these unanswered questions were far, far better and more satisfying than any calculations about rate and time and distance. I once pointed this out to my Math teacher who decided his best course of action was to remove me from advanced math.    

As I’ve gotten older and word problems have become all but a distant memory, I have found use for the simplicity and irrefutable truth of the math equation.  The rich life experience which has led me to this conclusion is pet fish. 

Fish suck.  They are bar none the worst pet that there is. Fish are supposed to be a low maintenance pet but that is a big misconception.  An aquarium is really a rectangular pool of chemically balanced water for you to throw your money into. You must calculate the proper PH, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, the amount of food pellets, the temperature, the salinity… the list goes on and on. PH too low, buy this, Nitrite problem, buy that. The fish have Ich, there’s a $remedy$.  Mind you, this is all to keep a 99 cent fish (who doesn’t offer an iota of affection to you) alive.  And here’s another oddity, we eat fish.  Pets in general don’t make the menu- except fish.  So when a fish dies you are either throwing good food or good money down the toilet.   

In fact, death is the bulk of the pet fish experience. Aquariums are in a perpetual cycle of death.  You become painfully aware of the warning signs.  A troubled fish may start swimming vertically as if revving up to spring out of the tank in some aquatic hari kari and then losing its nerve at the last second and swimming back to the bottom. Next, it resembles a self-propelled elbow macaroni.  Finally the poor bastard gives up the ghost, but your work is not done.  You have to scoop out the corpse quickly or you are going to have an awkward conversation with little Timmy about cannibalism and how Swimmy’s friends will eat his dying or dead corpse cuz that’s just how affectionate fish are. 

Here is where the black and white simplicity and irrefutable wonders of Mathematics comes into play.

This is an equation that I developed for my kids to ponder every time there’s a free fish prize at a carnival or every time we go to the pet store to buy my legitimate pet some food.

Kids + Fish (reduced to its simplest form) = an expensive box of wet stink.

This gives rise to my theorem that can apply to any pet that your child desires.

The Love > Stink.

The love you receive from said pet must be greater than the stink that emanates from the animal.  Thus, no hamsters, spiders, lizards, rats, turtles, AND ESPECIALLY FISH can be tolerated in my household.

Now dogs are more than welcome in my house because:

The love > Stink   every day and twice on Sundays.