How often are arguments won not because a position is proven, but because one party runs out of ways to rephrase his or her stance?   It’s probably more common in parenting (where the amount of time the vowel is held in the word “please” is occasionally a factor in the argument’s outcome) than in any other situation.

This strip is vaguely appropriate for Halloween, I guess, but that’s not really what inspired it.

Several weeks ago, my son and I were biking to the playground, and as we crossed a bridge over a small brook, I noticed a decent-sized fish in the water. We stopped to check it out, and realized that it was stuck in a slightly deeper pocket in the rather dry brook.  Climbing down for a closer look, we noticed another fish nearby – this one clearly an injured angelfish lying on its side, breathing out of the only gill it could keep underwater.

Crists have always been suckers for animals in need of rescue, so we biked back home to get Mrs. Shoebox and two buckets, and minutes later my son was wading into the brook, where he successfully scooped out both fish.  Mrs. Shoebox noted that earlier in the day she had seen a woman standing by the brook with two hysterical children and a plastic bag, and from this we gained some inkling of the story in which we were now participants.  The angelfish unfortunately died at some point while Mrs. Shoebox ran out to buy dechlorinator, but the other – a bala shark – survived, and was transferred to a larger bucket of clean water in our bathroom.

Later that night – and this is the part that’s really going to sound far-fetched – we got the rest of the story.  When looking on Craigslist for an aquarium for what was clearly going to be our new pet, Mrs. Shoebox discovered a Craigslist ad from a few days earlier for a 50-gallon tank…along with an angelfish, a bala shark, and an algae eater, “$250 with fish, $200 without.”  The poster had included an address, which was right down the road from our house, and the attached photo all but confirmed that our new fish acquisition was the result of a buyer taking this idiot seller’s “without” option.

Anyway, we found an aquarium elsewhere, and the luckiest bala shark in suburbia is now in our living room along with a handful of tetras and two albino African claw-footed water frogs. This was not a cheap investment, but my son now has a story that I think is well worth it.

And I have the address of a woman who thought it was a good idea to throw her pets into a brook.

I also have a dead angelfish.  And a Finding Nemo DVD case.  And a stamp.