Dating : How Long You Can Keep a Catfish in a Bathtub

h2>Dating : How Long You Can Keep a Catfish in a Bathtub

According to My Neighbor Bill

Nicholas Wilbur
Image by Filip Kalaj from Pixabay

This isn’t click-bait. It’s educational, so I won’t make you scroll through a whole article looking for the answer. It’s seven days. You can keep a catfish in a bathtub for seven days.

So says my neighbor Bill. Former neighbor, technically. He had to move, for reasons not disclosed. Just said one day, “Gotta go,” and that was the last I saw of him. It was several months after the catfish incident so I cannot accurately speak to a possible correlation between the catfish and the move.

What I can speak to, with a good level of authority, is the durability of a wild fish living in captivity.

Seven days. It’s durable for seven days.

How I Know the Things I Know

Bill went fishing. I know this because he left and came back and had a fish in a towel. Not in a cooler. Not in one of those fancy IceMule fish backpacks. Two arms, bear-hugging a poorly draped bathroom towel, yelling like hell for me to get the door for him.

A Little About Bill

Bill was a simple man with simple pleasures. He liked TV, fishing, and talking about walking his dog, Dog-Dog. I never actually saw him walk Dog-Dog, but he’d tell anyone in earshot about how Dog-Dog could spell.

Miracles do happen.

Bill had a lot of ideas about things. As next-door neighbors, he would pop his head out of his sliding glass door and stare through mine until I walked by or looked over and jumped out of my skin seeing his huge face pressed against the glass.

“I was thinking,” he’d say. “You could write my essay for English. You’re good at English.” And I’d say, “No, Bill. Why take community college courses if you have someone else do the work?” And he’d think for a second and say, “I’ll give you this old Walkman,” and somehow he would have a Walkman right there in his hand, as if he had it the whole time, like he planned it, knowing I’d have to be bribed, and the best bribe he could think of was a Walkman.

If I was home, Bill had an idea. When I was gone, I wondered what he did with them all. When he left, I missed him.

Bill was always there for me. When I first moved in, straight out of college, too poor to turn the power on, he let me iron my clothes for work. He gave me a chair and table he was getting rid of. He invited me over for TV dinners and Pepsi at least once a week. He was a good guy, a genuinely nice person, and I feel a bit bad for not taking him up on a TV dinner even once.

Settling Into His New Home

A few days went by without any fish updates. Looking back, I’m a little disappointed in myself for not giving the situation more of my attention. It’s not every day your neighbor catches, captures, transports, and stores a wild animal in a single-bathroom tub in a tiny apartment. For seven days.

In fact, it’s been ten years and I still haven’t been in a situation even remotely similar to the one with Bill & his bathtub fish. If I could go back in time, or somehow track down Bill, I would be more inquisitive.

I would ask why he decided to keep the catfish in the bathtub. What went through his mind. What his hypothesis was. How long he thought it would survive in there. If he fed it, and if so what he fed it, how often, how much. Did it have a feeding schedule, like Dog-Dog? Did they all dine together, Dog-Dog on the tile floor, Bill on the toilet, a TV-dinner perched on his knee, a cup of Pepsi on the sink next to the soap, a nice little happy family at dinner time? Did he name it, something like Fish-Fish perhaps? Did he teach it to spell?

“He’s still swimming,” Bill advised on day three. “I think he likes it. He’s getting used to his new home.”

“Bill,” I asked, “how are you bathing?” It was my only question. I was too busy with my own life to give Bill and Fish-Fish the time of day. Hygiene was my only concern.

“Eh,” Bill shrugged. “I got no-where to go.”

When Fish-Fish Met His Maker

When I looked over at the sliding glass door, Bill wore an expression of sad pride, devastated at the loss but thankful for the time God gave you.

“He stopped moving,” Bill said.

“Hey, wow. I’m sorry Bill.”

“It’s okay. He lived a good life. You want to join me and Dog-Dog for dinner?”

I never saw Bill’s bathroom, but in flashes like lightning strikes on my mind’s eye I saw the grime and soap scum and rust and mold that grew on and in and around his bathtub — and Fish-Fish inside, breathing, absorbing, embodying the filth within which he managed to hang on for seven long days.

I said “no” so fast it felt rehearsed. Maybe it was. Though for a split second I almost changed my mind. I’ll never forget the look of disappointment on Bill’s face. It was the ultimate rejection, as if he had just sacrificed his most prized lamb, and no one would join him in a celebratory feast.

That night, Bill and Dog-Dog dined alone, for which I am both grateful and regretful.

RIP Fish-Fish.

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