Today is a sad day for all of us. Today is one of those days where we’re forced to acknowledge our own mortality. Because is that not what we do when we lose a friend? Is that not what we do when we’re faced with death? Is that not what we do when life’s mysteries sneak up on us and give us a lesson in reality? Because death is real. Death is a fact of life.

But we’re not gathered here today to share our fears concerning death. Instead we’re here to celebrate the lives that we’ve had the pleasure to be a part of. For all the friends and family that have left us, it’s important to keep them locked tightly into our memories. For death doesn’t truly happen until we’re totally forgotten.

Which is why I’d like to take this opportunity to say a few words about my old friend Knuckles. In case you haven’t figured it out, Knuckles left us this weekend. Knuckles was my fish. Knuckles was my friend. Knuckles was my confidant, my advisor, my mentor, my fieldtrip buddy, my pen pal, my designated driver, my three-legged race partner, my swim teacher, my flying instructor, my movie stand-in, my copy editor, my bodyguard, my food taster, my phonecall screener, and my dentist.

I’ll never forget the first time Knuckles and I met. We were both in line to see the Spice Girls perform at the Rosemont Horizon here in Chicago when fate brought us together. As we waited in line to gain admission to the show, an unstable Spice Girl fan (also known as a Spice Rack), had been running through the crowd with a kerosene lantern yelling the words to “Who Do You Think You Are.” This fan was clearly high on some lethal combination of Dunkin’ Donuts’ espressos and Willy Wonka’s Fun Dip.


As she ran in circles holding her lantern high in the sky, she belted out the song’s lyrics as though she were the tone-deaf younger sister of Scary Space.

“Whoooooo-ooooooo-oooooo do you think you are?
Some kind of superstar.
You have got to swing it, shake it, move it, make it,
who do you think you are?
Trust it, use it, prove it, groove it,
show me how good you are,
Swing it, shake it, move it, make it,
who do you think you are?
Trust it, use it, prove it, groove it,
show me how good you are.

You have got to reach on up, never lose your soul,
You have got to reach on up, never lose control.”

Now this particular fan had gotten hung up on the last two lines and she just kept yelling them over and over and over as she swung this lantern over her head. Onlookers gathered as the Spice Rack spun faster and faster. It was clear that this scenario could only end badly. Anticipating something catastrophic happening, I stepped from the line and moved in the direction of the hopped up, spiraling, Girl Power fanatic. At that exact moment, Knuckles stepped forward as well, clearly thinking the same thing I was. We glanced at each other, acknowledging our respective awareness for the situation that was developing.

No sooner could we even look back to the Spice Rack, than the lantern flew from her hand, sailing through the air and coming to rest right on top of a covered wagon. Little did we know that the covered wagon belonged to former senate minority leader Trent Lott. It was at that moment that several questions flooded my mind. Why would a Republican choose to show up at a Spice Girls concert in a covered wagon? Since I don’t see any horses, how did Trent Lott get his covered wagon into the parking lot? Is Trent Lott alone in that covered wagon? Is it wrong only to refer to Trent Lott as a former senate minority leader when he was also a former senate majority leader? Did Trent Lott travel all the way from his home state of Mississippi in that covered wagon? And my final question was to wonder if he was part of a wagon train. And by “he” I’m  referring, of course, to Trent Lott.

Thankfully, the answer to my final query was provided in the form of a thunderous rumbling from the North parking lot. I turned to see a half-dozen covered wagons come screaming toward the fireball that was Trent Lott’s covered wagon. Quickly, they circled up. But by this time, however, Trent Lott’s covered wagon was covered in flames. The kerosene lantern had ignited one heck of a blaze.

Not taking time to think, Knuckles and I jumped into action. We quickly organized a water bucket line. In no time, the covered wagon fire was put out and order was restored to the parking lot. Trent Lott was alive and well, albeit a bit more tan. The Spice Rack disappeared into the night, however, not to be heard from again. Although there was an incident down at the maple syrup factory where they found a powdery, flavored sugar covered footprint. Police still have no leads to this day.

But it was from that moment forward that Knuckles and I realized we were kindred souls. We were two halves of the same person, just put into the form of two different species. The thought of moving forward without him leaves me heavy in the heart. Each day will be a test of my will to survive. To move on. To create new bonds and water bucket lines. I only pray for the strength to pull myself from bed each day.

As for the cause of Knuckles’s untimely death, the facts remain unclear, but an investigation is underway. What we do know at this time is that Knuckles was discovered by his live-in house keeper sometime in today’s early morning hours. He was alone at the time of being discovered, but it is unknown if he was alone at the time of his death. Police did find a large spatula and a bottle of tarter sauce on the scene. Foul play has not been ruled out.

Good bye, Knuckles, my old friend. You will be sorely missed!

August 2, 2006 – January 22, 2007

2 thoughts on “R.I.P. Knuckles the Fish

  1. OK, seriously, that’s sad. I’m so sorry about your pishy. Poor poor pishy. So young, too.
    Yeah, now I’m depressed. Maybe some sushi would help….

  2. I came to this website seeking solace from the grief caused by the email from my sister announcing the demise of Augutus the fish. Now I also have been made sorrowful over the fishi, knuckles, augustus & my long dead Betty the Beta. May they rest in chinese mustard…I mean…may they unite with sticky forbidden rice…i mean…I mean may they rest in peas.

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