Since my intention to stir debate and ignite discussion has apparently occurred from my past couple of articles, I thought I would try and be little more light-hearted this week, especially with today being Valentine’s Day. For those of you lucky enough to have a significant other who enjoys the hobby with you, you probably have no idea what I am talking about. But for those of us who have or had someone who doesn’t appreciate the hobby, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Of course I am referring to the little white lies we sometimes tell them in order to try and keep the peace, or more likely keep us sleeping in the same room.
I know none of us ever planned or even thought that at some point the hobby would turn us into fibbers, but self-preservation is something that should not be taken lightly. After continued questioning, prying and accusations those of us in the hobby long enough know that at some point we will need to lie about the hobby to the one we love. It’s sad, but those of us that have done it long enough know it is a sacrifice necessary to keep not only the peace but also our sanity.
The first of these, and the one who anyone who has been in the hobby long enough has said: “this tank is the last tank I will ever need”. Sadly we all feel that way no matter how big this tank is, and I think we all actually believe it when we look at the tank empty. Whether it is a 50 or a 500 gallon tank, all tanks empty look like we will never be able to fill them. Sadly despite our best intentions, we do, and quickly too. And as a result our beautiful fish and corals quickly run out of room and we can’t make them suffer, so we convince our love that we need to go bigger for the sake of the fish and corals. It was never our intention, but we were too successful for our own good. In my own case I started with a 55, then a 120, then a 240, followed by a 580 and finally a 1200 gallon tank. With each tank I kept telling her that each one was the last tank I would ever need. Sadly the 1200 actually was, as that is what she said was the4 last straw. So unfortunately I learned the hard way that this is not a lie that can go on indefinitely.
The similar lie that we all use is “I don’t know what that cost”. Most of our significant others know the hobby is expensive, but few can probably fathom that some of us are willing to pay ridiculous sums for tiny frags or other expensive things for the hobby. So in order to keep from having to pay $500 for a pair of shoes in a sense of fair play, that we don’t fully understand the value of, we downplay or devalue the cost of what we’ve bought. I’m not saying this is justified, but I know of many a household that has remained intact and financially viable due to one person not knowing the cost of a chalice frag. I even know of a couple of individuals who had fake invoices and receipts made up when they bought something so that they did not have to divulge the full price of some of the things they’ve bought. I’m not condoning it, but I do understand it.
A companion lie to this occurs when our companion asks when we got something. “When did you get that? I’ve never seen it before. This typically leads to the response: “that (mermaid or whatever), has been in the tank forever, it just morphed into that color or it was small before and grew into that”. In this instance we are relying on our loved one not really paying attention to what we have put into our tanks. In my own experience I have found that the interest in what I put into the tank typically increased when she was looking to buy something big or extravagant. So if you are like me, you use this one in order not to spend double on what you had purchased. I learned this the hard way in that when I was planning my 1200 she worked on estimating the cost and as a result used the cost against me to get a new car for herself. I know it would have been hard to say the 1200 had been there forever, but I should have used one of the other lies many of us have used.
This lie could have saved me a lot had I thought of it sooner: “You know how I told you that the tank was going to make us money? Well I traded in a bunch of frags and corals and that’s what paid for this tank”. I know this can be considered a whopper rather than a white lie since it is a twofer, but in this instance it can possibly help save a relationship. I really think that many of us actually believe that when we buy an expensive frag or move to a larger tank eventually we actually will make money selling frags or at the very least break even. Unfortunately we still have to lie about it. Oh, and for most of us, it’s not going to happen.
The next lie is one I want to tell you all not to make as it is one for if it comes to happen you will lose all trust from your other. The lie comes about when you are asked a simple question: ”will this thing leak or will you get water on my carpet”. Don’t lie and tell them “no of course not, it’s a self-contained unit, there’s no way it can leak”. If you tell this lie the first time there is a spill of even a tiny amount of water anywhere on the floor, all trust will be lost. Instead say “I’ve done all I can and taken every precaution so I don’t think so”. It is far better to have them worried a little than to lose their trust and have them say I told you so forever. And they will remember when you’ve ruined their carpeting, or wood floor or classic Persian rug forever, believe me. 29 years ago my then 55-gallon tank lost the siphon on the overflow and flooded the floor below me with what then seemed like an epic flood of 5 gallons of water, and to this day I still hear about it from my aunt who lived in the apartment below ours and who now is 97 years old. So don’t make this pre-emptive lie as it will come back to haunt you.
The last common lie that we all make, can actually be a good one as unlike the rest, our significant other actually gets something in the deal. In this instance I’m talking about the “of course I would love to go (shopping, to your cousin’s wedding, to a weekend in the city, etc.)”. These are lies because the main reason we are willing to go is there is a fish shop near the store, or a frag swap or show near the wedding or we would love to show off our spouse to the crowd at our favorite fish venue. Sadly I have found that agreeing to do this while having a secret agenda only works a few times. Soon they catch on and say “no bringing the extra cooler and no fish stops”. So if you are going to use it, save it for big things: like “hey don’t you think it would be cool to visit Washington D.C on Labor Day weekend, I’m sure no one will be there?”
Hopefully you see that these are all little white lies to keep the peace. And while our hobby and watching our tanks should be relaxing, sometimes we need to say things we regret to keep it relaxing. So buy her some fish or coral shaped chocolates and enjoy the day with your significant other.