Perspectives: Raising Elvis

September 21, 2018

Just recently we remodeled our kitchen. I know this is something of an extreme sport in Greenwich. But this was our first foray into this esoteric art, and I have to say, I was rather pleased with the outcome.

The walls are a very attractive “Paris rain,” and absolutely not a sludgy kind of greyish-green. Paris rain is clearly a more desirable brand of rain color than, say, “Detroit drizzle,” “Springfield showers,” or “Cleveland cats and dogs.” I like to think that as one is emptying the dishwasher one could be taking a walk along the banks of the Seine, the marble countertops misted in a fine rain like a Nicolas-Jean-Baptiste Raguenet painting, the bells of Notre Dame sounding somewhere near the refrigerator.

So imagine my horror when, into all this Parisian kitchen haute couture, a very large goldfish bowl — complete with bright pink plastic weed, a bubble machine, and its own interior lighting — appeared on the marble countertop. Monet would turn in his grave.

The fish bowl is home to Sapphire, a blue goldfish who to my mind looks a little bit like Elvis Presley. Sapphire, complete with a blue quaff, has sole occupancy of her splendid glass palace. Sapphire is also the beloved aquatic friend of my 10-year-old (and youngest daughter) Olivia. This summer marked the historic moment when both her older sisters departed for college, and into our greatly reduced household Sapphire arrived, complete with a treasure chest, a bejeweled sunken bridge, and her own plastic hammock!

In truth, I had been dreading the day when three sisters decreased to one. It was bad enough when my eldest went to college, but the thought of two empty bedrooms and two empty chairs at the kitchen table (a rather nice distressed grey oak that looks marvelous against the Paris rain walls) was painful. I pretended not to, but of course I was counting down the entire summer until the moment of doom actually happened: The two older girls exited, and the blue goldfish arrived.

But here is the thing. I love that ugly bowl. I love it because it is exactly the sort of home that a 10-year-old would delight in giving to a blue goldfish called Sapphire. I love it because in a month of Sundays it would never once have occurred to me, “What does our new kitchen need? I know — let’s get a giant, luminous goldfish bowl that looks as though a small piece of Las Vegas has landed in our kitchen next to the toaster! That’s exactly what we need!” I love it because Olivia loves it! I love it because every morning when I come downstairs and turn on the aqua-lights, start up the bubble machine, and see if Sapphire is asleep in her hammock (yes, she actually sleeps in the plastic green leaf hammock), I remember that I still have the joy of seeing life through the eyes of a fifth-grader.

We get another crack at this adventure called parenting, and I am going to do my best to embrace every single neon, bubbling, iridescent moment of it. I love that fishy snow-globe tribute to Times Square, because every morning it says to me, seize the day, take hold the present, take hold of the little hand that faithfully feeds this little blue Elvis fish and cherish, cherish, cherish every moment. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

The Rev. Drew Williams is the senior pastor of Trinity Church.

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