Monday, March 8, 2010

The Great Goldini™

I'm counting down the days until my daughter gets her driver's license.  The daughter that I was told twenty years ago that I would never have.  Between my medical history and my wife's, we had attempted to start a family for about eight years before we finally gave up.  It was very hard.  We managed to convince ourselves that we were cool with growing old together, alone.  We'd retire early.  We'd travel.  It would be fine.  Really.

Then I got a phone call at work that I will never forget.  Megan asked if I was sitting down, and shared the news that she was pregnant.  I was floored.  After that, it seemed like everything went my way.  I wanted a girl.  I got her.  I predicted she would have blue eyes and blonde hair.  Megan thought not.  Megan was wrong.  Don't get me wrong -- the pregnancy was very, very difficult.  So much so that Megan had to go on full bed rest at 22 weeks because she kept getting premature contractions.  After Olivia was born, we were advised most strongly by our obstetrician not to try this again.  But we both agree that all the hardship Megan endured those months was utterly, completely, totally worth it.

When Olivia was a baby, I used to use all kinds of things to lull her to sleep when she was fussy.  I became a master of the Daddy Jiggle -- that gentle tiny bouncing/rocking thing men do when holding a baby.  While doing the Jiggle I would talk to the baby about all kinds of things.  My day.  Television plot lines.  Recipes.  To this day, my mother-in-law still can't get over the time she walked in me trying to get the baby to sleep by telling her how to make Bernaise sauce.  And of course I made up stories.

One of the stories I made up was called "The Great Goldini."  It became one of her favorites, and I wound up telling variations of it to my girl for years.  When she was in elementary school Olivia told me I should publish it.  I did shop it to several publishers, but I never did get an agent and I never did make the sale.  I'm still pretty proud of it, though, and I therefore present it to you here for the first time -- enjoy!

"The Great Goldini"  © 1992 by Tom Hayes

Goldini should have been a perfectly happy goldfish.  And he would have been, too . . . if it hadn’t been for his dream.  For you see, Goldini dreamed of becoming -- The GREAT Goldini, The World’s Greatest Fish Magician!!!

Every day, Goldini would practice his magic act.  But he had a very hard time of it, because fish have a lot of trouble doing magic.  Since Goldini had fins, not hands, he couldn’t exactly make a nickel disappear and then pull it out of his friend’s ear.  (Especially since his friends didn’t really HAVE ears.)

Since Goldini lived in water, making things float was not exactly magical.

Card tricks were a disaster for Goldini, because the cards always got soggy before he could really do anything.

And causing a tiger (or ANY kind of cat!) to magically appear was, of course, COMPLETELY out of the question.  And that made Goldini quite sad, because making animals appear out of nothing was the trick that he wanted to perform most of all.

But there WERE some tricks that The Great Goldini could do very well indeed.  He could make a pebble disappear completely, after covering it with a Fish Flake.

He could make the flag on the castle in his bowl magically change color.

And (this was his best trick of all!) he could turn the seaweed into a beautiful bouquet of flowers, just by waving his fin.

One day, Goldini was practicing his magic act, changing the colors on the castle flag back and forth, when the most terrible thing happened.  He glanced up, out of the bowl, and into the most ferocious face he had ever seen!  THERE WAS A CAT IN THE LIVING ROOM!  And it was reaching into the bowl!

Goldini and his friends started swimming around the bowl furiously.  “What are we going to do?” they shouted to each other.  His friends made a dash for the little castle and tried to hide inside as best they could.  But there was no room in the castle for Goldini.

“I know,” thought Goldini, “I’ll use my magic!”  First he snatched up a Fish Flake, covered a pebble, and made it disappear.  The cat didn’t even notice.

Then Goldini changed the color of the castle flag, back and forth.  The cat stopped for just a second, but then it started reaching into the bowl again.

Finally, Goldini changed the seaweed into a beautiful little bouquet of roses!  This time the cat stopped, and blinked a few times.  But then it gave its head a little shake and once again it started reaching into the bowl with its sharp cat claws.

“What am I going to do?  What am I going to do?” thought Goldini, as he swam around the bowl, trying to stay away from the claws.  “The only tricks I have left are the ones that don’t work in a bowl of water!”

And that’s when Goldini got his great idea.  “If my tricks won’t work INSIDE the bowl,” he thought, “maybe -- just maybe -- I can work them OUTSIDE the bowl.”

Goldini swam behind the roses, took a deep breath of water, and began to concentrate.  He waved his fin, and suddenly the cat’s paw lifted up out of the water.  It lifted up out of the water because Goldini was making the cat float -- in the air!  The fish hiding in the castle applauded!

“I can’t keep that cat floating up there forever,” thought Goldini.  “What do I do now?”

Then Goldini got another great idea!  He began to concentrate again.  Then he waved BOTH of his fins.  The cat fell to the ground.  “Oh no!” said the fish in the castle.  “Goldini dropped the cat!  Now it’s going to come after us again!”

Instead, though, a truly amazing thing happened.  There was a flash, and a pop, and a big puff of smoke.  And just outside the bowl appeared the biggest, scariest, meanest-looking dog that the cat had ever seen!  The dog let out a tremendous yowl, and it chased that cat right out the door!

“I did it!” Goldini said.  “I actually did it!  I made an animal appear!”

“You did it!  You saved us!” shouted the other fish.  And they all began to applaud, and to cheer -- for The GREAT Goldini, The World’s Greatest Fish Magician!

THE END (or perhaps I should say, "FIN!")

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