Monday, August 22, 2011

Bernard the Brave Blue Betta

This post is an ode to an unexpectedly heroic fish named Bernard. 

We sell fish TVs where I work.  These are basically wooden cases that have cut-out openings in the front, so that when you set your fish bowl inside, it looks like you're watching your fish in a TV.  A few weeks ago, we decided to display one of these on the front counter with a real betta fish inside.  That's when we adopted Bernard.

Bernard's name has a rather complex history.  I wanted a B name because he was a betta.  Then I purposely picked out a blue betta so that there would be even more B alliteration.  Finally, we found "Bernard" in our index of name cards, and noticed that it also meant "brave."  Thus, our new fish became Bernard the Brave Blue Betta.

At first, I had doubts about the moniker we'd chosen for our mascot-fish.  Bernard did not seem very brave, or even very outgoing.  He spent most of his time slumped toward the bottom of his tank, faintly flapping his fins.  One night, when the store was very quiet, my boss Denise honestly thought Bernard had died.  But no, he was merely taking a nap.  He was still a likable little fish; he had a kind of easy grace about him.

This was one of Bernard's more social moments.

Denise announced the addition of Bernard to our store family by posting this message on our Facebook:

I want to introduce the newest toy specialist - Bernard the Brave! Bernard will not acknowledge your presence unless you bang on the counter. Bernard will NEVER walk around the store or demonstrate products. So Bernard will never get paid except in small crumbs of food… Come and welcome Bernard to our family!

Then one night, when he had barely been with us a week, while the store was dark and deserted, Bernard surprised us all.  In an uncharacteristic burst of activity, he leapt out of his fish TV.  This tiny, lethargic fish somehow managed to propel himself several inches into the air and clear the top of his bowl entirely.  Perhaps he was trying to catch a gnat flying overhead.  Maybe he wanted to know what adventures awaited him out there in the big, wide world.

In any case, Bernard discovered the only thing awaiting him in the big, wide world was the icy hand of death.  Denise found him on the counter the next morning, and he had long since gone to the big fishbowl in the sky.  She did some research, and it turns out bettas will sometimes jump.  Our new betta, Charles, now gets a protective piece of cardboard laid over 3/4 of his bowl when we leave at night to prevent a similar incident.  If only we had known, Bernard… if only we had known.

I was out of town visiting family when Bernard's tragedy struck.  Denise sent me the following Facebook message to break the news:

Bernard the Brave Blue Betta has released himself from the bondage of his tank in a TV!  But alas, he forgot to take his water with him. He made it a courageous few inches before collapsing under the weight of his decision. I am sorry for the loss of our friend but respect his decision to live and die on his own terms. RIP Bernard. 08-09-2011

Rest in peace, Bernard.  You were brave after all… just not very good at planning.


  1. Poor Bernard. I think he's actually excellent at planning and he committed Beta suicide because you and your cool friends were always making fun of him.

  2. You're right, Mary! What have we done?! I see the error of my ways now!

  3. Hello Haley,

    My sweet lil betta, FREE WILLY, passed on/crossed over today....

    I couldn't find a picture that I took of him so I was searching for a picture to honor him (RIP) on my FaceBook and your awesome cartoon art of Bernard popped up in Google images! I LOVE your website - how truly creative, your name, your art, your wit......wonderful job!

    I would like to borrow/use just the one picture of Bernard leaping in the air that says "FREE" to post on my FaceBook with credit to you as the artist and a note about your cool website - - would this be acceptable to you?

    Keep up the great work and I look forward to enjoying more of your work here :))