Chris Johnson

I think my fish is a crossdresser

Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. I mean, to each betta his own. Or her own. Or its own.

We got our new fish a couple of weeks ago. It's also known as a Siamese fighting fish, but I don't know any Siamese who need fighting, and I don't have anything against folks from Siam anyway.

My wife Shellie had been wanting another pet because her cat Sadie, who's about as cuddly as that little girl from the first "Exorcist" movie, gets kind of lonely around here sometimes. Of course, a lot of psychotic loner sociopathic kitties get lonely when they're not plotting their owners' deaths or when they're not jumping on the man of the house's head as he's sleeping at 4:30 a.m.

The last thing I wanted to do was get another psychotic cat to pounce on me in the middle of the night, and we don't have the time or patience to keep up with a dog right now, so we settled on a fish.

Fish are the perfect pets to me because they don't bark, poop on the sidewalk or throw up in the middle of the kitchen floor. If they do, you are raising your betta completely wrong.

It turns out that the only tough part of owning a betta is naming it. And that's because bettas are very pretty and have colorful flowing fins that look a lot like a boa you'd see wrapped around Liza Minelli, Lady GaGa or Richard Simmons. The problem is even the male bettas look like this. It's very similar to walking down Duval Street late at night in Key West.

At first, we came up with very girly names like Angelina, Jacqueline and Chaz, but we didn't want to give such a feminine name to a fish that could be male and much more comfortable as an Earl or Bubba. So we decided to scale it back a little. Ha! I said scale! I kill me.

We settled on Lola. Granted, Lola is still a bit of a chick name, but we think our betta might be a gay male. And we figure half the drag queens in Key West were probably named Lola, so that seems to be a fitting name for an ambiguous fish. In Key West, my wife told me to assume any pretty lady I saw was a male. At first, I thought she was just being jealous and catty, but after I saw a few pretty girls with Adam's apples, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Lola lives in a tank by himself/herself/itself, so I don't really care about Lola's sexual orientation. And even if we were to wake up and find Lola there with a goldfish of equally ambiguous orientation some morning, Joe Biden says it's nothing we should worry about.

Meanwhile, Sadie spends a lot of time with Lola these days, so I guess she's not lonely anymore. And I guess she's not hungry because she hasn't eaten Lola yet. "Yet" being the operative word there.

Sadie may just be amazed by the fact that Lola sits in water all day. She looks at Lola not so much with the hatred with which she looks at me but more the way she looks at us when we get out of the shower.

"Whoa! That water was like all over you!"

I just wonder if Sadie also jumps on Lola's head around 4 a.m. in the morning. Probably not a good thing to do to a Siamese fighting fish.

Chris Johnson is an independent correspondent. He can be reached at