The year must have been around 1979. I was about thirteen or fourteen years old. The local bazaar came around our area like it does every year and I went with a few of my friends in the neighborhood. They said it could not be done, but like a miracle out of thin air, I put a backspin on the ping pong ball. It glided through the air like a major league knuckleball, and landed with a plop in a small goldfish jar. Usually, the balls would just catch the rim of the jar and ricochet out like water beads hitting a windshield, but not this time. It just landed square in the water and stayed put.
"We gotta winna!" the booth master yelled, "That's the way ta do it! Step right up!" He poured the little goldfish in a plastic bag along with the water, tied it up neatly, and handed it to me.
I brought it home. My mom gave me a small pot to keep the goldfish in. I didn't know much about keeping fish then, but I was motivated. Very. I played with it every day. We would play games like how long could he hold his breath while outside of water. And my favorite, how long does it take for realization to hit that no matter how much you wave your fins, it doesn't do much good while I'm gripping your tail.
Strangest thing is that I didn't realize that I was actually harming him. I was just being a boy.
I think that was the last time I ever won anything at a carnival. People say it's bad karma.
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original pic by http://www.openup.com/glassandgarden/gs2.html