It all started at a random junk store. Somewhere between the electric flyswatters, the bootleg Snuggies, and the breakfast cereals based on movies that haven’t been in theaters since 2010, I found this:
An adorable tank, complete with a plastic palm tree. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but plastic palm trees of the pet shop variety are my ultimate weakness. Remembering my many long dead pets, I’m pretty certain that at least half of them were purchased merely for the excuse to get another plastic palm tree.
Combine that with the tank’s utterly fascinating price, and how could I leave that mildew market without it?
Problem was, I couldn’t use the tank for its intended purpose. I don’t know if it’s meant for hermit crabs, lizards or what, but I’ve become sensitive to the plight of “pet shop animals,” and that tank is way too small for… anything, really.
Eventually, I found a solution. And since I assume that a great many of you own small plastic tanks with built-in palm trees, I want you to pay close attention.
You can make your own animal to put in there. It won’t be alive, of course, but that’s sort of the point.
You can also make your animal more of a monster, which increases the allure of this activity by, oh, 40000%.
All pet tanks require gravel, except for the ones that don’t. Great sentence, there. I thought my tank should have gravel, at least.
Course, I didn’t have any gravel. Why would I have gravel? Gravel isn’t like vinegar or baking soda. It’s not something you just “have.” Fortunately, I didn’t need actual tank gravel, because the thing that will be living in there won’t be an actual animal.
I ended up using perler beads. I think that’s what they’re called, anyway. Since my biggest talent is the perpetual use of fucked up criteria, I chose them because they look like alien pastina.
The next step was creating a background for the tank. Since I was no longer limited to the various spins on “underwater weeds” that Petland sells, I seized the opportunity to make something more interesting. It’s a bunch of planets and stars and comets, floating in what was supposed to be an all-blue sky, but became a purple-blue sky when my first marker ran dry. A happy accident, for sure.
Then I needed to construct my animal. “Monster,” if you prefer. That was the hard part, and yeah, I guess I could’ve put a little more effort into him. It turns out that one’s affinity for Play-Doh runs hot and cold, and today, for whatever reason, I just wasn’t in the mood to touch it. Today, of all days!
Oh well, he still came out okay enough. His name is Multi-Use Wood Cleaner, because those were the first words I read when I looked to the side just now. (Thank you, random spray bottle.)
Multi-Use Wood Cleaner is a sketchy demon, with a prehensile tail that ends in an ivory club. Need to know more? I doubt you do.
I’ll pretend that you haven’t already skipped to the end to see how all of this came together.
Before I could assemble my monster tank, I needed to create a food source. After serious debate, I opted to fill an upside-down bottle cap with the remnants of a thirty-year-old package of gum. The pieces look like goofy moon rocks, and since Multi-Use Wood Cleaner appears to be from outer space, that was a perfect fit.
The end result was this gorgeous thing. A new pet in a hot tank that I will never have to put any effort into maintaining. At best, I’ll only need to reposition Multi-Use Wood Cleaner every few months, just to make him seem more alive.
If only I’d thought of this twenty years ago. There’s a sea of hamster ghosts and newt spirits who really wish I had.
Now I wanna go back to that junk store and buy every last tank in stock. I can build an army of bizarre specimens and pretend I’m the kid from Flight of the Navigator.
Don’t eat it all at once, Multi-Use Wood Cleaner. You’re never getting more.