Author's Note: Now that the show is over, I'd thought I'd take a look at what Gail thought of being in the White House and her take on certain events. This will be a mutli-chapter story and I hope to be able to update weekly. As always, I don't own anything associated with the West Wing. Reviews are appreciated and encouraged!
Most people wouldn't believe that life in a fishbowl is glamorous. In fact, I bet some would think it was slightly intrusive with everyone watching your every move. I suppose my life is not unlike that of my owner, but I'm getting ahead of myself. I should probably start at the beginning.
I was a mere babe when I felt the net dive into the large tank and scoop me up and into a plastic bag. Many people think that goldfish have no long term memory and some don't, but I remember things. My mother used to say I had the memory of an elephant. How she would know the memory of an elephant is beyond me, but she'd always tell me that.
The first clear memory I have of him is his eyes peering at me through the plastic bag. He had orange hair that wasn't quite as colorful as me, but it was nice. It reminded me of my relatives. I felt a little sick because of all the jostling around, but the feeling eventually passed and he looked at me with wide, happy eyes when he told the clerk I was perfect.
"Does she have a name?" he asked the clerk.
"I'm not even sure it's a 'she' buddy," he replied.
"Let's assume she is," he replied. "You think Gail is a good name?"
"Gail the goldfish?" the clerk replied with a smirk.
"Sure, Gail the goldfish it is," the clerk said apathetically.
That was the first time I'd heard the name Gail and apparently, it was my name now. The man with the goatee and shaggy hair picked up my bag and another bag, which I hoped contained a larger bowl and we left the store. He set me down on a very nice seat and the movement began again. He talked to me on the way and he seemed a little apprehensive if I had to put an emotion on it.
"You're going to be a little surprise for someone very special," he told me. "I'm a little nervous about her reaction because I'm not even really sure we're at the goldfish stage yet. Not that every relationship has a goldfish stage. Who knows?"
He paused for a moment and turned the radio on. It seemed to calm him for a few minutes until he started babbling again.
"You're a good gift right?" he said to himself as much as to me. "Josh said she likes goldfish and you're a fine looking goldfish if I do say so myself, Gail."
I gave my tail a swish upon his compliment and he glanced down at my bag.
"I'm sure you're hoping for better digs," he continued. "Don't worry though, we're almost there and I'll get you all set up in a real home. I bought you a nice bowl all for yourself. I got the high end food too. You're gonna be all set. CJ will hopefully love you, which will be really good for me and really good for you too."
CJ. Finally someone had a name beside me. Two simple letters was a name? Personally I found Gail to be much classier, but it was clear that the man who bought me was quite smitten with this CJ character. I hoped she liked me as much as he thought she would.
I took a moment to compose myself as we drove along. I could see why this man was nervous. There was a lot of pressure associated with being a gift. I'd seen too many fish returned to the tank after an owner decided they weren't wanted. Some of those that came back had horror stories about something called a toilet and I knew that above anything else I didn't want to end up there.
The man picked me up again and walked me into a huge building. I couldn't believe this was a house. Whoever this CJ lady was, she certainly was well off. Not bad prospects for a fish from lower D.C. We made our way inside, which was apparently hard because the man needed to juggle me back and forth while he searched for a badge of some sort.
When we finally made it inside he placed me on a very messy desk until he finally picked up the bag I was in and opened it. I will say that it felt pretty good. I never thought I was claustrophobic until this trip.
"Okay, brace yourself Gail," he said as he tipped the contents of my bag into a new bowl.
It took me a moment to regain my bearings until I dashed from the left to right a few times. He was right. The new fishbowl was quite large and all mine. He sprinkled a few fingers of food into my bowl, which I gratefully accepted after the long journey.
"Hey, that's all this?" a dark-haired woman asked.
"A present," he answered.
"For who?" she asked with a sly grin. It was almost as if she already knew who I was for.
"She in her office?" he asked ignoring her question.
"Reading today's Post," the dark-haired woman told him. "You didn't write anything inflammatory did you?"
"Carol, would I do something like that?" he asked with an impish smile.
"Yes," she replied confidently.
"Yeah, I would," he sighed. "But not today."
"Today you come bearing fish," Carol said seriously.
"Something like that," Danny said. "So she's in?"
"All by her lonesome," Carol said glancing into my bowl before walking away with a grin on her face.
"You ready Gail?" he asked me peering into my bowl. "It's show time."
We made our way down a hallway and made a few turns until I was completely lost. He finally approached a doorway and I knew it was CJ's because he slowed down and took a breath before entering. He crept slowly into the room and she looked up. I finally got a good look at her.
She sat looking at something and she wore glasses, which made her eyes look huge through the reflection of my bowl. She looked puzzled at first and then when the man told her I was a gift she burst out with a guttural laugh that at first startled me, but then I found it endearing and I could tell why he liked her so much. Her laugh was what I can only associate with the feeling of pure joy.
They conversed for a while, but I was too bust sizing up CJ to really pay attention much. She'd taken her glasses off and she was still chuckling over something, but she smiled brightly at the man holding my bowl. I could tell that she liked him just as much as he liked her, though I suspected she hadn't admitted it to anyone yet. I finally decided to pay closer attention to the conversation after a moment.
"The crackers Danny," she chuckled.
Danny. So the man had a name. Danny bought me as a gift for CJ. I swam in a slow circle and gauged his reaction to her laugh. He didn't look pleased. My nerves got the better of me and I missed part of the conversation, but I eventually picked it up again.
"You named her Gail?" she asked amused.
"The guy at the store did," he protested.
"Liar," I thought with a giggle. I guess it's not manly to name a fish.
I tried to figure out if CJ was pleased with me or not, but I couldn't tell. I looked at Danny and he looked slightly hurt to be honest and he pulled my bowl toward him protectively. I had a sudden feeling of panic. Where were we going? Was I not a good gift? Did I not look like a good fish?
Very quickly my fears were put to rest when CJ reached out and grabbed the bowl from Danny.
"You'll kill it," I heard her say.
Kill it? Kill me? 'Please leave me here!' I wanted to shout.
Danny gave my bowl over to CJ and she placed me on the desk while she still chuckled slightly. I tried to calm down and swim slowly around my bowl. I wanted to get a good look at my new surroundings, but I couldn't help but glance up. I guess they'd cleared things up because CJ was talking again.
"Come here," CJ said leaning in.
Danny leaned toward her and she gave him a light, though somewhat lingering, kiss on the cheek. She pulled back and smiled and I quickly turned to see is reaction. A kiss had to have been what he'd hoped for by buying me, right?
Danny looked a little shell-shocked. It was like he hadn't expected the kiss as a thank you. I felt happy for him as he walked out of the office. CJ stood there for a moment with her hands on her hips and then she looked down at my bowl.
I made sure I put on a show of my swimming ability and gracefully cut through the water. She sat down and watched me swim for a while with a chuckle and grin on her face, which made me feel like I'd served a greater purpose. Eventually she was called away by an overwrought man with a dark beard, but I didn't care, she liked me. I could just tell. When she left I swam slowly and got used to my new surrounding. I could definitely learn to like this.