When I was growing up, there was no trinket in my grandparents’ house more coveted – at least by me, I can’t speak for the other grandkids – than a dead piranha encased in a plastic box. I think they must have picked it up in Venezuela, but for the life of me, I don’t recall them actually GOING to Venezuela and it seems like that would be decidedly off the beaten track of places they usually went. I say this because I don’t really recall them going anywhere more exotic than Hawaii and in their later years, they took their gigantic motor home wherever they went and while it is theoretically possible to drive to Venezuela, I’m thinking that didn’t happen.
Anyway, I was always fascinated by it. Of course, their man-eating talents, however overstated they might be, had my rapt attention. I remember asking my grandma if I could borrow it and take it to show and tell. I was probably in 2nd grade and thankfully, I was allowed my my grandma to take it home with me upon leaving their house after a visit. I don’t recall anything about taking it to school except the fact that it was wrapped in a paper towel inside my book bag. When I brought it home from school, it was in my book bag along with a papier-mâché mask I made in art class that was painted with orange-red tempra paint. Tempra paint dust got all over the paper towel surrounding the plastic-encased piranha and I thought I had ruined it. Fortunately, it washed off pretty well.
When my grandparents moved out of their farmhouse and into assisted living several years ago, the piranha was one of three things I wanted from their house – the others being their coffee mug with a picture of a T. Rex on it and their set of World Book Year Books from the mid 60s through the early 70s. I was fortunate enough to get all three.
It sits proudly on my shelf and whenever I see it, I think of my grandparents, of whom I have many fond memories. Naturally, it also makes me think of Piranha-3D. Rather oddbedfellows don’t you think? My own daughter is fairly unimpressed by the fish. I don’t think she’s ever even shown interest in taking it to school.