Sameer, the Muslim betta fish

I’d like to introduce you to a new member of our family:

This is Sameer.

He is our Muslim betta fish.

“How,” you might ask “did you acquire such an attractive Muslim betta fish?”

Well, there’s a story to it, you see…

We’ve lived across the street from one of Lolly’s close friends Kadri for years now. Kadri is from Washington (and, true story, went to high school with Mackelmore) but her husband and his family are from Syria. They are Muslim, which basically means that playdates between their son Sabah and our Viva (who are the same age) often transform into complex religious explorations involving debates like “Is there, in fact, a Santa?” and “Will there be TV in heaven?” and “Is Allah the same as Heavenly Father?” as they swing together at the park.

Our favorite story was once, before we knew Kadri well, Sabah came over for a co-op preschool with several other kids in our LDS ward. During the course of the class, Sabah noticed a picture of Jesus on the wall and Lolly overheard him ask the other kids “Hey, who is that?” Lolly froze. She imagined Sabah going home afterward and saying “We learned about Jesus in preschool today!” and that Kadri might think we were using this preschool co-op as some kind of awkward, horribly deceptive proselyting attempt.

Just then, another boy chimed in. “That’s Jesus. He’s just a guy that goes to our church.”

Whew. And also: hilarious.

(Side note: Muslims have a great respect for Jesus, so we weren’t concerned that Jesus was being mentioned as much as that it might look like we were trying to indoctrinate under the guise of a “pre-school…”)

Sadly, Kadri and her family are moving because her husband finished grad school and has found a job in another state. We’re going to miss their family a lot! But the other day Kadri called with a question.

Kadri: Hey, do you think your girls would like to adopt our betta fish?

Lolly: Sure!

Kadri: You can change his name if you want.

Lolly: What’s his name?

Kadri: Well, it’s Sameer. Spelled S-a-m-e-e-r.

Lolly: We’ll totally keep his name!

Kadri: Okay, cool.

Lolly: And don’t worry. We’ll let him keep his religion as well.

Kadri: *laughs*

We figure it’s the right thing to do. Especially since Felix and Alex, our unisex (aka we don’t know their genders–in fact, they might even be gay) parakeets are Catholic. They hail from South America. Well, actually, they hail from a pet store, but we’re pretty sure they hail from South America originally.

They really, really love each other.

I think we can all agree that even though (and indeed, because) we come from a mixed-faith household, we all owe a debt of gratitude to this great nation of ours.

So the humans of our home, as well as Sameer the Muslim betta fish, and Felix and Alex the gay Catholic parakeets want to say:



  1. The blue parakeet is a boy. You can tell because the area above his beak is blue. If it's pink, you have a girl. Really.

    1. Weeder,
      Australia boasts an atypically high amount of atheist / undeclared religion budgies. You should probably read them Sam Harris before bedtime. Bonus if you can do it in an Australian accent.

  2. I used to have a betta fish who I swear originally came from the circus. He wasn't a fan of organized religion, just preferred to be called "christian". We respected that. Oh, his name was Marshall.

  3. Josh, I know this is not relevant to this specific post, but I want to thank you a lot. Through your blog I have found strength and myself really. One night I read your coming out post, and then I knew I had my own coming out to do. It was not in the same way you did, but it was something than ran a ragged course through my body frequently. Later that night I told my mother about something that had happened in my child hood that affected in a very large and awful way and several tear choked hours later I was no longer afraid and I felt very much loved and no longer alone. Thank you!

  4. I have three parakeets, Josh. All of them are female and let me tell you, when you put three females in a cage together, you get trouble. I just got home from camping for four days and found that they had decided to some molting and/or fussing while I was gone. Feathers and fluff all across the floor in my dining room where they're kept.

    Their names are Maisy, Skittles and Puff. I named none of them as they were sort of bequeathed to me by my oldest daughter when she got married to a man with a cat. Cats and birds, not a good mix. If my birds are lesbians, I do not know. They don't seem to engage in any sort of sexual bird behavior at all. Mostly, they just harass each other.

  5. Parakeets are from Australia. That's one of the places where people are listing their religion as 'jedi' on the census. The blue one is male. Your photo didn't show enough of the green one to guess. The colors of the female's nostril area is really tan more than pink. Even if the green one is female, you will only get eggs if you provide the birds with fresh sprouts and a small, dark nest box. Parakeets won't produce babies unless the conditions are favorable. It's quite clever of them–and makes life easier on humans.

  6. I kind of suspected that Felix and Alex were gay when we Bird Sat them for you a few years ago, but I didn't want to be the ones to "out" them. But now you have done it, on your public blog. I am pretty sure this post will be going viral.

  7. Can you move next door to me and just say funny things that make my day…every day? (If not, I guess I'll just keep reading your blog…)

    I give really great neighbor gifts at Christmas, if that helps sweeten the deal at all. 🙂

  8. I'm not sure if our fish are Mormon or Baptist. I'm sure they believe in complete immersion in the water, so I'm pretty sure they're not Catholic.

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