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July 17, 2013

The Lady And The Crustacean


Hey, I enjoy a good lobster as much as the next guy.

I think most people are like me – I cut up the tail, dip the pieces in steaming butter and eat it, then do the same thing with the two big claws. Then, I take the hot towel and wipe my fingers and face and I'm done (Ok, sometimes I blow my nose if the restaurant isn't too crowded).

The best place to eat lobsters is at a restaurant, because making them at home can be a messy affair. Before Karen developed an allergy to them we'd order them already cooked from the fish store, eat them right from the box they came in, then dump everything into a big plastic bag and throw all the evidence out – this is because Karen has also developed an allergy to washing dishes.

When eating lobster in a restaurant, I think certain rules of decorum should apply. Hey, if you are in the privacy of your own home and want to get physical with the carcass of that poor, dead crustacean go for it. But, I beg you, please don't wrestle with the damn thing in a public place.

Such was the case the other night when I ventured out for lobster. The woman next to me, unfortunately, also ordered it. They brought me a bib – they should have brought her a hazmat suit. They brought me a hot hand towel — they should have rolled out a bathtub for this lady.

That's because she wasn't content to merely eat the meat. No, she was going to have her way with the thing. It was too painful to watch, but diverting one's eyes couldn't possibly muffle the grunts and groans of pleasure this lady was making.

Remember the Tom Hanks movie Cast Away? It may have been the worst movie I almost sat through. Besides using an ice skate to extract a tooth and having a meaningful relationship with a volleyball, Hanks ate a live crab, the green slime and guts dribbling down his face and chest. Now multiply the grossness of that exponentially – and you have the lady next to me.

She was sucking and slurping the very sacred innards of this crustacean, green and red slime oozing from the lifeless carcass and onto her face, chin, neck, and clothes. Her eyes were closed as if indulging in some satanic ritual, with me as the unwilling witness. Let me put it to you this way – when the waiter asked if I wanted another drink I ordered a Pepto-Bismol.

People are funny. We think of most crustaceans as delicacies, while the thought of eating certain rodents sickens us. Yet lobsters are known as sea-rats, scavengers that troll the sea bottom looking for scraps.

When I lived in New Orleans crawfish was the big thing. They look suspiciously like lobsters only smaller and uglier. When I first moved there my hosts gave me some sage advice -- "eat the tail and suck the head." I found out later they were talking about crawfish. Whew! I was beginning to think I wasn't going to enjoy living down there very much.

Crustaceans – anthropoids – include lobsters, crawfish, and shrimp, all of which we pay top dollar to eat. But how many of us know barnacles, fish lice and tongue worms are related species? Why can't we get those things at the fancy restaurant?

"Excuse me, waiter, what is included on the broiled fisherman's platter special this evening?"

"Sir, we have some wonderful rhizocephala, myriapods and chelicerates, served in a butter and white wine sauce."

"Yeah, but does it come with soup and salad?"

This lady next to me with the lobster must have spent two hours dissecting that thing. She surgically explored every nook and cranny. At one point she wiped her brow with the very hand that was handling the greenish stuff, sending a wave of matter directly at me. I had to duck out of the way to avoid being slimed.

When she finally finished I envisioned a team of scientists, dressed from head to toe in white and wearing masks, to come spray her, trying to sanitize the restaurant against some deadly bacterial strain. Instead, the waiter calmly came over – yes, his nostrils were elevated in the hope the noxious odor would waft away from him – and handed her a dessert menu. He picked up her hot towel – I would have used a doggie bag – and, holding it gingerly in his fingertips, tip-toed away from her.

She eventually ordered pie with two scoops of ice cream and extra whipped cream. I was going to suggest they bring her a shovel instead of a fork but I held my tongue.

That night, visibly shaken, I dreamed giant Lobster People rose from the depths of the sea to exact their revenge on humans. They were joined in the attack by Jumbo Shrimp.

  1. print email
    rick's space: the lady and the crustacean
    July 19, 2013 | 09:08 AM

    you were so out of line with your comments on this. when i eat crustaceans (my favorite being dungeness crab), i enjoy every part of it! when i'm eating crab/lobster, i savor every part of it. if you can't handle someone enjoying themselves, doing the same, THEN LEAVE THE RESTAURANT!

    diane
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