Tom With Crabs

There’s nothing better than good friends. But if there was, it would be good friends with a boat and a beach house. Our good friends Margie and Tom invited us to the coast for a combination fishing/crabbing expedition, which meant there was something for everybody.  I love to fish, and Dave loves to crab. Fishing is wonderful. You can fish all day long without ever having to come into contact with anything slimy that needs to be slain and gutted. There you are with your pole in your hand, trolling along in the rain, knowing that at any moment something exciting might happen, or not. Just like life, and I like life. Many people, including Dave, profess to be bored by holding a motionless fishing pole for hours on end, but they do not properly appreciate anticipation. Which is the best part of Christmas, after all.

You can leave the pole in the pole-holder, and then react when it does, but I always hang onto mine. I want to feel it at the very moment it snags up against a huge log and must be battled back up to the surface, covered in weeds and debris. Just like life.

The agenda was to put in seven crab-pots first thing in the morning as the tide comes in, then fish for a few hours until it’s time to pick up the pots. Dave loves picking up the pots. He likes nothing better than to reel up a pot heavy enough to engage the stomach muscles, haul it aboard, and begin sorting through a frightening melee of crustaceans that might, at any time, separate him from his thumb. It’s like sticking your hand into a vat of knives. What fun!

Crabs themselves are pointy and malevolent and capable of great self-expression when faced with the proposition of a short ride in a bucket. They appear rigid, but they are nevertheless capable of hinging themselves backwards if held from the rear and signing autographs with your blood. Dave plunges in without fear and without gloves, although he does keep his crotch out of range. In an instant the boat is filled with scuttling prehistoric meat-eaters in search of fresh toes. Myself, I prefer my food more apathetic.

I also do not eat much crab. It’s sweet and delicious, not revolting like something in the Sea-Loogie family (oysters, clams, etc.), but I overdid it one day just before a long ride in the back seat of a rhythmically rolling old-model Pontiac, and struggled not to go all Jackson Pollock on the floor-mats. It has affected my crab consumption ever since. I feel the same way about Scotch.

In general I question the wisdom of going to all that trouble to eat something with sci-fi monster mouth-parts that you’ve pulled off the bay bottom after luring it with rotten chicken. Dave is unmoved by this and unfazed by the prospect of tossing them into a vat of boiling water. He is very comfortable in his position near the top of the food chain.

I was comfortable with the previous several hours spent not catching a twenty-pound–my mistake, it was fifty, easy–Chinook salmon that would have to be dispatched in some way and relieved of its unattractive innards. Left to my own devices, I would be a stellar vegetarian. It’s my good fortune to have been born in a time when someone else does the distasteful stuff, and yet there’s still pigs.