A Morning by the Lobster Tank

Do you know what is one of the coolest looking creatures on planet earth? The Lobster. Lobsters are pretty frakking cool (as well as delicious, but I digress). I had forgotten just how bizarre they look. The shells, the claws, the antennae! To think, I had to be reminded of these crazy crustaceans that seem to fall right out of a 1930’s pulp sci-fi series by a three year old. Here’s a play-by-play.
I am going about my weekly grocery shopping when I pass a gentleman and his young son. All I hear from the boy is “Dad, I don’t think the lobsters are in their tank.” He sounds a little sorrowful, and is shuffling in his pint-sized crocs staring at the tiled floor. His father guides him along with a “Well, let’s take a look.” I keep eaves dropping because that’s what I do in grocery stores. If you’re near me and words are coming out of your mouth, I’m probably invading the privacy of your conversation with my ears. I’m sorry but grocery stores are only so interesting. (Just be glad I’m not trying to improvise the other half of your phone conversation because I can see you talking into your Bluetooth in the deli line).
Here I am checking the market price on black beans and taking my sweet time because I am hooked. Are the lobsters in the tank? So I wait. I hear the kid’s feet shuffle on tile. I pick up another can of beans to read because I’m making chili tonight and I feel invested in this kid’s anticipation. Finally, before store security gets a report about an unshaven man in faded cargo shorts who’s lingering near the organic canned foods and seems to be following a father and son, I hear the kid shout “Dad, the lobsters are in the tank! The lobsters! They’re in the tank!”
Because he’s a good father and isn’t inclined to say to his child “No shit, kid,” even though he most likely noticed the occupied tank three yards earlier, I hear him say “Oh wow, they are!” At this point, I need visual confirmation myself. I look over my shoulder and the kid is almost pressed up against the tank, which puts him on eye level with these beaded eyed shellfish. No joke, the kid might as well be at sea world for all he cares. He’s at discount aquarium with his dad. The joy and fascination springing out of this kid was infectious.
I resisted the urge to go look at the tank myself. (I also had a small breakfast and didn’t want to risk bringing home a $12.00/lb brunch). The boy was very vocal. Every few seconds there was another “Woah…” or “Did you see?” And all of sudden, I was walking through a different grocery store three states east with my mom and dad, looking at a lobster tank, on my own discount aquarium trip. It was small grocery store in my hometown that I could walk to from my house. Across the street from a liquor store-turned-Chinese buffet. In the time I grew up there, the space had been occupied by three different grocers, in fact. And the lobster tank was always on the customer’s left as he or she walked through the automatic doors. It was a huge tank. Maybe it’s because I was young and everything seems bigger when you’re four, but I swear the lobster tanks I see now are tiny. This one in my home town should’ve charged admission. At age three, or even five or six, lobsters were fascinating!
And then they became common place. Of course my new grocery store has a lobster tank with a dozen lobsters in it. It’s a grocery store. And the lobsters lost their mystery, their wonder, their awesomeness. I spend more time trying to avoid looking at them because I can’t afford a lobster bake rather than watching these bizarre, armored and clawed, pint-sized sea monsters. Seriously, write down a description of a lobster without using the designation “lobster,” and tell me you didn’t just describe a Phoenician sailor’s nightmare.
What else would blow my mind if I saw it like that kid at the lobster tank? Where else would I rush to get a look at the seemingly common place?

show a friend

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *