Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Everybody should have at least one party trick. Mine is to show people that lobsters have teeth. I don’t often get to show off my trick. After all, how often does a person eat lobsters with people to whom this has not already been demonstrated?
One summer, we were invited to dinner with friends who had family visiting them. Our friends served lobster. Ordinarily, I don’t like eating lobster with strangers because I like to splash around in it. Pulling and cracking apart a ‘bug’ is messy business. Juice, bits of meat and shell invariably fly all over the place. Additionally, I like to suck the hot broth from the claws which even by most lobster consumers' standards is gauche. I pick the body apart scavenging every morsel which is also vulgar and at the least, tedious for the other diners. Julia Roberts, in the scene from Pretty Woman when she flings an escargot across the room, has nothing on me.
But, this was a special event, so I just had to be on my best behavior, even if that meant not savoring every crumb. As if this wasn’t enough of a sacrifice for me to make, God was clearly punishing me. I was seated between a stone-deaf aunt and a sullen, twelve-year-old boy. I was polite to the aged aunt, but I admit I gave up quickly. I asked the boy if he had eaten lobster before. Not bothering to look at me, he mumbled, “Yup. Twelve times.” I should have recognized this cue to shut up, but I didn’t. I asked the ill-mannered sulker if he knew they had teeth. “Nope.” He continued working at his Homerus americanus. I could see plainly he did not know what he was doing, either. I was smart enough to leave that alone; a twelve-year-old boy’s ego is not a thing to mess with. He tossed an entire tail into the discard bucket. Like an idiot, I asked, “Do you want to see where the teeth are?” “Nope.” NO? No one, not man nor beast, has ever said no to that question. Not ever.
I suddenly realized that I was seated next to the Anti-Christ! What kind of twelve-year-old male child isn’t interested in that? A cat-killing, ax-murderer of tomorrow, a creature with no interest nor regard for any other living thing, that’s who! I know my assessment sounds harsh, even preposterous in the context of tearing apart lobster, but he was raised by parents, not wolves. And, they were therapists. It was my father who taught me love for the natural world. He taught me about lobsters’ habits and their teeth. Even he had a party trick and was gracious enough to pass it on to his children. I can only hope that the child was momentarily channeling the essential being of his lobster dinner. Lobsters are after all, cold carnivorous beings that will eat their own children.
So, I know you’re dying to know: where are the teeth? Split the stomach apart and therein are three hard teeth. The detail is usually missed, as the stomach is not edible.
This lobster had eaten lobster itself shortly before capture; you can see the shell pieces.