Posted by Danny
We’ve avoided animals like the plague in our family. Lisa grew up with a dog that had bad gas. I with a cat named Bunny who had an identity crisis. And one day when I was in about 9th grade, I got to see my first X rated event when Reagan, our neighbors tom cat, raped Bunny in our driveway. I did all I could but I just couldn’t stop him. She never was the same.
One trick Lisa discovered was to give a kid a token pet to appease them. Two started out with fish. Our second phase was to give them something they could hold – a hermit crab. We didn’t really have a phase 3.
DJ got her first when she was about six or seven. Stephanie followed several years later. This year, when shopping near Myrtle Beach, Michelle spotted an enormous cage filled with the nasty boogers. I bet there were 150 of them – climbing all over the place. One of them changing his shell so you could see his entire body – something I’d never encountered in my years as a crab owner.
I quickly acquiesced to her request hopeful that this would put off the dog conversation for another six to eight months.
All three girls decided they had to have one – but I was only bankrolling Michelle’s crustacean. The other two were on their own.
They stood and stared at the choices. It was overwhelming, like having to pick out your baby from a lineup of cribs.
These days, the store owners have folks paint the crab shells to make them more appealing to the prospective owners. Which to choose? They all seemed perfect in their own little way.
The one with a flower on its shell? How about Superman? The fuchsia with neon green stripes looks like a winner. Personally I liked Goliath – the largest one in the cage. His legs sprawling down the one limb that spanned the axis of the cage.
“That ones too big dad. His pinchers could really hurt.”
I went to the counter to ask who would open the container and fish out our choices.
The stout, grandmotherly checkout clerk informed me that the cage was not locked. “YOU get it out sir.” The implication was I ain’t sticking MY hand in there. I’ve seen what can happen.
“So I just open it and get the ones I want?”
They decided on their pick: for Stephanie the bright pink, DJ wanted Spiderman, and Michelle the one with the dainty pink flower. I mustered up my courage and wound my arm through the hole – watching Goliath with one eye and my own prey with the other.
Stephanie’s was wild – a poor choice she thought. “I’ve changed my mind daddy. I want a calmer one.”
“Me too,” DJ echoed. “Spiderman looks angry!”
“I don’t like mine either – I think he’s dead. Look, he’s just sitting there.”
I go in again. “Are you sure this is it?” The decision were made.
“They need extra shells, a sponge and plenty of food” my checkout friend informed.
Yeah, you’re all about helping now aren’t you? Clearly grandma was working on commission.
On the way out the door, each one made a last-minute swap. My patience and bravery were about to expire.
In the car Stephanie informed me that her crab and DJ’s were cuddling…or mating.
“Do they really…” DJ didn’t finish her sentence.
I was glad. I didn’t need to have that conversation with the grandparents in the car.