Personal Essays

Lobsters and Me

imagesAs is our phone custom, my beloved Aunt Molly and I were catching up on nothing important, when her doorbell rang and her neighbor dropped off two lobsters, fresh off the boat.

“Two lobsters?” I said. “Are you having someone for dinner?”

“No,” she replied. “I’ll cook them both, eat one of them tonight, and then the other tomorrow.”

“In a sandwich?”

“Yes, that is the best part. Lobster sandwich.”

“Really?” I said. “So you like the sandwich better than the at-the-table-dripping-in-butter part?”


My aunt and often I tackle major issues on the phone, but this conversation really led to some deep lobster consideration, which then led me to the realization that I’m lobster confused.

Can we talk about lobsters honestly? I want to like eating lobster, and I love the idea of eating lobsters, drenched in butter on a picnic table outside, with a perfect setting sun in the sky, a slight chill in the air, and not a bug to be seen. But the truth is, the best part of the entire thing is not the meat itself, but the breaking of the shells and the hammering of something at a dinner table. Only with lobsters can you do that and not be considered barbaric. So, do I like the taste of lobster, or the lobster process?

Then there is the lobster trading. I’m a great lobster partner. I really only like the claws, and a trade of the tail for a claw (or sometimes two claws if I negotiate well) usually makes me the most popular person at the table. But I’m not even sure that I do like the claws better than the tail. Maybe I just like to be the most popular person at the table, with the tail as a commodity to trade to the highest claw bidder. Or maybe I just like the more complicated process of getting the meat out of the claws better than I like the cut-and-pull-out-process of the tail extraction. It’s so confusing.

Then there is the butter thing. To be honest, I don’t like the look or the feel of melted butter. It’s actually gross. Butter dripping on your chin? Not pretty. Seriously.

Maybe I love the memories of going with Aunt Molly to check her lobster pots in Maine and Manchester and never knowing what would be in the pots when we pulled them up? Maybe sitting outside eating the suckers takes me back to my teen years, which were certainly less complicated for me than my adult life turned out to be. No cell phone on our little boat, which had a hand-maneuvered outboard motor on the back of it. Those were easy times. So maybe that is why I pretend to like lobster.

Enough about the lobster. I get it. But when you realize that you don’t know if you really like something you always thought you liked, it’s fair to put it out there for consideration. For those of you who thought you were sure about lobsters, and now have to explore the actuality of it … sorry. Sort of.

One reply on “Lobsters and Me”

You and I would have a Mexican standoff. I, too, only like the claws. And I do have to say, I love butter dripping down my chin. I’ve always claimed that lobsters are just a vehicle for butter!

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