The restaurant where we chose to celebrate a late Valentine’s Day bustled with patrons lining up for the Dungeness crab and overpriced salads. Seated in the very center of the patio at a sliver of a table, Mike and I could enjoy the comings-and-goings of the street culture while we gabbed. Pedestrians of all varieties checked out the local nightlife as they passed by, which in the downtown area served as its own form of entertainment. Women dolled up in six-inch heels, homeless men, exhaustedΒ parents dragging kids behind them – we had a lively show all for the watching.

Ever the high-maintenanceΒ foodie, I ordered the crab, a favorite food in which I rarely indulge. Being past the age of self-consciousness, I donned the bib and tucked in to the delicious meal set before me. With no shame I peeled that bad boy apart with my bare buttery hands, like a primitive goddess of gustatory triumph.

Let me just take a moment to reiterate that it is impossible to look sophisticated while eating crab.

It is equally impossible to not look like an ass when your husband orders salad while your meal is the fourth-highest price item on the menu.

So there I was, enjoying my annual crab orgy when Mike looked at me and said “I can’t believe you.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, cracking open another claw. Boy, were those suckers massive! The pincers alone could break a bone.

“That crab was alive only a half-hour ago, and you killed it.”

“So? I’m not a vegetarian.”

“So the point is, you were just talking to the live ones in the tank while we were waiting for a table, and now you’re eating one of them. That’s kind of sick.”

I looked at the crab on my plate and said, “Thank you, random crab, for your gift of life. You are delicious.”

He shook his head. “Why aren’t you a vegetarian? You think baby lambs are the cutest thing ever, and yet your favorite thing on every menu is lamb.”

I thought a minute. “I don’t know. I think if I had to actually kill the animal myself, I’d change my position. Especially if it was a fluffy animal. Here, do you want another leg?” I offered.

“No thanks.”

We returned to our respective meals in mutual silence. Naturally, he finished first, as crab-eating can become rather like an extreme sporting event. A messy extreme sporting event.

Once the final leg had been cracked and the last of the butter slurped off my fingers, I felt the kind of satisfied elation one feels after a task of equal difficulty, like, say, spelunking. In fact, I felt so cheerful about my completed meal, I started rhythmically shaking my shoulders, bobbing my head a little bit. You know, dancing.

Mike pretended to ignore me.

I started to laugh, trying to provoke him into noticing me as I swayed to an invisible beat.

Finally, I said, “I know you want to dance with me.”

He shook his head. “You look ridiculous.”

“But look how much fun I’m having!” I laughed.

At the next shimmy of my shoulders, he burst out laughing, one of those loud guffaws that cannot be contained by mere force of will.

“You look like a fish,” he chuckled.

“An homage to my meal.”

“But you ate crab,” he pointed out.


I couldn’t stop. As I shook my shoulders and laughed until tears fell, I looked around to see what kind of spectacle I was making, how many restaurant patrons would be looking with eyebrows raised at the grown woman dancing like Mr. Limpet.

Not one person looked.

I guess they don’t value people watching as much as I do.



A Dancing Fish — 46 Comments

  1. I love that you just bust out in a happy dance so freely!! I can totally picture that scene in my mind, and it makes me smile so BIG! It’s a shame the other customers missed your sweet moves.

  2. As I read the part about you doing the happy dance at your table, I totally pictured Sebastian from the Little Mermaid singing Under the Sea πŸ˜›
    People are so oblivious to others around them! Maybe because I work in a restaurant, I can’t help but notice everything when I go out to eat. Sometimes I wish I could be less aware

  3. Some things must be eaten in a completely unrefined way – crab, ribs, corn-on-the-cob and pizza. If it isn’t dripping off of your chin, you didn’t really appreciate it.

    I could completely picture your husband trying to ignore you and then bursting out in laughter.

  4. This is heartbreaking for me. I see that others haven’t read it in this way, but it seems very sad. The husband the the wife aren’t connecting. There is a lot of tension under the surface. They don’t fit together. He wants her to be something she isn’t, and he makes her feel shame. He corrects her, criticizes. She tries to stay happy despite it all.

    I hope I haven’t touched a nerve. All I can say is that this is masterfully written.

    I am here from Yeah Write, so I know this is memoir.

    I hope I have misunderstood, but I know this meal. I know this dance. I’m glad something beautiful came of the meal after all.

  5. I love crab! It’s my guilty pleasure πŸ™‚ My sister can’t look at the crab tank as we walk by. I’m kinda disconnected. She once joined PETA and then when she realized she couldn’t wear her favorite shoes anymore she dropped that. And I love Mr Limpet.

  6. Such a sweet, funny portrait of a couple. It’s obvious you two are best friends who can say anything to each other and have a blast together.

    Glad you enjoyed your crab and your happy dance. If I had been at the next table, I would have applauded you, you “primitive goddess of gustatory triumph” (loved that line and that you mentioned spelunking).

    • There was just too great a parallel between eating crab and spelunking to let it go by without mentioning it! πŸ™‚
      And I feel pretty lucky that Mike and I can live in mutual weirdness together, because that is closer to happily-ever-after than anything I’ve yet experienced. Everyone should have someone they can be silly with.

  7. I would be right there w/ you, eating the crab, and doing the dance. . . although my wife would be there right there w/ me too. . . well, eating the crab part. . . Fun story. I liked there was a little tension, but that it ended in laughter. . .

  8. I loved this sentence: ” With no shame I peeled that bad boy apart with my bare buttery hands, like a primitive goddess of gustatory triumph.” That was hilarious and awesome, as was your stubborn enjoyment of your meal!

  9. I have no problem whatsoever, digging into a meal that’s going to leave it’s marks all down the front of my bib as a sign of the battle that I had to wage with it to get it eaten.

    I’m so happy that I got the Mr. Limpet reference, and you should also know, that there isn’t anybody who can bust out the dance moves in the cab of a tractor, quite they way that I can!

    Very nice post! πŸ™‚

  10. i can’t believe your husband just ordered a salad and then mocked your food choice. i think he was jealous. πŸ˜‰
    such a fun, engaging story, love your abandon, dancing with a crab bib. fabulous.

  11. haha I LOVE this one. and I just love CRAB…makes me wanna go order some, such a tastey delight. Jason doesn’t get it either.

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