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, exhausted parents dragging kids behind them – we had a lively show all for the watching.
Ever the high-maintenance 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.
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.