I was staring down the barrel of a business trip that would keep me on the east coast for two weeks when WonderWife™ had a brainstorm and offered to fly out with the kids so we could meet up at my parents’ house for the weekend. I told her that she was crazy and gladly took her up on her offer.
When I called to tell my mom that we’d be crashing at her place in a few weeks she was joyful and right before we hung up she said, “…and we’ll get crabs.” This was a joyous proposition that I had not yet considered.
You see, I’m a Maryland boy born and raised and I have blue crab in my blood. They are one of my favorite things to eat. There is nothing better than a pile of steamed crabs covered in spicy Old Bay. Admittedly, crabs are not for everyone. They require patience, a wooden mallet, and a certain degree of know-how (that is passed down from generation to generation of Maryland residents). It takes a lot of work for a little bit. But oh, those little bits of sweet, succulent meat that you get… I could sit at a table and pick crabs for hours. And growing up that’s what we did every summer, which considerately enough falls during the summer.
Summer just isn’t summer unless there are blue crabs. And living in California, it hasn’t truly been summer for me for a long time.
Not only couldn’t I wait to eat crab, but I was going to be able to share the experience with my boy. The Bean is somewhat unpredictable when it comes to consuming protein, but he loves seafood. I imagined him liking the crab, and loving the visual of a couple of dozen creatures with claws sitting on the table in front of him. I had a vision of us sitting there, paper towels tucked into our shirts bib style, cracking open a few claws having the time of our lives. I even began to compose the blog post in my head.
That evening, I drove with my dad to the same crab shack we’ve been frequenting since I was a kid. As we drove back, the familiar smell of Old Bay wafted toward the front seat, making my mouth water. At home, my mom had set up everything according to tradition—newspaper on the table, trashcan pulled up next to it and a couple of rolls of paper towels sitting on top.
The Bean was intrigued as we dumped the steaming pile of crabs onto the newspaper.
“Can I play with one?” he asked.
“Better than that,” I said, “let me show you how to eat one.”
The Bean picked up an errant claw as I began cracking open the crab, picking out the meat and putting it in front of him in a nice pile. Seeing me eat, he used his mallet and began banging on his crab leg. But after a few minutes the whole thing must have lost its luster because he grew disinterested. He picked at the meat and asked to be excused a few minutes later.
It never occurred to me that he might not be into it. In fact, in an unexpected turn of events, the Bean couldn’t have cared less about the crab feast.
At this point I did the only thing I could do, I shrugged off my disappointment, grabbed another crab and happily began to pick it.