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Pot of Fire

At the age of twenty-five, I consumed my first one pound, twenty dollar lobster, steamed, cracked opened by my own hand, succulent pieces dipped in butter at a now defunct restaurant called Broadway Bay.

What’s the big deal and why did it take so long to eat a lobster?

Trauma.

A lobster, a pot of boiling water with a pinch of salt and a child equals trauma.

I was nine years old and lived in my childhood home in Brooklyn, New York. I was also a latch key kid and spent many hours after a tortuous day at catholic school, alone in the house, waiting for mom, my mom or a sibling to come home from work and school.

Being a latch key kid had its advantages.

I was able to:

-play with matches (almost set the house on fire after setting a match to a perfume bottle)

-sneak outside and run amok with my friends (but back in the house for mom’s four o clock check in call)

– eat bags of chips and Kit Kats bought with the school’s weekly two dollar pledge envelope money (which seldom found its way into the teacher’s hand)

-rummage through my siblings private draws and read love letters (I was an imaginary participant in the RIF program sans the use of library books)

The list can go on but it stops here.

As soon as mom, yes, she is my mom, came home, I was velcroed to her side. I heard stories about her workday, some funny and some, well maybe a PG rating should have been implemented. After this, she would start dinner while changing into her house clothes as I did homework on the dining room table. This was our daily routine, until, she returned home one evening, with a large paper bag.

The brown paper bag went immediately into the kitchen as I trailed behind it. Mom withdrew a lobster and placed into the stainless steel sink.  The lobster was about three pounds, multi-coloured with dark hues of specks and its claws where a dark shade of ruddy pine green. As it stood in the sink mom turned on the faucet and ran tepid water on it.

Giddy with excitement over the gift I thought I received, I remained spellbound and did not inquire what I had done to deserve a new pet or where the tank was or the food to feed it. I splashed water around the poor thing while thinking of names to call it as I tried to figure out its sex.

Mom, yes my mom, meanwhile, started dinner. She placed a large pot of water on the stove and I figured, ‘oh spaghetti’. I did not think of what was to come for my young budding mind did not comprehend the scenario in front of me. Mom, who is from the Caribbean, is accustomed to petting the goat in the afternoon that would later become the invited, cooked and well seasoned guest on the dinner plates.  Bon Appétit-no problem!

The pot of water had turned into a rage of boiling bubbles that broke the surface with bursts of hot air.

I continued to play with my pet lobster.

Steam emitted from the surface of the pot.

I continued to play with my pet lobster now named Ricky.

In a gesture that took two seconds to execute, Ricky went from a caressing waterfall in the stainless steel sink to the rage and fury of boiling water gone wild in an aluminum pot. One clawed waved listlessly in the air and then it was over.

Sixteen years later, I sat in Broadway Bay with my bib and butter and eagerly dived in. Of course dating someone who loved lobster was the ultimate incentive and long after our ending, my lobster fetish began and endured. Until…Karma.

At the age of forty-something, I ate a piece of lobster during lunchtime at one of the dogs’ press shows. In less than twenty minutes, my scalp was on fire with the itchies. Thankfully, I had a Zrytec in my purse that was able to quell the allergic reaction. I was confused, ashamed, and stupefied. Twenty -two years of lobster consumption now reduced to avoidance. No more jaunts to the Caribbean with lobster for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No more Red Lobster in fits of desperation or for that matter, no more Fairway $7.99 lobster specials!! It was over, done, did, over.

What goes around comes around. I let Ricky meet his maker without protest or tears that would not have swayed mom, my mom’s , eye on the prize. She devoured him that night as I cried in my bedroom, oblivious to my heartache.

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