Wednesday, September 1, 2010

of Bhuddists, demons and and pissed off crabs

We’ve just got back from a long weekend up on Lopez Island, a magnificent small and eclectic Island in the San Juans. It is a great place to bike (not many gut busting hills to climb) and lots of open pastoral views across well kept farmland and stunning water vistas of sparkling little rocky bays filled with sea kelp. It doesn’t have many places to eat, but the ones it does have provide a warm friendly reception and a variety of local produce, well prepared and tasty too.

A good winery doesn’t hinder the enjoyment in the least, and you can find me there most weekends we visit, sitting in the shade of grape vines tucking in to local smoked salmon. When I choose to cook, I have a magnificent farmers market (more about that on my other blog, Neptune's Kitchen) at my disposal where you can get most of anything you might need and a lot more beside. Local musicians sit and play, kiddies romp, the local gossip gets passed around and, if you are hungry, there are several hot food vendors including a French Crepe maker and the Mexican equivalent, Quesadillas stuffed with Avocado, Poblano Chili and Jack Cheese.

After two days of hot sun, gentle exercise and food worth travelling miles and miles for, we should have called it a day. However, we had come up this weekend on the suggestion of our son’s best friend’s mother and her parents, all of whom we love dearly. We were all going to pitch in and make our food together and we could relax round the camp fire while the kids played on the beach.

“So what could be possibly wrong with that, ” I hear you ask?

What I didn’t know before hand was that there were several other families (old college friends whom best friend's mom had not seen in years apparently) with kids coming, non of whom we knew. The alarm bells were just starting to tinkle, when nightmare family #1 arrived. As soon as they poked their heads out of the vehicle door, I knew the rest of our trip was doomed. Two flashes of screaming energy with curly red hair shot across the parking lot and headed towards our tent, which I’d foolishly left open to air. Before I could get there, they had emptied the contents of our tent onto the sand, and had started into the cool box which was full of large and pissed off Dungeness crabs.
Demon # 1 tipped them all out into the tent, and before you could say, “serves you right you little shit”, Demon #2 had a large angry crab attached to his sandel. Our 6 man tent suddenly shrank in size, like a shrink wrapped sandwich, as I tried to hold demon #2 with one hand as he thrashed around on the floor and remove the crab with the other. Fortunately, the other crabs had legged it out onto the sand and were being tormented by Demon #1 with a toasting fork. The little shit's darling's parents had arrived by this time and mother demon was scowling at me as if I'd just crapped in her purse. Daddy Demon was frothing at the mouth and blubbering something about leaving dangerous animals in our tent when son's best friend's mother came to the rescue and offered to show Mr and Mrs Demon their allotted space. The little Demons ventured further down the beach in search of new pillage prospects , so I took the opportunity to corral the crabs and re furnish our tent.

One of the other couples arrived and were in the process of pitching their tent when I took the crabs down to the beach for "cleaning". I usually crack their shells on a sharp stone, breaking them in half (which is a lot quicker way of dispatching crabs than dropping them in boiling water) then separate the legs and body from the shell. The new arrivals were using the back of a hatchet to hammer in the pegs, so I asked them if I could use the hatchet afterwards. "What for" asked the father of the fattest 4 year old I've ever seen. "I'm just going to cut the crabs in half" I replied. "I'd have a problem with that" he said. Misjudging his reticence by about a mile, I cheerfully added, " Oh don't worry, I don't want you to be the executioner, I just need the tool". He grimaced, took a deep breath and said, "We're Buddhists and I'd prefer if you would take your crabs elsewhere."

Oh fuck!

Dinner that night did nothing to alleviate the air of gloom, especially as the last couple and their son had just arrived. Our Son's best friend's Grandpa is a big strong man, and a camp kitchen is not worth having unless there are copious amounts of meat sizzling on the fire. Tonight was no exception.  I had selflessly postponed my dietary requirements for the evening to keep him company, and was anticipating murmurs of approval (except for the Buddhists), when  Mrs New Arrival asked in a peeved sort of voice, "Is that grass fed meat, my husband can only eat grass fed beef?' to which I replied in about as sarcastic a tone as I could muster, "That was one question I didn't get a chance to ask it before it shuffled down the gang plank and into oblivion." Without even batting an eyelid, she continued, "and my son is a vegetarian, what do you have for him then?"  I pointed to the large platter of fresh roasted vegetables, and another of sliced cantaloupe and white peaches. "Oh, he won't eat any of that" she said with contempt. My wife often accuses me of being a little slow on the uptake, so I asked in as polite a voice as I could, under the circumstances, what the fuck
a vegetarian eats, if not for vegetables and fruit. "There aren't any grains or pulses", she carried on without even flinching, "he eats nuts". I said he wouldn't go hungry round here then, as there seems to be an elegant sufficiency, when I caught sight of Grandpa leaning up against the side of his camper van weeping in silent paroxysms of laughter. Well, that was it. I lost it all together. I started to laugh so hard, I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

They left the following morning and they didn't even say goodbye.


  1. You must have the patience of a saint. I'd have retired to my car with a bottle of gin with the arrival of the red-headed monsters ;-D

    Ali xxxx

  2. In between thoughts of mass murder and infanticide, I did crack open the odd bottle or two.


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