Non-Seafood People Need Love, Too

B448DEC3-5F36-41B4-B555-E67F5A26B1E4I’m really not the best person to tease. In fact, I was teased so badly as a child, that it’s called ‘bullying’ today. The scars are healed, now, but once in a while they flare up, and I fly off the handle a bit. It’s usually due to a repetitive scorn, and after about a trillion times of throwing it in my face, I just…well…here’s the rest of the story.

There is one thing my husband and friends mock and denigrate me about as if I were the queen of fools. Quite honestly, I’m sick of it. I have driven a stake in the ground. (Umm…sand, actually. We live on an island.)

I’m saying no.

I will absolutely not, ever again, eat seafood in any form. Not clams. Not oysters. Not shallots. Not grouper. Not redfish. Not…well, I can’t remember names of seafood, but believe me, folks have all but forked bites of it into my mouth in an effort to show me how wonderful it is. Do they not think I’ve tried several times? Do they think that I outright lie when I say I don’t like it? It’s a mystery. One of my good friends even told me to stop saying I hated seafood  because I wouldn’t be considered a local (insert eyeroll here). Seems to me people that love me would know this about me and LEAVE ME ALONE ABOUT IT.

Sigh.

Why do people feel they have an obligation, nay…a holy DUTY…to recruit non-seafood people into the seafood-lover militia? I will be the token anomaly. It’s okay. Locals can point to me and whisper, “that’s our last holdout, but we still have hope” all they want to, but there is no hope. And I reject all manner of putting stuff in my mouth that is even slightly fishy. I have the right to refuse, don’t I? Isn’t that the American way? I especially reject crustraceans that wander the ocean scooping up all manner of fish poop into their little clampy mouths and then arrive on a restaurant table artfully displayed for $500. Yuk on several levels.

Look, seafood people – we non-seafood people should make you even more proud of your lofty seafood vocabulary and discussion of culinary literacy regarding lobster, crab, dauphin, (is that a fish?) or whatever. You know something we don’t. (We don’t really want to know, but hey, we will listen with rapt attention and respect your right to know. We can still get along.)

Speaking of crustaceans, the worst of the worst happened a couple of weeks ago.

My husband and I are semi-retired, and he is looking for hobbies and fun stuff to do as he feverishly awaits full retirement. When we moved across the street from a lake, I took a very deep breath when he took up fishing.

With all his heart.

I mean…the man seeks out every neighbor and pulls information and help from them like a dentist pulls teeth. He is merciless. So now we have not one, not two, but THREE stinkin’ fishing poles in the garage PLUS a filet knife, line, tackle, and all the other fishy accoutrement. Trust me when I say I hate the smell of fish more than the taste of it and this man knew it when we got married. Did that deter him?

Of course not.

But we have agreed on boundaries. He can’t bring the fish in the house unless its fileted and on its way to the freezer. Don’t get me started on the rotting bait he ‘just happens’ to throw into the trashcan for our poor trash pickup people to endure. Plus, now we have a racoon problem? Hmmmm.

But I digress. Worse than that, he has started CLAMMING.

OMG.

Now, he has dirty, muddy rubber boots, borrows this little rake-thing from a neighbor and wanders out into the muddy marsh. With a smile on his face, no less. I know now where the phrase ‘happy as a clam’ comes from. These, also, cannot come into the house, and I thank God that we have water faucets all around the perimeter of our home so he can wash the little critters outside. His mud-spackled clothing has to go straight to the laundry, and his mud-spackled body straight to the shower.

When he’s done clamming, he looks like a slightly remorseful- but proud -three-year-old boy fresh from a mud puddle. The other day, in all his mud-bespeckled glory, still wearing the grimy rubber boots, he grabbed his white, plastic bucket of unmwashed, still very much alive clams and strode purposefully toward a neighbor walking her two little purse-dog Pomeranians in the street in front of our house.

I was downright horrified as he marched toward her, bucket held high, little bitty fork-rake thing at his side, in all his clammy glory to show off his catch. Come to think of it, I guess clamming is where the term ‘clammy hands’ comes from.

Eww.

Our neighbor smiled and tried to be polite, but backed away before the dogs leapt into the bucket.

A few days ago, he asked me to come watch while he raked the salt marsh mud for clam treasure, which I did. After all, a wife’s gotta support her man, at least on the surface, right? I don’t have to smell or touch the mud or the clams if I stay a good space away from the entire activity. He bought me black rubber boots for the occasion (why?) and I nicely responded that I’d watch from the bank in a chair, thanks.

With a goodly amount of wine.

So now I’m finding out that there are plenty of clam-lovers and clam-diggers out there. To my horror, once a friend of ours found out my husband had become conversant in all things clam, he promptly invited us over for dinner. He’d make Clams Casino Fettucine.

Guess who provided the clams.

The host generously cooked me chicken instead, but told me later he cooked it in the same sauce as the clams.

Did he have to tell me that? Really?

 

 

Life on Hold

I cannot imagine what California and New York are going through. Enforced isolation. Isn’t that a little like, um, prison? I know, I know…separation slows the virus transmission. However, a little too reminiscent of Venezuela. Cuba. China.

Don’t want to think about it.

But…public beaches are now closed on Hilton Head.

What?

The mayor had already closed all restaurants except for takeout. All public meetings have been canceled, along with school and various and sundry other activites. Gym is closed. Pools are not open. Heritage Golf Classic is postponed.

As long as we had our gorgeous beaches to keep us sane during social distancing and closing off every recreational or social venue available things were fine. We had long lines early in the morning at Publix, Kroger, WalMart and Harris Teeter as we raced down the aisles for food and tp, but basically things were fine. Then the mayor closed our beaches.

What’s next? Golf courses? We have around 24 or so on the Island. It’s the one thing people here – vacationing or otherwise – could do safely and be assured of lots of space around them.

Golf venues will more than likely close as well. Unless a miracle happens. Which, in my mind, is always a possibility.

My house is overly stocked, now, on toilet paper. That this is a thing to celebrate mystifies me. We are also stocked to the gills on meat, bread, milk and peanut butter. Oh, and eggs. Coffee. These are essentials for us. I have two bottles of wine.

I don’t think that’s gonna do it. Must add wine to the list when (and if) I venture forth. Will handshakes be a thing of the past? Gosh, I hope not. I’m an enthusiastic hugger, so if the handshake is out the door, what will happen to hugs? 

Some say this will change life forever, at least in the U.S.

On the up side, one would hope a situation like this would make us more appreciative of daily amenties, public venues, the ability to navigate life freely. Teach us not to live in chronic fear, but hang onto courage and resilience in spite of it. To cling to hope. And there is ALWAYS hope.

One thing is certain. It’s making all of us – no matter political party, race, or affiliation – think about things. Life. Death. The importance of touching another human being. The freedom to buy and eat what we want and not what is being rationed. Toilet paper. (Had to throw that one in there. I’m looking forward to all the memes after this pandemic settles down.) Maybe we are putting down our phones and connecting more with the people we live with. Maybe we are enjoying our own little patch of earth more than usual, since many of us cannot venture outside it. Maybe we’ll learn to be grateful for small, overlooked things like a good conversation or an unexpected ‘I love you’ instead of rushing through life not even noticing. Perhaps we’ll learn to live on less and stop spending money on overpriced and underwhelming extras. Perhaps Democrats and Republicans will put down their swords.

Maybe.

Maybe a lot of good will come from something that looks like, on its face, a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions.

But still.

Mr. Mayor, did you have to close the beaches? Two whole months?

Sigh.

 

 

 

 

I Can’t Hear You, You are Talking Too Much

Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness.

–Margaret Miller

for conversation articleMost folks seem more interested in talking than listening. I notice this as I sit staring at my cold coffee and listening to the person sitting across the table from me who has been talking for twenty minutes without a single thought that the other person might like to be involved in the conversation also.

Isn’t a conversation a two-way street? I always thought so, but maybe not. Perhaps culturally, the word ‘conversation’ has morphed into ‘monologue’.

 

conversation article 2

Typically I look forward to conversations with friends in anticipation of them talking, then me talking, then them talking, then me talking . . . you get the idea. I’m usually the first to dig into the meaty stuff with soul-probing questions like ‘how’s your life going?’ or ‘what’s the best thing that’s happened to you this week?’ which launches an interesting  dialogue. I love to hear what’s going on in hearts and lives and also sharing what’s going on in mine. I love the inspiration and direction that comes from a stimulating conversation.  A rhythm develops, a natural give and take of laughter, caring and transparency.

Every good conversation starts with good listening. Deep conversations with the right people are priceless.

–Anonymous

Of course, this expectation is off the table if one of us is going through a shattering life struggle. That person gets a free pass and my job (hopefully I will not be the one going through an equivalent event at the same time) is to hold a hand, say a prayer, listen with real concern and not look at my phone. Not even once.

But let’s get real, here. Barring a person going through crisis, who wants to spend a couple of hours listening to someone chat conv art 4about themselves indefinitely without realizing the other person is getting all glassy-eyed and bored because they haven’t been asked a single question or given a few seconds of space to jump in and join?  I don’t get it. And I’ve tried being transparent about my feelings, but ohmigosh you’d think I’d barfed all over them by their reactions.

I don’t do that anymore.

Instead, I’m careful to limit contact. I don’t understand the mentality. Plus, I feel devalued when I’m with them.

On the flip side, my husband and I have experienced evenings with couples that leave us smiling and content when we part ways. I think it’s because they were really interested in us. And I suspect they treat most people that way. It is a lovely thing to be around these kinds of folks. I strive to be that kind of person.

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.

–Margaret Wheatley