Summer Nostalgia

Crabs strike a sentimental chord in my soul.

They bring me back to childhood: sitting on my haunches in the sand with two children of enviously French names, the saggy bottom of my swimsuit reaching towards the ground, tipping large rocks over to expose the fleeing city of crustaceans underneath.

Three, two, one! The boulder would tumble to its side. We felt like Godzillas overlooking the product of our terror and power. We’d lunge, plucking the innocent citizens from their scurrying paths and toss them into our respective buckets.

The bigger crabs would defend themselves, raising their tiny pinchers like boxing gloves against the impostors, dancing side-to-side as our grubby fingers approached.

This was repeated until we had exhausted either the supply of quality crab rocks or our attention span, whichever came first. We’d inspect our bounty, admiring the writhing mass of little animals we’d caught using our carefully honed skills and lightening reflexes.

We would compare them while sucking on barnacle-cut fingers, admiring the marbled moss greens, steel grays and burgundy of their shells. Their claws would scratch at our fingertips while we flipped them over to determine gender (something about ice cream cones and lighthouses?) and occasionally one would give an angry pinch, then hang on stubbornly as we screamed and shook them off.

Once satisfied, we’d tip our buckets and release the poor things, smiling and nodding, having filled our daily quota for calamity. Most died in the baking sun, and it remains the chief crime of my childhood. I still feel guilty for it to this day.

Oh, the sweet innocence of youth.

All three of us are still alive and mentally stable, if that counts for anything. We cross paths occasionally, at a bar or a party, having gone our separate ways with nothing to bind us save for an entire salty, adventurous childhood spent side by side.

We catch up and briefly reminisce of dislocated shoulders and camping trips and learning swear words. And of course, the crabs.

Photograph by Cass Bird for T Magazine


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