Tempting Fate

That fate can be a fickle friend.

Today, I had lunch with Kelly and the kids. It was a nice surprise in the middle of the day/week. I think Victoria missed me. When we sat down, she scooted her chair so close it was touching mine. Before the meal was out, she was actually perched in my lap.

Kelly managed to distract them for a moment so we could talk about…lobster. Of course. For the record, lobster makes me very happy.

Why all this talk about lobster?

Champps has a new claw machine right inside the door. It’s a live lobster tank. For $2 you drop a claw and try to capture a lobster. If you catch one, they’ll cook it for you. Weird? Um, yes. The kids thought it was great. More so if you know that as a family, they’re kind of obsessed with claw machines. I’m fairly certain a good percentage of Victoria’s college fund has gone into winning her 7,864 stuffed animals.

Mark loves those things. To be fair, Mark is actually good at them. So, Kelly said right away, “we’ll have to come back with daddy and win a lobster…”

Christian kept asking about the lobster all through lunch. He wanted to know what you did with it when you won. A good question, because it’s alive. Victoria and I already had this discussion and she didn’t want to eat one because it would pinch her lips. I asked if she’d be eating it or kissing it, which prompted a giggle–exactly my aim.

Finally, Kelly told Christian that you have to cook the lobster and then detailed exactly how. Boil the water, drop it in and listen to it scream. Or something like that.

Christian would not be denied. He HAD to try to win a lobster. Kelly said sure and gave the boy two dollars. When Victoria heard, she wanted in as well. Kelly said no. Victoria didn’t think it was fair that Christian got to win a lobster and she didn’t.

Kelly said, with a meaningful glance at me, “he’s not going to WIN a lobster, he’s just going to try. One try is all we need.” And since we had already eaten and lobsters are notoriously unreliable pets, one try is plenty to “win” a lobster.

The money went in, Kelly lined up the claw and let both kids press the button.

Down it went.

Slowly dropping in place.

Kelly and I were harshly whispering because it was tough to believe what we were seeing.

The claw dropped gently on the back of the largest lobster in the tank.

Surely, SURELY, it won’t actually lift him. It’ll be like most of those games where the claws skid harmlessly off the toy and snap shut in defeat.

The claw closed.

It started to retract.

Gripped inside was Lousy, the largest lobster in the tank.

Kelly and the kids went nuts.

Victoria was screaming “I don’t want him, I don’t want him”

Christian was just screaming

Kelly screamed at me, “do something! get someone!”

And so I did. Mere minutes later, we were chatting up the manager who was kind enough to offer to refund our $2 and keep the lobster.


He offered to box it up and send it home with us. Kelly was laughing/crying and not really deciding much at all. I stepped in and said, “yes, box it up, she’ll take it home.”

Off they went to get the box.

Kelly decided to call Mark and tell him the “good” news.


Victoria officially told the story, as you can see, she’s a little freaked.


Mark was strangely casual about it. “They won’t cook it for you?” When Kelly said we’d already eaten, and were bringing the live lobster home, I think he said, “okay, I’ll cook it tonight”.

The manager returned with an assistant who pulled the lobster out of the machine, placed in in a box, taped it shut and poked holes in the top. I thought the holes were a bit redundant. Given the choice, I think I’d choose slow suffocation over boiled alive, but that’s just me. Nobody asked Lousy.


Meanwhile, the manager was giving Kelly firm directions on the care and handling of live lobster, right up until cooking.

Did you know they have no nerves so they can’t feel it when you drop them in water?

Um, okay.

and you have to put them in head first?

Is that so they die faster? Or so they don’t realize what’s happening and climb the heck out of that pot?

Then, the assistant handed me the box. A large box containing the freshest entree ever. I balanced the bizarrely light box (I thought lobster would be heavier, they look sturdier than they feel) on my left hand and then felt its legs creeping along the bottom of the box, even through the cardboard. That sensation was, less than pleasant.

Christian asked if he could carry it. I said, sure, and then added, “but you can’t drop him”; which, in retrospect, strikes me as a rather stupid remark. Who cares if he drops the lobster? Will it bruise a few hours before we boil and eat it?

I gave it to him, snapped a picture of him holding the thing and then he said, “okay, here you go” and shoved the box back at me. Evidently he didn’t want to carry it, just wanted the novelty of holding it.


Victoria wouldn’t come near it. Right until we got in the car, she kept saying she didn’t want that thing coming home with us. Then I set it on her lap and told her to hold it. She was chill about it. I guess getting to hold it is better than looking it in its beady little eyes.

Here’s the proud family, in front of the machine.


“You catch ’em, we cook ’em” says the sign. Ah, if only it were that easy.

“We’ll never win.” Guess you won’t be saying that anymore, huh, Kel?

The good news is, I’ll always remember this as the day I learned about lobster. I love lobster.

2 thoughts on “Tempting Fate

  1. It’s very hard to believe… still and it’s in my fridge and we’ve had everyone we can shake the box and take a guess. Nobody’s guessed right yet…go figure. I have a feeling they’ll be a lot of talk about lobster in the next year or so!

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