The Little Crab That Got Away

As you sail up the Severn River into Annapolis Harbor, you’ll pass Horn Point, where there’s a large white house on the bluff with a deck overlooking the water.

As you sail up the Severn River into Annapolis Harbor, you’ll pass Horn Point, where there’s a large white house on the bluff with a deck overlooking the water. 

If you look closely, you’ll see the hot tub on the deck where the soakers can enjoy the million-dollar view. This was the home of Glen and Melissa, he an up-and-coming injury attorney and she a financial advisor with a prominent national firm. They were one of those double-income couples with no children and they were perfectly happy except for one thing: Glen loved to cook and eat crabs, and Melissa couldn’t stand him for it.

Glen would be out on the deck every weekend, firing up his Weber grill to get a big pot of water steaming. He’d pop open a can of Natty Boh and pour it into the liquid, then lift the top of a bushel full of number-one jimmies and snap off a crab claw to pry open a fresh can of Old Bay. He’d stick his long-handled tongs into the basket and pull out a big ol’ crab, and there’d be another crab attached to that and another and another, claw to claw, like a paperclip chain. He’d lower the crabs into the pot and sprinkle on the spice and then close the lid and Melissa could hear the tips of the claws scritching against the inside of the pot…until…they…stopped.

“How can you do that to those poor, innocent creatures?” she’d whine.

“Oh, don’t worry, honey,” Glen would bray, “they don’t feel a thing as they drift off to sleep in the nice, steamy hot water.” And he’d snort that condescending chortle that always raised Melissa’s hackles.

This went on, every weekend from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July and on through August. Finally, on Labor Day last year, Glen talked Melissa into throwing a big crab feast, so they invited all of their clients—and both of their friends. Glen bought three whole bushels of jumbo jimmies. They had rented extra picnic tables and arranged them around the deck, carefully covered them with newspapers, and handed out the Natty Boh beers as the guests arrived.

Glen fired up the Weber and opened up the first bushel. He reached in with his tongs and pulled out a big, fat crab and snapped off a claw to pry open a fresh can of Old Bay. He dumped the crabs into the pot and sprinkled them with the spice and lowered the lid and all Melissa could hear was the scritching of their claws against the inside of the pot…until…they…stopped.

“Oh, Glen,” she moaned, “how can you do that?”

“Don’t worry, honey,” he guffawed, “they just drift off to sleep in that nice, steamy, hot water.”

When he got to the bottom of the third basket, there was just one little crab left. Glen tried to pick it up with the tongs, but it slipped away, landed on the deck, skittled off the edge and plopped into the water below. “Well, honey,” Glen snorted, “there’s one you don’t have to worry about.” 

After all the crabs had been eaten, all the beer had been drunk, and all the guests had left, Glen and Melissa went about cleaning up. They bundled all the crab shells and gooey bits in the newspapers and hosed everything down. They’d put in a hard day’s work, so they decided to relax with a good soak in the hot tub. 

While they were there, enjoying the moonrise over their million-dollar waterfront view, they didn’t notice that the little crab that got away…came back. It shimmied slowly up a piling, the moonlight glistening on its little green shell, and sidled slowly across the deck, step by step by step by step, inching closer and closer to the hot tub. Then it reached its claw up to the knob on the thermostat and turned it up…UP…UP.

And you know, Glen was right. They didn’t feel a thing as they drifted off to sleep in the nice, steamy hot water. The last thing they saw was the little crab perched on the rim of the tub, silhouetted against the full moon, using its claw to pry open a fresh can of Old Bay.