Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It all started with a raw oyster...

As promised, here's a post devoted to my thoughts about myself upon reading Walking on Broken Glass by Christa Allan...

When I look back over my life, I realize that the compromises started with a stinking (literally) raw oyster. I don't like seafood. Never have. At the age of 18, my idea of seafood was catfish, which doesn't really come from the sea at all. I didn't and still don't like fish of any kind, shrimp, oysters, lobster, etc, etc, and so on. I still try them to appease the pleads of others around me, but I can honestly say that I have yet to try anything that swims (or lies in the bottom of the ocean / fresh water begging to be netted up, battered, and fried) that I like enough to order an entire meal of it. And I really don't see that changing between now and my death.

At 18, I was dating a new boy. It was a relationship of many firsts for me - the biggest first being that the boy really seemed to want to stick around. He kinda liked me. And I really dug him. He was handsome and charming. Charismatic. The life of every party. And he wanted me. I was floating above the clouds...

One summer evening, we went to dinner at one of his favorite places to eat oysters. He ordered a dozen on the half shell. I'm sure I ordered chicken fingers and fries. When his plate of shells filled with mucous goo arrived at our table, he offered me one. "No, thanks," I politely refused. But he refused to let it die. On and on about how you have to try it just once. The tennis match across the table ensued - the back and forth of, "But I don't eat seafood," and "How do you know you like it if you don't try it?" Somehow, the conversation turned angry, and my dinner date gave me an ultimatum: "Eat the raw oyster, or I'll take you home right now and never speak to you again."

Looking back, it sounds like a no-brainer.

"Take me home, then..."

But back then, to me, it was everything. This was the boy of my dreams. How could I lose it all just because I wouldn't do a shot of snot on a shell? So, I reluctantly agreed. He was pleased to fix one up for me with cocktail sauce and horseradish. After holding it in my hand for several minutes, I finally did the deed and sucked it down.

Immediately, my throat was on fire. Just like the oyster, I had never had horseradish before and certainly was unprepared for the fiery sensation it left down its path. I thought surely it would all come back up, but I think I guzzled an entire glass of sweet tea to quench the fire and calm the stomach.

Later that evening, it started. My intestines went nuts. I ran fever of 102. A couple of days later, my mom carried me to the doc-in-a-box. Upon taking a little blood, examination, and consideration that I had eaten a raw oyster, the conclusion was drawn that it was food poisoning. He advised me that most seafood contains different bacteria than our normal land diets, and for someone like me, who never eats seafood, this can be quite a shock to the system, especially when eating it raw.

Stupid me.

So what the heck does this have to do with the novel I just read? Everything. It has to do with my mind set back then. The same mindset that landed me in a heap of a troubled relationship for several years. The mind set that enabled me to eat something that even the biggest of all seafood lovers don't even care to eat - the raw oyster. The mind set within me that cared more about what someone else thought than I did about myself. The mind set that said it would be okay to start drinking at the age of 19 because Mr. Oyster Man wanted me to do that too. And he wasn't stupid; he knew if he could get me to eat a raw oyster, a little fruity drink would be a piece of cake.

I must say I liked my first drink much better than my first (and last) oyster.

Mr. Oyster Man pulled a number on me with lots of things over a period of time. But mostly, I pulled a number over myself. Putting my name at the end of the list as far as who mattered and was important. Why on earth would anyone who was as cute and intelligent and witty as I was at 18 or 19 years old allow another human being to tell her that if I didn't eat that or drink this that they wouldn't have anything to do with me anymore? I look back and find it pure insanity, and I can't believe it was me.

Of course, if you know enough about me, you all know that eventually I told Mr. Oyster Man to go choke on a raw one... took me a while (and a conk over the head from The Man upstairs), but I finally got the message. Funny thing is, I'm still learning from that insecure, mess of a girl I was back then. Still trying to figure out why I ever tossed back a shell with mucous in it.

1 comment:

Erika said...

And also, the one oyster you had gave you food poisoning, if that wasn't a sign from above, I don't know what is! Especially considering I've eaten hundreds of snots on shells and been fine. And thank you for that metaphor. Love you.