When my folks had crab feasts — and, living in Baltimore, they invariably did — the shells had to be taken to an incinerator that seemed far,far away to my 6-year-old self. I’m not sure if this journey was required by law, or the vagaries of trash pick-up. It seemed to take forever to reach the trash-burning facility, which was as terrifying as it should be — smelly, with open fires burning and sullen men chewing on cigars. Can any of this be true? At any rate, it imparted the lesson that every pleasure involved some pain. If you wanted to eat crabs, then you had to drive across town to get rid of the smelly, Old Bay encrusted shells and innards.
I’m sure everyone in my family would agree on the memory that I once took a crab mallet and threw it at my sister, hitting her squarely between the shoulder blades. But was it a regular wooden mallet, the kind given away for free, or one of my parent’s special ones? (Dark wood hammer, silver handle shaped for crab excavation) I prefer to think it was the latter, launched through the August twilight a la Ed Ames, albeit with greater accuracy.