Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Holy Crab!

When my daughter was about nine years old she decided that she wanted a hermit crab as a pet. My first response was, "Ick". But, after investigating a bit I discovered that hermit crabs carry no diseases and are a relatively low maintenance pet.

We selected a cage, bought a giant bag of sand for cage cleaning refills and purchased several pieces of decor for the crab's new home. We then stood over a giant aquarium filled with disgusting looking little crabs who'd had the misfortune of at some point being plucked from their real home and had their shells painted up like billboards so that they could be advertised and sold on the crab market for juvenile entertainment.

My daughter selected a small crab with a red white and blue design on its shell and promptly informed us that its name was Cameron.

Cameron's home somehow ended up being just off the kitchen by the back door. I passed him hundreds of times a day and would often stop and look into his tank and say something like, "Hey Crab." Sometimes when no one was within earshot, I'd tell him how ugly he was. He seemed to know that he wasn't pretty and never responded to my insults other than to crawl into his coconut hut.

My daughter went to Colorado the first summer she had Cameron and I was charged with his care during her absence. I was diligent in my duties and fed and watered him daily, cleaned his cage, cut up some fruit for him and gave him a bath at least once a week. During the month he was in my care, we became reluctant companions. I quit telling him he was ugly and he responded by crawling into his coconut hut. Cameron didn't show a lot of emotion, but I could tell he appreciated my efforts.

One day after my daughter had returned from Colorado, I heard her scream in such a manner that made me think that she had just had her colon removed via her ear. As I ran with my heart beating in fear of the grotesque condition in which I would find my disemboweled daughter when I reached her, I stopped short at Cameron's tank. There my daughter stood with tears rolling down her face. "CAMERON'S DEAD!!!!" she wailed. Sure enough, I looked into his tank and there he was, sans shell, all dried up like a little shriveled cocktail shrimp.

We proceeded with funeral plans which included the placement of a headstone onto which my husband lovingly carved out a "C" and placed at the top of Cameron's grave. We buried him beneath a blooming rose bush in our front flower bed. We all spoke kindly of Cameron and waxed poetic about his kind spirit and how patriotic he was.

Cameron's tank went intact into the garage for the time being. We didn't want to pretend like he'd never existed and that we would soon forget him.

About two weeks later I was standing in the kitchen cutting up vegetables and singing and as I heard the screaming and panting of my son and daughter as they blazed into the kitchen. I inquired as to what in the name of Beejeezes was going on and was not properly prepared for their reply.

"CAMERON'S ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!"

"WHAT THE HELL????? He is NOT!!" I said. "We buried him two weeks ago in the flower bed!!" "HE'S ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!" They squealed.

Running with knife in hand, (after all if animals were being raised from the dead, I might need some protection) I followed my kids to the front yard. And there, on the sidewalk, some fifteen feet from where we'd buried Cameron...was Cameron.

I stood there on the sidewalk as all of the hair on my arms stood at attention. I felt confused and more than a little freaked out. I asked the kids why they'd exhumed the crab. They adamantly denied any participation in his resurrection. I ran to the flower bed and looked at the gravesite. It appeared to be completely untouched. I ran back down to look at Cameron and then ran into the house and Googled "hermit crabs".

Apparently as hermit crabs grow they periodically exit their shell, shed their exoskeleton, burrow into the ground and go into a dormant like state until their new exoskeleton hardens up. They then find a shell and un-burrow and go on about their business as though they're not the freakiest creatures on the planet. By what I was reading on the website, we had evidently aided and abetted Cameron's growth spurt by burying his little dormant carcass and his shell along side each other in a Chinese takeout container a half a foot underground. When he was all nice and rejuvenated, he simply threw his shell back on and dug his freaky little ass out of the ground and hit the road.

How he made it across the lawn and onto the sidewalk without getting trampled is a little crabby miracle, but make it he did.

For weeks after Cameron's resurrection, I would slowly walk by his tank with one hand over my eyes and cautiously peer in to make sure he was still alive and intact. I also stopped going down to the kitchen after dark just in case some supernatural crab event decided to occur during the night.

Cameron eventually died of old age or boredom or whatever crabs die of. It amazed me how few of his followers turned up at his service. I suppose after you've been raised from the dead, it takes awhile for all but the true believers to realize your divinity.

No comments: