My only assigned task associated to my son-in-law and daughter’s crawfish boil yesterday was to be friendly to their guests. You’re probably wondering if I have a history of being rude or unpleasant to folks? If so, let that thought go. I like to think of myself as someone that is enjoyable to be around. After all, being friendly and personable doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch. It doesn’t take a paradigm shift on my part to get there. Providing me that assigned task was more like type casting rather than a role I’d have to be trained to pursue. My only role was simply to be me. Consequently, that didn’t take a lot of effort.
My eight-year-old grandson by his own choice had much bigger shoes to fill. He, too, is a natural when it comes to being friendly and personable. He’s never met a stranger. From the beginning of yesterday morning, he wanted to know what he could do to help Uncle Kevin. I watched as he followed him around taking care of those last minute details. Uncle Kevin also allowed him to assist in stirring the crawfish at one point. It looked like they were using a boat paddle. It also looked new, so I didn’t worry about the paddle’s experience of being submerged in lake water.
Jake was also concerned about the need to define success for himself. In that regard he is like his Gram. She makes a list every day of things she plans to accomplish. Without the list, she’d feel incomplete and less than prepared. With the list in hand, Katy Bar The Door, there is no stopping her. She will accomplished her self-imposed assigned tasks.
Jake fell into the role quite naturally. His is a very competitive family and I surmise that winning always takes precedence over playing. It is part of the DNA that came his way. After all, why not live with the sense of a competitive edge? It is a simple process. If you’re going fishing, which sibling can catch the most fish? Which sibling can catch the biggest fish?
One of Jake’s first questions of Kevin had to do with the amount of crawfish on hand. He needed some quantitative frame of reference so he could determine his fair share. I don’t always get it right when it comes to hearing, but I think Kevin mentioned something about ninety pounds of crawfish. Of course, when you throw in the sausage, potatoes, garlic, oranges and whatever else that eventually got stirred into the pot, it was more than enough. Actually, it was several pots full.
So how many crawfish could an eight year old boy be expected to eat. Where he came up with the number, I’ll never know. He decided his fair share was sixty-five crawfish. In Gram like fashion, he wrote the number down on a stick-em note and marked his spot at the feed trough. I almost called it a table. It looked like a table or a series of tables, but in reality it was a feed trough.
I remember from my very early childhood years going out with my mother’s Uncle Jim when he went to his pasture to feed his cows. He had a dark green 1952 Chevrolet Pickup with wooden sideboards. Did I mention I really liked that truck? I guess you could say he was a fast order chef when it came to feeding the cows. He’d toss the day’s serving in a huge feed trough and the cows voluntarily crowded together to collectively share a meal.
If you’ve been to a crawfish boil, it is a similar kind of experience. I’m not suggesting it wasn’t incredibly enjoyable, but color it anyway you want, it is a community experience. When it comes to connection, I think that’s the way it is supposed to be. Can you imagine a crawfish boil for one person? The more the merrier is the modus operandi. You don’t even have to worry about having enough plates. Cows don’t bother and neither do those wanting to experience a true to life Cajun dining experience.
I was about forty years old before I had my first and my last crawfish boil experience before Kevin’s influence to do it otherwise. The first experience was in a work related venue, so I really didn’t have a choice. You had to be one of the guys and crawfish was king. I played the part and even told myself that it was good. It was good, but it was messy.
Did I mention I don’t like to use my fingers to eat anything? I guess the one exception is that I generally hold a drumstick of fried chicken with my hand. Depending on venue, I’d prefer the part I hold with my hand be wrapped with a paper napkin. To do otherwise is unpleasant tactile stimulation. All four of my grandchildren will tell you that when it comes to eating pizza, Granddad is weird. I use a knife and fork. Without exception, they all find that a little strange. Okay, they actually find that very strange.
Yesterday, I looked at the crowd of people standing around the tables for the crawfish boil experience. If you’ve got boundary issues, you’d hate the experience because folks were packed together like a herd of cattle around a feed trough all wanting to get their share.
So, in fulfilling my assigned task to be friendly yesterday, I asked a few people whose names I hope I remembered correctly about their previous experiences of eating crawfish. “So did you grow up in a part of the country where you were familiar with crawfish boils?” I didn’t find anyone that did. Almost without fail, there was not a Cajun in the mix. The only crawfish experience any of the people I questioned was the venue provided by Kevin and Andrea. For them it was an annual event and they looked forward to it.
Okay, in terms of being totally transparent, I ate only the sausage, potatoes, and the corn on the cob. The corn on the cob was really sweet, juicy and hot. My lips were burning before I finished the first cob. This was definitely a spicy food event.
How about Jake? How did he do? He was focused and deliberate in accomplishing his goal. He had set sixty-five crawfish as the desired outcome. He methodically made a tag mark on a piece of paper to indicate the number in groups of five as he calculated his progress. True to life, he ate sixty-five and then added two more for good measure.
It was a fun day! I figure anything you host where people come together, visit and share time is a friendly and pleasant manner is a valuable experience. I, too, would like to think at the end of the day, I also met my goal of being friendly and personable. I didn’t try the crawfish. I failed to mention there were also shrimp. So I ate shrimp instead of crawfish. And yes, just for the record, I ate them by using my fingers. It isn’t my favorite medium, but like eating a chicken leg, shrimp also seem to work best if you use your fingers.
All My Best!