By Wayne Chan
Northwest Asian Weekly
There’s something about fishing, or in my case, crabbing, that brings out the worst in people. We live in California, but every year, we head up north to the Pacific Northwest, and every year, I go on a fishing or crabbing expedition.
And every year, I come up empty-handed.
To make things worse, something in my caveman, macho, chromosome Y, DNA makeup requires that prior to any expedition, I pump up expectations to stratospheric levels.
Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. Why don’t you be the judge?
Here are some of the more interesting boasts, most of which I saved for my wife Maya:
1) For the crab I’m bringing home tonight, you may need to get a few more gallons of butter.
2) With the crab I’m bringing back, if a nutcracker doesn’t work, maybe we can rent the jaws of life.
3) Get set, baby — tonight, it’s not surf and turf! Tonight, it’s surf and more surf!!!
Of course, when my wife rolls her eyes, I become ever more determined to show her that I am the king of all things crab.
So, on the final day of our vacation, my friend and I set out to prove that we were more than just talk. We had our crab traps, our bait, our crabbing attire (swimsuit and t-shirt), and a huge plastic bin that was half the size of our inflatable boat.
Yes, I did say “inflatable boat.” Upon reflection, it’s funny that neither one of us saw the inherent flaw of going out to the open ocean carrying sharp, wire-metal traps looking for spiny legged crabs with sharp pinchers on an inflatable boat. I don’t think you’ll ever see that on the TV show “The Deadliest Catch.” But that’s another story altogether.
The other thing we didn’t consider was checking the Weather Channel before we set out. If we had done that, maybe we would have reconsidered taking a little rubber inflatable boat in the middle of the ocean searching for crab during a torrential rain storm.
As we set our inflatable boat in the water in the pouring rain, the only thought in my head was, “We just have to catch one. Just catch one and I can gloss over everything I said before. All I need is one. Please somebody — just give me one.”
If anyone was trying to hear my pleas, they were most likely drowned out by the torrential rain enveloping us, or perhaps they were drowned out by a bevy of crab, mocking us from below.
In either case, we were undeterred. We set our traps, tossed them into the water, and waited. And waited. Every time we pulled them up, the traps kept coming up empty. The only difference between our attempts was that the traps kept looking cleaner and cleaner each time we pulled them up, as if to emphasize how pristine and “crab-free” the waters were.
After a couple of hours, with the monsoon-like rain filling up our dinghy like a cup of tea, we decided to head back…empty handed.
Fortunately, in the 30 minutes it took to row our waterlogged dinghy back to shore, I had plenty of time to develop a strategy. It was too late to go to a seafood store and fake it. I’m sure Maya would immediately question why the crabs were frozen or why there were rubber bands wrapped around their claws.
I had to think fast. Tell me what you think of my excuses.
1) The torrential rain made me rethink my priorities. I decided to become a Buddhist, which means that instead of catching crab, I was practicing mindfulness.
2) There’s an old Inuit tradition to eat all the crab on the boat and toss everything overboard when you are done.
3) It was my partner’s fault.
4) Once we got into the water, we realized that crabbing season didn’t really start until the day after we left.
5) We actually caught a lot of crabs, but in the end, I had a hankering for pizza instead so … I became a vegan. Please reread excuse #1.
6) We caught plenty of crab, but in good conscience, I couldn’t permit my friends and family to eat something with such high cholesterol levels, so…
Next year — salmon fishing. Watch out sockeye — here we come! ♦
Wayne Chan can be reached at email@example.com.