Jenny Will Have Lobster
It's a big, brand new super market, and Jenny will have lobster.
The immense parking lot of the new Grand Union was so crowded, they had to walk a good ways to the front doors. The architecture was Spanish Massive. Huge columns of brick formed a covered archway over the automatic doors, the "valet station." Jenny's' mommy found an untended cart and rode Jenny the rest of the way in, through the potted flowers on either side of the double doors.
Inside, on a pedestal with green Astro-turf, sat a woman playing a harp. She wore glasses and what seemed to be a gold-flecked bed sheet. It didn't interfere with her playing, which was other-worldly to hear amidst the generals din and hustle-bustle. It seemed to transform the cavernous place into a delicate, undersea environment.
"Oh my God! It's wonderful!" Jenny's mommy sang as she wheeled Jenny in the general direction of the imported cheeses stand and the imported wine racks. They made their progress around the garden fresh produce section, the bake shop, the deli, and were finally to the meat and seafood counters, adjacent enterprises with full fledged shingled overhangs and gold embossed signs.
Jenny was drawn to a bubbling tank at her eye level. In it, lobsters lay huddled, or groped fitfully. Suddenly, she saw one lobster, staring at her, with eyes as clear and as meaningful as her own mother's eyes.
"Little girl!" She heard a crusty voice. "I pray you, I beg of you-- save my life! They're going to kill us, my mate, all of us here in the tank!" The bubbles swirled through the greenish water. "I beg you!" And she could see the old lobster crying. "Do what you can, do anything, I beg you!"
And he swept his claws imploringly. There were rubber bands on the claws, enormous rubber bands, hot yellow and blue.
Jenny turned to see her mommy entranced with the shiny slabs of red meat displayed under glass. Effusive plastic parsley garlanded around the stacks. The man behind the counter loomed, big handed and pale. Almost translucent. Almost meat.
Jenny grabbed, after some trouble, her mommy's hand.
"Mommy! Mommy up! I have we want for dinner! Tonight mommy!"
"You do? What?"
"This is, Mommy!" And she lugged her mommy steadfastly to the big tank.
"Lobster! Oh Jenny!"
"Jenny, Jenny...do you like lobster?"
"Are you sure you know what it is?"
"Yes! I like, I like lobster!"
"You'll have to have some of ours, I can't get you your own lobster. Well, okay. That'll be nice for Steve. Well then, I guess so. Do you see a good one? A big fat one?"
"I want this one, Mommy, and that one here!"
The girl behind the counter donned her brand new fisherman's gloves, and Jenny leaned nose and finger against the tank where the big old lobster and his mate had scuttled and entwined their back legs.
"These two... lovebirds?" the girl asked Jenny's mother.
"Well, I don't know, I'm looking at another one back here--"
Jenny clasped her hands ferociously in her mother's skirts.
"Jenny... I didn't know you knew so much about lobsters, honey." Jenny's mother rested her hand on Jenny's soft hair.
"I want these two. For you and Daddy. These two, Mommy."
"Okay, honey. Okay, baby. We'll take these two in the front, please."
The girl behind the counter lifted the lobsters, dripping, from the tank and wrapped them in thick white paper.
"Careful when you take them out, they're alive you know."
Outside, men were spray painting as Jenny and her mommy and the heaving cart perambulated over the jet black asphalt almost sticky. A brisk wind whipped into Jenny's hair, around her face, and into her eyes.
She sat next to the groceries in the back seat on the ride home, planning her escape route around the side of the house, and to the pool.
About the author:
Joel Patterson began life with an adventurous childhood in California. An inconclusive college career and a vagabond phase followed, and then he ended up married and homesteading in Vermont. Once his daughter was born, seeing the world through her eyes was always a revelation. These days he does audio and video production in Albany, New York.