Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Somewhere in New York, a group of dedicated PETA members prevailed upon the owner of a famous fish restaurant/bar to spare the life of a 20 lb. lobster calculated to be 140 years old. So, said lucky lobster was ferried back to Maine and brought down by frogmen to the ocean depths from whence he came.

The news release, terse as usual did not elaborate on the the story behind the story ... which is much more interesting, especially to readers of my Fray Paco Series.

It just so happens that a friend of one of my conversational English students, an entrepreneur, was in New York at this fishery when Ling-Ling was discovered. The story he told in class was much more interesting ... and shows yet again the difference between how the people from the West and the East view the world.

Having made a bunch of money - the Entrepreneur decided to treat himself and his Chinese friends to a lobster dinner. Rather than order several small lobsters - they asked about the possibility of sharing one big lobster. When the large 9 kg lobster arrived - the Chinese immediately told their host that this was a very special and ancient lobster and would bring them all good luck. Of course, they could not eat such a wonderful creature - as it was quite old and should be treated with respect.

Most ignorant gweilo or gweipo ( foreign devil men or women ) would just gone ahead and eaten the lobster - and had a grand old time. Most haven't a clue as to the wonderful joss a 140 year old lobster will bestow in a year of yet more calamities, deseases, financial crack-ups and wars, perhaps those that will end all wars including the human race.

Upon hearing the story of the Lobster, the rich Chinese patrons of this particular restaurant offered a princely sum of money to save the lobster they named Ling -Ling. It was ten times higher than the price of devouring the creature. They informed the owner that he should show off Ling- Ling to all the restaurant's clients first. Lest they be tempted to sell the lobster to an even higher bidder, they stated unequivocally that they would double any offer.

And that is the true and marvelous story in the midst of all the horror we are witnessing, of how luscious Ling-Ling was returned to his hunting and stomping grounds. Hurrah!

Now I will wager one of my rare books that the Chinese involved were Shanghailanders. I very much doubt the Cantonese possess such beau geste. I like the Cantonese, though I confess a great partiality for the inhabitants of Shanghai. Yet as far as their stomachs are concerned, the Cantonese will eat anything on four legs except a chair.

Now I have to admit - I am not an expert on Lobsters - and didn't know that lobsters could live 140 years. In fact -- lobsters can live forever. Unlike us Humans -- they actually become more active (sexually, their metabolism, their hearts, etc.) as they get older. In fact - they don't get older in the same way that we are familiar with - they just get bigger and bigger and in most ways are as active and energetic as smaller and younger lobsters. Unless something happens to them - like getting caught - they just keep growing and getting bigger. This is why many scientists the world over are researching Lobsters to learn more about what it is that allows them to keep going and going - in the hopes we can change our genetic makeup to allow us to live longer and more active lives.

According to the research I did, lobsters have a very complex nervous systems and are particularly sensitive to coitus and pain. I say Oo La La to the coitus. They probably make more whoopee than any of us ever do. We are far too busy making money or war to take the time for the " C " word - Coitus.

I shudder at the pain. I mean pain as in being slowly boiled to death. It must be sheer agony for them. Unlike humans they do not go into shock. Their suffering must be indescribable. I just realized for the 100 thousandth time just how selfish and uncaring we humans are.

I am not sure if this information will be a deterrent to my delight in consuming lobsters. Especially, since my in-laws live in Boston - where there is always a large supply of tasty lobsters to eat. If I am invited out for a lobster dinner - I will insist that they must only serve us the small ones.

Lobsters are subjects of meticulous study by scientists, biologists and gerontologists because in essence they just go on and on, like turtles. They could live forever. And they have a jolly good time of it too.

To learn more about Lobsters - I found this wonderful article and podcast on NPR (National Public Radio - which is one of the things I miss most about living in the USA). I highly recommend the podcast ... especially the singing interview with Leroy the Lobster. It's both entertaining and informative.

Leroy's song got me to thinking. Wouldn't it be something if the key to increasing our life spans were to become more lobster-like. I can see it now - in this future world people kept getting bigger, stronger, and more energetic as they got older.

Imagine a world where all the people over 60 were over 7 feet tall ... with the libido and energy of 20 year olds - and hundred year olds were over 8 feet tall, and even more energetic. Finally young people would have a completely different opinion of us oldsters. Of course, if this were to happen we probably wouldn't care about what young people thought about us because we'd be busy chasing each other around and having fun.

Makes me almost want to be a old lobsteresse.


  1. What a wonderful story, Isabel. I don't eat lobster that often, and after reading this, I don't know if I will ever be able to again, even one of the small ones. Thank you for the post.


  2. Did you know, lobsters are specialised spiders?

    Whenever you eat a lobster, you eat a spider.

    And that doesn't bother me at all.

    But I do agree, that it was good and noble to save the life of that ancient lobster.

  3. One more thing. You wrote,

    "Now I will wager one of my rare books that the Chinese involved were Shanghailanders."

    But I must remind you that most of what you admire in Shanghai, is very alien to the vast majority of Chinese.

    "China" is, and always has been, a vast continental civilisation consisisting of many nationalities and languages, even more than "Europe". And to love "Shanghai" is approximately equivalent to loving a handful of rich people and rich shops in Paris.

    Loving the richest parts of Paris DOES mean that you love SOME parts of "Western civilisation", but only scratching the surface. And the same is true for loving the rich parts of "Shanghai", which is barely the tip of the iceberg of the ancient, vast, complicated, and perdurable civilisation of China.

  4. OK, the lobsters live eternally, and we can live forever too.
    But mixing our DNA with the lobster's one, then we'll look like a lobster?
    And when we'll walk on the sea shore we'll contnue to walk or rather we feel the needle to dive into the deepest sea?
    And then, we can be sexual active forever, but what kind of creauture we will love?
    Women look like models or something looks like a lobster?
    Naaa, it's too dangerous.
    I'm glad of my DNA as it is right now.

  5. To John Ball: A little bird told me (no, not Fray Paco) that today is your birthday. Happy Birthday, John, and many happy returns of the day.



  6. To John Ball: A little bird told me (no, not Fray Paco) that today is your birthday. Happy Birthday, John, and many happy returns of the day.




Isabel Van Fechtmann

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