I’m still very intrigued by the fact that you kept a lobster once… did you save it from the pot? That’s great that she didn’t get that big and you were able to keep her at least for a little while.
OKAY, I guess I should explain more, because at this point, the Lobster Story has become the stuff of legend in my household.
To set the scene, me and my family were homeschooled up until high school, and Mom was really into trying to advance our knowledge/love of learning, so she got tons of little science-y type kits! We built volcanoes, we had little chemistry sets, you name it, we tried it. The Lobster Story took place before I was in high school, so sometime in the mid-90s, early 2000s.
One day, Mom shows up with this ‘Australian Blue Lobster’ kit. It was a similar idea to sea monkeys; you buy the set, which has an aquarium with 12 little cubes for the lobsters to live in, you mail away and receive live, tiny lobsters! The booklet explained that these lobsters were endangered (or threatened?), and that most of them died before they got to be one inch long. So the idea was, you raised them until they were a couple inches long and they could survive a little better in the ocean, you mailed them back to the company, and they released them into the ocean to help repopulate the lobster colonies! Neat idea, right?
So, all excited, we wait for the lobsters to arrive, we carefully assemble their little aquarium habitat (each cube is only an inch or two across, they are tiny lobsters at this point), and we read the booklet over and over about how to care for them. They have to be kept separate, or else they fight, and all you gotta do is feed them! Easy, right? We set them all up in their little cubes, pick out cute names for them, and go to bed.
The next morning, half of the lobsters are missing.
What the hell! We did everything right! How could they escape? As we start searching for the missing lobsters, we begin finding them in places that make no logical sense for lobsters to be - under the sofa, halfway to the front door, behind furniture. They are surprisingly fast. As soon as we bring them back, they start escaping again, and we have to watch our feet wherever we step, terrified to step on a stray lobster wandering on the floor! This continues for most of the day while we read and re-read the booklet that came with them, that was supposed to explain why our tiny Houdini army is currently escaping.
Turns out, lobsters are pretty good climbers, and the booklet mentioned nothing about putting a lid on the tiny cubes they live in.
After applying some saran wrap to the top of the cubes, the lobsters stop escaping - but we never find the final missing lobster. To this day, decades later, we have never found a tiny, decaying lobster carcass, so I’ve gotta assume he’s living in the walls and about three feet long by now.
Lobster count: 11
The lobster lives become pretty calm after that, and for several weeks/months, life is good. They eat their little lobster pellets, and they grow bigger and bigger, with handsome blue shells. My mom is probably worrying, at this point, how she is going to explain to the company that we sent back fewer lobsters than we received, but us kids aren’t worried about that. It’s just one lobster, right? Everyone loses one or two, no big deal!
Then, the lobsters start dying.
To little kids, any animal death is a painful one, even if it’s a tiny blue lobster who hasn’t endeared itself to you by trying to escape all of the time. But by now they’ve become familiar members of the household, and as each lobster slowly succumbs to whatever unknown ailment is attacking them, floating up at the top of the cage in a curled-up ball, a tiny funeral is held. Each lobster is lovingly wrapped in a soft cloth and buried in our back yard, and bid sadly farewell to. One by one, each lobster falls prey to a mysterious illness, and curls up and floats to the top, as dead as a lobster can be.
Finally, only one lobster is left; my lobster, named either Midnight or Magic, since I lost track of who was who during the Great Lobster Escape of last month. She (he?) manages to hold on for days after the others have all succumbed, and she is a lonely sight, the only occupied cube in a 12-cube complex of abandoned lobster apartments.
Lobster count: 1
A week later, death comes to the last apartment at the Lobster Arms, and the timing couldn’t have been worse; the entire family is stepping out of the door for a weekend vacation, when we sight Midnight or Magic curled up and floating at the top of the cage.
“Just leave him there,” my mom calls, long since exhausted by the lobster debacle, “we’ll bury him when we get home.”
Sadly, I bid adieu to Midnight/Magic, sad that at last, our lobster adventure has come to an end.
Lobster count: 0
We return, a few days later, anticipating a disgusting, rotting bit of dead lobster to clean up. There, at the top of the cube, is the floating, fuzzy-looking body we were waiting to find -
and sitting beneath it, Midnight/Magic, in her brand new shell.
A sense of wonder and relief washes over the family; Midnight/Magic isn’t dead at all! She molted her shell, something the booklet again never warned us about! She’s alive and well!
But … What about all of the lobsters we buried?
LOBSTER COUNT: EXISTENTIAL HORROR
IN ALL LIKELIHOOD, WE BURIED 10 LOBSTERS ALIVE.
Now, with one remaining living lobster, one missing lobster, and 10 buried-alive lobsters now definitely dead in our backyard, what do we do? We can’t very well send one lobster back to the company, they’re gonna ask what happened to the others, and we’re gonna have to tell them that we murdered an endangered species!!!
So in the end we simply kept Midnight Magic (now adopting both names, because why not, she’s the Highlander Lobster), and never contact the company ever again. We graduated her to an actual aquarium after she got too big for her original cube, and she lived for many years afterward, growing bigger and bluer every year. She probably got about five inches long, in total, which was pretty big to us! We got her a couple of guppies for roommates, and so she’d have something fun to chase in her tank.
I’ll tell you something, though: we didn’t bury her for weeks after she finally died, just to be sure.