Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Ballad of Mr. Pinchy Pants

Let me begin this post by stating that I love animals. Some of my best friends are animals. I mean, I am not an extremist in my animal love; I've never protested a circus or tossed red paint on an Olsen twin, but I would say that I am definitely a big fan of almost all animals (the obvious exception being the naked mole rat). And it is because of my love for all most of God's creatures that I feel so guilty about what happened last Saturday night.

Our local watering hole is home to a particularly terrible "game" called Lobster Zone. It is essentially a giant claw machine, but instead of cheap stuffed animals, you pull out live lobsters.

So messed up.

For $2 a pop, you can "fish" for a lobster, and if you win, the bar will cook it up for you. How PETA allows this company to exist is beyond me. I suppose it's not really all that different from choosing a lobster out of the tank at a restaurant, but I think it's the fact that it has been turned it into a sadistic game that makes it so distasteful. And I EAT lobster!

My only consolation is that no one ever catches anything. I've watched drunk men pour more cash into that machine than they probably spent on drinks, and no one ever gets a lobster. The lobsters are too smart. They congregate around the edges of the tank where it's difficult to reach them, and if they do get picked up by the claw, the squirm themselves free and drop back into the tank.

It was my certainty that lobsters never get caught, and the fact that I have never in my life won a stuffed animal in a regular claw machine that led me to the Lobster Zone tank that fateful night. After a couple of drinks, all my morals go out the window apparently. I borrowed the two bucks from a friend and fed them into the machine. I maneuvered the claw to the far right corner of the tank and hit the red button. There were only three lobsters in the tank at the time, so it shouldn't have been hard for the little critters to run around to avoid impending doom. However, that sorry sucker in the far right corner didn't move. And as the claw descended, I knew that my crustacean friend and I were in trouble.

"Don't get him, don't get him, don't get him," I chanted. I had been so certain that I wouldn't win, that I hadn't stopped to consider the consequences of actually capturing a lobster. Sure enough, my little buddy just sat there and let the claw swallow him up. My panic rose as it pulled him up out of the water. "Wriggle free!" I shouted. I had seen so many other lobsters wriggle their way out of the claw -- what was this guy's problem?! It was like he wanted to die!

He hung there limply as the claw carried him over to the deposit box and dropped him. Oh shit. I had won. I ran over to tell my friend the bad news. "Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. I won a lobster." He tried to give me a high-five, which would have been very nice under ordinary circumstances, but not today. I was about to be responsible for the death of an innocent creature.

I alerted Anthony the bartender, and he came over to remove my friend from the deposit box. "Please set him free!" I pleaded. "His name is Mr. Pinchy Pants!" Anthony let me pet Mr. Pinchy Pants on his shell. "You're not going to cook him, right?" I asked. Anthony smiled and assured me that they would place him in a special saltwater tank in the back until he could be released to the ocean.

Phew! I sure am glad that they have a special tank in the back of the bar for all the people that accidentally win lobsters and then have a change of heart. That totally relieves my guilt. I'm hoping that the next time I go in I'll be able to visit him, and maybe give him a little plankton to nibble on. Good boy, Mr. Pinchy Pants. Good boy.

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