When I was living in Japan back in the late 80’s my mom, my youngest brother Tim and his then-fiancee Erin came to visit for a few weeks. My mom grew up in Japan, so our outings weren’t all the usual gaijiin sight-seeing kind of things. Although we did some of those too.
Mom wanted to go shopping, to places the gaijiins didn’t frequent. Places she remembered fondly from her youth. One of the BIGGIES was Japanese grocery stores, where she would browse happily down every aisle, looking at every item, buying whatever she could that she couldn’t get back in Texas that would make it home safely in her suitcase. Which was a LOT, because the Japanese were already years ahead of us on packaging things in stay-fresh packs (like they’re selling tuna in now). (You can get condensed milk in squeezable tubes, like toothpaste. Is that cool or what???)
On one such outing I had long finished my shopping, and she was still only halfway through the store, Tim and Erin in tow. So I handed out Pocky Sticks to my kids to keep them entertained and chatted with a couple of Japanese people who came up to give them 500 yen coins for the chance to stroke their blonde hair for good luck.
We finally ended up standing in an out of the way corner next to the fresh seafood counter while we waited. I was sucking the chocolate off a Pocky Stick and idly staring at the trays of various clams, shellfish, and snails, all of them so fresh they were still alive, although very sluggish, since the trays were on ice.
The tray nearest me was piled with some type of saltwater snails the size of my fist, and I was noticing how they were all uniformly the same size and species (Japanese meticulousness at work, since I’m sure they come in varying sizes in nature!) when one of them caught my eye. It had the same shell as all the rest, but instead of a snail inside, there was a dead hermit crab, his lifeless legs hanging limply out the opening. His cold tolerance apparently wasn’t quite as high as that of the snails. He’d obviously been mistaken for one of them, because of the way he was “dressed”.
The thought that struck me, gazing at the sad little dead hermit crab, which I thought to him silently, was a very typical mother thing…
You *see* what happens when you hang out with the wrong kind of people?!?