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“So then here is a question that’s all but unavoidable at the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker, and may arise in kitchens across the U.S.: Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?”

— David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster


This is it.

I’m a dead man walking. Well, technically, not a man. Also I guess I don’t so much walk as skitter on the ocean floor using my spider-like sea legs.

A dead Homarus skittering, then. American Lobster, to be precise, if not quite as pedantic.

Once considered fit only for prisoners. Now fit only for people who prefer to learn of the price of their meal after they’ve eaten it.

Either way, tonight it ends. My brief time here on the great round lobster tank.

If I’m being honest, I’m completely terrified. Not so much of the fact that I’ll be boiled alive, though I’m not exactly looking forward to that. Or that those mouth breathers at the Schenectady Red Lobster will crack open my lifeless shell and douse my insides with lemon and butter—and let’s not even get into the strange fetishization of my tail.

No it’s not the act of dying that terrifies me.

It’s what comes next. The state of being dead.

As an aside, would it be too much to ask for my captors to remove the rubber bands? I’m the only one left in the tank. Are they afraid I’ll try to hang myself with it? That’s not even possible, because of a little thing called buoyancy.

But, yes, death terrifies me. Why wouldn’t it? I’m not a human, but I’m still alive, you know? If you pierce my armor-like exoskeleton, do I not bleed a deep blue substance that may or may not be effective in the treatment of novel coronavirus? If you poison me, do I not die, like by definition of what it means to poison something? If you wrong me, do I not try to pinch your bulbous little nose on my way into the cauldron?

I know how they see me. As just some stupid invertebrate.

He’s barely capable of feeling pain, how could he possibly fear death? Well, not only am I capable of fearing death, I’m capable of having severe panic attacks induced by the existential dread of pondering my mere existence in the first place.

Like, why is there something at all? Not just me and my fellow crustaceans. But, like, all of it? The ocean, and the earth, and the universe, and space, and time? And quantum mechanics. WTF is that?!?!

What will happen to the effervescent pattern of neural activity that I call “me” once they’ve boiled my inner circuitry into a gelatinous, if not completely unappetizing, goo?

Wasn’t it Sartre who said, “Nothingness haunts being?” I’m pretty sure I overheard a philosophy major who worked on the lobster boats in between summers at Swarthmore say that once.

Besides, what is wrong with trying to cling to life?

To snap one’s oversized claws around it and refuse to let go? Though my attempt at this—in the form of the hashtag #LobsterLivesMatter—seems to have come to nothing. And I take little solace from the self-confessed Marxist on Twitter who tried to explain that this wasn’t the moment for lobsters—but that through the continued practice of intersectionality we too might one day be liberated from grocery store aquariums around the country.

No, I will not go quietly. I mean, I will, technically speaking, because I have no way to make noise, and also water is a terrible medium for propagating sound.

But I will not go gently.

I will rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Did I just come up with that? Or was that something else the philosophy major said?

Shit. I feel that chef’s fat little hands on my back. I see the pot all a-boil.




Pinch…….pinch……………….pinch……………………p   i    n……..

Jesse Stone

Jesse B. Stone loves science and writing. Apologies if you were looking for the "Jesse Stone" played by Tom Selleck in the CBS movies.

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