On Sunday Jack arrived back home after a shopping expedition with four crab nets and various other fishing odds and ends in hand. “I want to take Anna crabbing!” he announced. “We should all go crabbing!”

All right, I thought. I hadn’t been crabbing in decades, but I remembered it as being a very laid-back activity wherein one baited the nets with chicken parts and then threw them into the water and then waited while entertaining oneself with other activities such as fishing or looking at the water or general enjoyment of the outdoors. Anna had been dying to go fishing for quite some time, especially since winning a very nice fishing pole when she took third place in a little mini-fishing tournament during the grand opening of the local Academy Sports and Outdoors store. (It was was one those contests where they have a big vat of fish and the kids try and catch them, and the kids can win a prize according to how big a fish they can catch. Anna caught the third biggest fish, and thus won a cute little fish trophy, as well as an Ugly Stik fishing pole. She could not have been prouder if she’d won a Nobel Prize.)

Anna had gymnastics on Monday, and so it was decided that we would go late in the afternoon on Tuesday, after Anna got out of school and Jack got off work. Various plans were put into place, and at about 4:30pm we gathered everything up and loaded the car and prepared to head off to the pier at the very end of Main Street in Madisonville (which, by the way, you have to go through several miles of swamp on a narrow and rutted one lane road to get to.)

As we were piling into the car I noticed dark clouds on the horizon and I pointed out that it looked like it might rain.

“My daddy always said that rain was the best time to go crabbing!” Jack replied. Meanwhile I wondered if his daddy had an almost-seven-year-old in tow, but I declined to make further comment.

We made it to the end of Main Street and found the pier quiet and deserted. The wind was beginning to pick up a bit and the water was getting somewhat rough, and we agreed that fishing might have to wait until another time. I noticed that the grey skies seemed to be quite darker and closer, and so we untangled the nets and baited them as quickly as we could, and then Jack and Anna went and put them in the water at various spots along the pier.

While we were doing all of this, a Chevy Bronco-type vehicle came slowly into the pier area and parked near the boat landing, but no one got out. I eyed the truck as I finished tying raw chicken wings onto the nets and wished I’d thought to bring my gun, since we were in the middle of goddamn nowhere. But then the truck backed up and turned around and I saw that there was a Coast Guard emblem on the side.

“Probably wondering what kind of idiots we are to be out right now,”Jack remarked as they drove off and as the first heavy drops of rain started to hit us. The three of us scrambled back into my car (which, by the way, I bought last October, so it is still fairly new and lovely) and settled in to wait for the crabs to find the bait and for the rain to pass. The rain wasn’t too heavy, but I still noticed that the clouds were a LOT darker and closer and uglier.

About this time another car came driving through the parking lot. It proceeded to the far end near the lighthouse, and then slowly made its way back and then parked near us. No one got out, and the windows were tinted. No Coast Guard symbol on this one. After a few minutes—after I again regretted not bringing my gun–I said, “I’m going to check the nets before it gets too ugly,” since it had been about ten minutes since the first one had been put out and I wanted to get a better look at who was in the car next to us. The rain was starting to come down a bit harder now, and I flipped up the hood of my sweatshirt and went out onto the pier. As I did about six teenage boys piled out of the other car and made their way onto the pier. I gave them my best hard glare and they retreated to the other side and pretended to ignore me. I had no idea what they were up to, but they didn’t seem to be at all interested in bothering me and so I ceased to worry about them.

I pulled the first net up and saw that a cute little crab about three inches across—including legs—was in the trap. I pulled it out and held it up for Jack, who had followed me out when he saw the boys get out of their car. “Here, show this to Anna!” I said, giving him the crab. He returned to the car as I checked the rest of the nets, then I too got back into the car—quickly since the rain was getting harder.

“I dropped the crab,” he said as soon as I closed the door.

“Well, where is it??” I replied.

He gestured to the tiny space between the seat and the console. “Somewhere down there.”

Meanwhile our poor daughter, who had by this time lost all desire to fish or crab or anything, had her feet pulled up onto her seat and was NOT HAPPY at the thought of a crab roaming around willy-nilly in the car. Neither was I, but for different reasons. We made an effort to locate the crab, but we didn’t have a flashlight and it was difficult to see anything, and the rain was getting hard enough that I didn’t really want to open the door and do the maneuvering that would be required to look under the seats.

At this time I finally had a flicker of intelligence and decided to check the radar on my phone to see how much rain we were in for.

This is a close approximation of what the radar showed:

Scary radar with ugly storm

“Um, Jack, maybe we should pull the nets and try this another day.”

The rain was really starting to come down hard now and he looked at me doubtfully. “We could just leave the nets here.”

“No, that would be littering!” I responded with a remarkable lack of common sense. “And I don’t want to throw away perfectly good nets!”

Anna made a brief plea to come with me, and I shot that down fast—eyeing the dark clouds which were now ON TOP of us. I dashed out of the car and made my way down the pier—quite grateful for the railings since the storm had progressed to where gusts of wind were making it difficult to walk and maintain balance and I REALLY didn’t want to get blown into the water. Really.

By the time I had the first two untied I was soaked through, and my face was stinging from what felt like hail. The wind had risen to the point where I had to be super cautious about my footing and where I was forced to hold tightly to the rail, but I finally managed to make it back to the car with two nets.

“I can’t get the knot undone on that last one!” Jack shouted over the wind and hail as he handed me a net and we shoved the three we’d retrieved into the back of my car. I gave him my pocket knife so that he could cut through the rope, and finally we had the last net and we both made it back into the car—freezing, soaking wet, and laughing our asses off.

Anna was NOT amused by the whole thing, and I mentally added a few thousand dollars to the fund for the therapy she was surely going to require someday. I told her that she needed to look at the fun side of this, because now she could tell everyone she knew how idiotic her parents were. She continued to be unamused, and demanded that we return home NOW. We obliged—quickly, since we wanted to be sure we made it back through the swamp before the roads were covered by water.

We made it back safely home and Anna dashed inside the nice, safe, warm, dry house. Jack and I pulled the crab nets out of the car since they still had raw chicken legs tied to them, left them in the driveway and then ran inside where we proceeded to shed our thoroughly sodden clothing and continued to giggle about what morons we were. Later, after we were warmed up and the scary rain had passed we went back out to the car in an attempt to locate our runaway crab, but had no luck. We finally decided we’d pull everything out of the car in the morning and find the damn crab.

Unfortunately, even armed with flashlights and after emptying the car of everything that could be removed, we could find no sign of the crab. However, I did find a spot under the seat where a number of wires go under the carpet, and I have a sinking feeling that the crab made its way into a nice dark under-the-carpet hole. And, surely, proceeded to die, since crabs don’t exactly thrive in the air.

So, in a few days, I’m sure I’ll be able to find the crab. Or at least the general area where it decided to make a home.

And the next time Jack wants to go crabbing, I’m going to check the radar first. And we’ll be taking HIS car.