Charlie recoiled when I put the steaming, red lobster in front of him. When he recovered he looked at it, then at me. "Why isn't it crawling around?" he said slowly.
I immediately regretted letting an older cousin play with the live lobsters on the porch earlier that day. They'll do a headstand if you hypnotize them by rubbing their back with your finger. Charlie had shrieked and jumped onto an end table after a loose lobster had started approaching him, very slowly, across the porch. We've not yet had such a vivid lesson on "where our food comes from" and I was not prepared. My aunt saved the day. "It's ready to eat, Charlie!"
This answer satisfied him and I reminded him he would be having a little bit of Ryan's lobster, but that Grandma had made him a sandwich and cut up an orange for him. He stared at Ryan, who was expertly dismembering the lobster with a tiny fork and a nutcracker. His eyes widened when Ryan squeezed a shiny piece of meat out of a leg like toothpaste, dipped it in butter, and offered it to him.
"No, thanks," he said, and took another piece of orange out of his bowl. A few minutes later, curiosity got the best of him. And then he ate Ryan's entire lobster, pausing only to make the pink, fleshy claw meat "pinch" at an imaginary finger and say "snap snap snap!!" I made a mental note to consider giving vegetarianism another go, as soon as these hamburger and french fry cravings subside.
We all sat around the table to keep Ryan company when someone took pity on him and brought him a second lobster so he wouldn't go to bed hungry. My mom asked Charlie if he had enjoyed his first taste of lobster. Charlie responded, "I like the meat inside, but you can't eat the plastic."