hepatitis on the half-shell

The story I’m about to share is gag-worthy.  In fact, if you are pregnant, in the middle of your lunch, or just plain queasy, I’m giving you fair warning.

First, a little background.  JAFTA WILL EAT ANYTHING.  He is my little foodie.  He loves sushi.  He doctors his beans and rice with five kinds of spices.  He likes hot sauce on everything.  It’s great having a kid so willing to try new foods, but before you get too jealous of me, let me disclose that I also have a daughter whose list of allowed foods include white flour, white sugar, or cheese, as long as there are no sauces or visible grains involved.

So. On Friday, I had a babysitter and decided to pick up Jafta from school and have a little one-on-one time with him.  I do try to plan “dates” with the kids, but I am also really busy, so sometimes I have to do a little multi-tasking.  I sold Jafta on a bike ride to the beach, which would allow me to get a run in  We do this bike path often.  In fact, you can read another disgusting story about this bike path here.

It all started out well.  Jafta managed to avoid riding his bike through any horse droppings on the path, I managed to listen to a podcast without anyone asking me to change it to the Tangled soundtrack.  Winning.

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We got to the beach and it was an unusually low tide, so that there were massive sandbars in either direction.  You can only reach this beach by taking the bike path in, so it is often empty.  It was just Jafta and I, and about 100 seagulls.  We took off our shoes and walked out on the sandbar, and Jafta chased seagulls while I stretched my sore legs.

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Then Jafta started collecting seashells, and he found one with a living creature still inside.  I still don’t know what this thing was.  An oyster?  A mussel?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that it is perhaps the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.  It looks like something I might have coughed up during a really bad head cold.  So gross.

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(Seriously, I just had to scroll down so I could type without looking at that thing.  I am gagging right now).

I should also mention that I have an irrational fear/aversion to all things related to the sea.  I will not eat fish, or seafood, in any form.  I just think it’s nasty.  But also – marine life? The depths of the ocean?  It’s all just creepy to me.  Something about whales and planton sea anemones and all that stuff going on underwater just gives me some weird feelings of existential angst. 

In an effort to try to hide my neurosis from Jafta, I started to talk to him about what he found.  (I also did this because any hint that someone is a bit squeamish is a cue to his 6-year-old brain to chase them around with the object).  So I explained that it was an animal that lived inside a shell, and some people eat them.  Which he took as  cue to eat it.

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And he did.

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Now I’m standing there speechless, because never in a million years did I think he would eat the thing, and he’s got a string of it hanging out of his mouth and I am practically dry-heaving.  And suddenly I feel a little panicked, because . . . are they really okay to eat?  I mean, I’ve heard of people eating raw oysters.  Was it an oyster?  I don’t know.

And even though I have animal-as-food aversions, I tried to be open minded.  I mean, this is pretty much free-range, local, sustainable food, right?  He found his own food and ate it.  I can appreciate that.  I think Alice Waters would approve.

But then I started thinking – wait, isn’t there some kind of risk to eating oysters?  This has never been of interest to me since I don’t eat them, but I seem to recall some controversy.  And then I panicked a little.  And I started posting pictures from my phone, in the hopes that someone on facebook or twitter would say, Haha – that’s fine! We eat them all the time!

Instead, I got a suggestion to call poison control.

So. To review.  We are on a secluded beach, nearly two miles from our car, and my son has eaten some kind of sea creature that may be poisonous, and I have an anxiety disorder and no access to WebMD.

Meanwhile, Jafta has found two more shells with similar food and is begging me to eat them, and when I say no, he asks if he can put them in his pocket as a snack for later.

Anyways, long story short, we made it back (I ran really fast!) and he did not die. And I googled to my heart’s content when I got home.  What I found was NOT GOOD

So the moral of the story is . . . the five second rule does not apply to things washed in with the tide.


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