It was about a decade, or so, ago when I trucked-in a couple dozen sacks of live crawfish from south Louisiana to Texarkana, Arkansas for re-sale. I would do this to pay for the cost of my 700 mile round-trip to my home town when I visited family and friends. I also made a fair profit for my efforts, too.
Nick, my partner, was helping me as we sold the mud bugs out of the back of my old pick-up truck on the west side of Hwy 71 South (south of the city limits) under a huge oak tree which, luckily for us, was strategically situated just a couple hundred feet from the only convenient store in the neighborhood. E-Z Mart - lots of traffic.
It was also next to a cut-off road (a short-cut of sorts) which led in the direction of the river bottoms to a gypsy settlement. That was the day when I discovered that gypsies, like us Cajuns, love to eat crawfish, too.
In fact, the bulk of our live crawfish was sold to them - mostly during their commute back home from work.
With a few magic markers and a poster I had printed the words "Live Crawfish for Sale" in large letters and affixed it to the tail-gate of my truck so everyone could see it. But, I'm getting a little off-track here.
Particularly, I wanted to recount how on that day, before the mad rush of sales began, this attractive pre-middle aged woman approached our vending area in a brand new cream-colored Cadillac convertible (top down). I especially noticed how long it took her to get out of her car.
When I focused on and through the dark-tinted windshield I could barely make-out that she was applying lipstick, adjusting her white oversize plastic-rim sunshades and ever-so-slightly tilting her rose-colored sun hat before making her way out of the vehicle.
I thought to myself, WOW! Big sale! ... on it's way! Then, almost simultaneously, I asked myself, "Why would she want to load a sack of mud bugs in that fancy brand new car?" Something wasn't quite right?
As she approached us I said something like, "howdy mam ... I do appreciate you stopping by ... today we are running a 50 lb. special for only twenty-five dollars", when she graciously and politely interrupted my sales spiel and said in a demur-sounding voice, "No, no ... I don't need to buy 50 lbs."
Then she asked, "how sturdy are they?"
I flinched and said, "beg your pardon, mam?
She repeated, "how sturdy are they?"
"I guarantee you mam that a couple of these craw dads tied together and tethered to the front bumper of your new car could probably pull you out of the ditch if you ever got stuck ... that's how sturdy they are", I bragged. (That was me trying to be funny.)
Then I continued on, "I assure you mam that they were swimming in water only yesterday and they are sturdy enough to keep alive at least 2 or 3 more days until you are ready to cook 'em up. All you gotta do is keep 'em dampened, cooled and tightly packed together in the sack. (That was me trying to be smart.)
Then she anchored those few words into my memory bank which have lasted to this day and will probably hang-on for many many more. "Oh no", she said. "I don't want to boil it or eat it ... I want it for my fish aquarium to help clean it out."
"She wants 'IT', I thought? ..."IT" ... as in ONE? ... as in SINGULAR? ... UNO?
Then she asked, "Is it okay if I pick-out the one I like?"
I looked-up at my partner and friend who was now grinning from ear-to-ear and then I looked back at her. Hell, I couldn't even make out what color eyes she had through those dark over-grown sunglasses. But, I did look into her shades and with one of those 'don't you feel like a total idiot smiles' I politely said, "Yes mam ... you betcha."
I then dumped-out a couple dozen into one of the empty buckets. These particular craw dads were at full maturity and were the 'red swamp' variety with the strong red pincers like the one in the photo above. One pinch could draw blood.
She gazed-down at the quarry and said, "Oh my! Which one should I choose?"
We ended-up giving her the one she picked-out (no charge), plus another one for good measure. We call it lagniappe.
Ahheee!! Those were the good 'ol days!