Don’t Eat the Lobster
It was three summers ago, and I was pregnant with Katerina. Like the other two pregnancies, I had horrible morning sickness and needed to eat every moment in order to prevent my usual and very embarrassing dry-heaving. As much as I normally love to eat, morning sickness eating is pure misery. I was five months along and we decided we would take a road trip to Nova Scotia. The name alone sounded so cool, and we were so inept with our geography skills, we didn’t even realize until we were at customs that we could drive to our destination. The Canadian customs agent must have been shaking her head as we had driven off, chalking us up as yet another clueless and geographically-challenged family. The agent had patiently explained that there was a land bridge, and therefore there wasn’t need to take a ferry.
We first stopped in Manhattan for two nights and met my oldest brother and his family. My sister in-law did a fine job of picking out a delightful restaurant called Penelope’s in the Greenwich Village area. Back in those days, I believed if I had a girl I’d name her Penelope (aren’t you pleased little Katerina, that your Mama changed her mind?). I still remember eating a fairly decent lobster roll and had a giant chocolate chip cookie for dessert. The atmosphere was jazzy and I hadn’t been possessed by a wandering palette, asking what if a better dinery was near. My brother was irritated that we only shelled out around a hundred dollars for our 4 or 5 star hotel while they had paid much more, (thank you Priceline, even though I despise your business). They made for great company and it was obvious my brother missed living near here, with his quickened energetic pace along with his Bob Dylan look of hands in pockets.
Elizabeth and I also went on a date at the American Girl place. It is beautiful and girly, decorated in black and pink in the restaurant. We had pink lemonade and warm cinnamon rolls to start. I was giddy with the pleasant atmosphere and enjoying my little daughter immensely. She took great care of her Samantha doll and I should add this was our second visit here. We’d visited the year before around Easter. The food is wonderful, with an included appetizer and dessert. Naturally, I gave Elizabeth my chocolate mousse.
It took a couple more days to make it to Maine. We’d stopped for one night in Salem, MA. The kids enjoyed playing by the water, and we dined near the harbor so Nikolas could delight in the boats. A mouse scurried by my feet as I was eating and I screamed and ate the rest of my meal with my feet up in the chair. I’d picked a lovely hotel built in the 19th century, yet the poor kids were still waiting to swim in a pool. We went on a ghost walk which wasn’t overly scary to prevent especially five year old Nikolas from going to sleep that evening. Earlier in the day, however, was a creepy and very hokey reenactment of the Salem witch trials, held in an old church. The following day we were off to Maine.
My only recollection of Maine was when I was fifteen and visited with my dad, grandma and brothers. My dad did far better than I at the planning of that trip. All I wanted was to take a walk in the evening with the fog encircling our feet, and hearing our footsteps on the cobblestone streets, once again. There was none of that this trip, because I had failed to do any real research. Honestly, my pregnancy aversion even had me nauseous of the smell of the computer keyboard back then!
We made it to Acadia National Park in the early evening. There was a quaint and picturesque town brimming over with tourists. The long and winding road…and now I’m stuck with a Beatles song in my head, carried us to a campground. The only sites that were left happened to be a quarter of a mile walk from the car. This is very difficult to accomplish with two kids then and a huge tent, gear, and all the rest. Nikolas had an army hat on and looked so incredibly cute and boyish. Elizabeth carried her American Girl doll and too many accessories, even though I’d warned her to leave them in the car. We sat in our camping chairs while Nikos pitched the tent. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about camping, especially since I was already so huge in my four and a half months of pregnancy, my hips killed me even sleeping in a big soft bed.
Once all was properly set, we drove thirty or so minutes until we found a cozy little water-side restaurant. I could not wait to feast on fresh lobster, dripping with clarified butter. The crowded inn was on the water, and waving hello or I should say farewell greetings were the fifty plus lobsters in the clear tub of water. We had to wait twenty minutes to be seated, and someone occupied the ladies restroom for most of that wait. I was entirely grossed out when she finally exited, imagining the germs and the smell awaiting me. Being pregnant, highly sensitive to scent, hungry, nauseous and always needing an unlocked bathroom took more patience than dealing with the evil torture-obsessed clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Nikolas clung to the lobster pool, I’m not sure out of fascination or the fact that he was craving a swim on the trip since we still hadn’t indulged him. Meanwhile Elizabeth was close to tears, feeling sorry that we were going to eat some of the unlucky few crustaceans with their literally beady eyes. My envy surged every time the server passed by with her arms like pedestals carrying beautiful plates to other diners. The four of us ordered whole lobsters. What took as long as if I’d gone out in a small boat and waited to catch a fish, we finally received our bounty. Huge platters with a treasure of red shell, mashed potatoes and green beans was the only thought in my head as I happily feasted. I remember telling the kids we could eat whole lobsters every day while on our trip. After all, for a two pound lobster, it was a mere $12. I am sure there are some readers out there questioning how a pregnant woman could feel guiltless and eat tabooed shellfish, due to all of the warnings of high mercury levels and other chemical industry-induced pollutants absorbed by the fish. Here it is, I do not smoke, drink alcohol, even use sunscreen because of its estrogenic properties, drink any coffee or other caffeinated drinks while pregnant, so please, step aside and let a pregnant lady eat some lobster!
I had polished off my lobster and it was convenient that Elizabeth refused to eat another bite when she discovered a vein in hers, because I was still hungry. After I had eaten most of what was left of Elizabeth’s I generously told Nikos that he could finish Nikolas’ mostly eaten leftovers. Nikolas wanted the claws as a souvenir and put them over his hands and I guess he was trying to act like he was a lobster. I didn’t care what the kids were doing, I was in a delirium of lobster heaven. The place had cleared out while we waited for our check. I noticed a new mom with her baby girl and what looked like her in-laws. She was far too uncomfortable sitting there for the couple to be her own parents. The grandma readjusted the pink toile and brown blanket on the infant at least seventeen times. This might have been her first grand baby and she didn’t look comfortable either. The new mother looked far better than I would have even two years postpartum.
As we waited for the bill, my legs began to itch. All of the sudden the restaurant seemed dirty and I wondered if there were bugs in the place. I just kept scratching like our skanky cat does with her fleas. Then it moved to my belly and hips until my entire body was itching. My arms began to be covered in red whelps and Nikos just sat with wide horrified eyes, speechless. The waitress and then the owner told me I was allergic to lobster. I said that was impossible since I’d eaten it many times at Red Lobster. Neither had heard of such a place. The lady expressed that the lobster I’d ingested had been caught just hours before, and it wasn’t uncommon for a person to have an allergic reaction to it when it is so fresh. The owner told me I needed some Benadryll. When I told her I didn’t have any, she questioned what kind of mother I was if I didn’t carry it at all times with me, especially on vacation. Here I was itching manically, being scolded for not drugging my kids regularly, and not exactly loving Maine.
It was close to ten, and Nikos began driving along the winding fog-filled road to find a gas station or store. Nikos was freaked out, asking me why I had to be a social introvert and outdoorsy wanna be, why couldn’t I simply want to go to an amusement park. We called my friend Lisa, to get my other friends number, who is a DO. The phone service kept going in and out, and my whelps now covered me completely except for my head. The first thing Tamara said was that pregnant women should not eat shellfish-yeah, I already knew that, thank you! The second thing was that we needed to find a hospital if my throat was swelling and I needed Benadryll. Nikos was now on a mission, yet the visibility was poor and we hadn’t a clue where we were. The kids were exhausted which meant it was time for tears. Elizabeth has a mild case of hypochondria, and began believing that she also was having an allergic reaction especially to the “disgusting blue vein”. Nikolas fell asleep first, and finally Elizabeth. Hearing about her afflictions and scratching mine at the same time was an ugly combo.
We came across a gas station, but it was closed. Then another and yet another was closed. Finally, Nikos found one, but they didn’t carry Benadryll, but the attendant directed Nikos where to go. My arms were even bleeding a little from all of the frantic scratching. I was going insane, being tortured for an hour and a half of the craziest itching ever known. Finally, the angels were singing “ahhhh” as we pulled up to a gas station with florescent lights illuminating against the black misty night. Nikos brought back a single serving size of Benadryll. Nikos had to open it for me and I only took one. The rest of the night was over for me. In thirty seconds flat, I was out, and I mean blacked out, like that night sky.
There’s only one thing left that I remember from that horrid night. We were in the parking lot at the campground and I remember Nikos grabbing my arm hard, and the rest is left to Nikos for recapping. Nikos managed to get us back to the campground close to 12:30 in the morning. He couldn’t imagine how he was going to carry the two kids the quarter of a mile path to the tent, let alone a conked out and way too big for four months pregnant lady. He had pulled me to standing, while he gathered the slumbering kids and the next thing he saw was that I was free falling backwards, and at the last second he grabbed my arm, just before I slammed my head on the ground. Nikos said he had Elizabeth over one shoulder, and Nikolas and me on the other and he sort of dragged us along the “ten” mile path. I can’t imagine all of the cussing that transpired and how many times Nikos questioned why he ever married a camping-crazed, lobster fanatic who nags her way to get to Maine, just to be covered in red whelps!