David Schaeffer (of my earlier “cherry bomb” story) and I spent a lot of time together during our high school years. His dad was a rice farmer and behind their house was one of the fields his dad worked. Many times we’d pack up our camping equipment and some firewood and make our way out to the back part of that field for a camp-out. It was always an adventure for us.
For irrigation purposes, there are canals that run through the fields. Just guessin,’ I’d say they were probably some 25 or so yards across and we’re only slightly above waist-deep in water. We built make-shift rafts out of old plywood signs, to which we’d attach 55-gallon drums to the underside. We each had a raft and a long pole, which we would use to push and navigate our rafts up and down the canal. And, of course, we’d often jump in for a swim on those hot summer days.
The bottom of the canal was shin to knee-deep in mud — sourmud. For some reason, mussels seemed to thrive in that mud. (For those who may not be familiar with mussels, they resemble a clam.) David and I knew that mussels could be eaten. On one outing we decided to dig some mussels out of that mud with our toes and take them up to his house to cook ‘em. I think we bagged 13. We picked up our camping stuff and headed home.
David and I had hunted and eaten a lot of wild stuff, but neither of us had a clue as to how to clean a mussel. We just slammed ‘em on the sidewalk ‘til they broke open, pulled everything out of the shell and tossed it in a Tupperware™ bowl. We rinsed ‘em off in the sink, put ‘em in some raw egg and rolled ‘em in a pan of flour and fried ‘em ‘til they were golden brown.
Then we flipped a coin. I never knew whether I won or lost, but I had to eat the first mussel.
I picked one up, dredged it through a large puddle of ketchup (that’ll fix ANYTHING, right?) and proceeded to bite the thing in half. At that point I figured it should have been spelled “muscle,” ‘cause I thought I never would get it to come apart. Finally it did.
I looked at the half I had left in my hand. It looked kinda like someone had chewed up some broccoli and stuffed it into a piece of meat. I realized the other half was in my mouth and it wasn’t tastin’ too good. The ketchup was gone, but everything else was still there.
I grabbed my glass of tea and washed it down. (Don’t ask why I didn’t just spit it out. I don’t know.)
David didn’t even taste one of the delicacies. And I’ve never had another one. For about a month, anyone could walk up to me and say “oyster,” “clam,” “mussel” or even “shrimp” and I’d might near gag.
Life’s an adventure. I’m livin’ it up!
Randy McLelland, a.k.a. Randy Mac, is senior pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship Church on FM 202. He plays the role of "Grandpa" in The Promise and, through his “Livin' It Up” ministries, is a motivational speaker and Christian entertainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 817-454-3386. Visit his Web site at www.randymac.com.