“I don't think horseshoe crabs can bite, can they?” I asked. It was a question a person could only ask while on vacation, like: “Do my feet look sunburned to you?” or,
“What day of the week is it again?”
“Maybe not, but it sure looks like they could pinch or sting,” she said.
The crab scooted a little deeper into the sand while it waited for us to sort this out.
For our tenth anniversary, Kara and I were exploring Block Island, Rhode Island, which sounds redundant, until you realize that the people who named Rhode Island clearly had no idea what the word “island” meant. Or maybe they did.
“By the time the tourists realize there's only water on one side, they'll be in Connecticut. Forsooth!”
But unlike Rhode Island, Block Island is actually an island, and its miles of beaches proved to be a wonderful place to pretend that we didn’t have kids for five days.
“You’re at the beach? Without me?” our five-year-old son Evan wailed into our videoconference on our third night there.
“Should have stuck with plain old phone calls,” I whispered.
“We found some pretty shells for you today, buddy!” Kara said, trying to pull the conversation out of the fire, holding her phone closer to her face so that Evan couldn’t see the sand behind her.
“I wanna be at the beach!” he wailed.
We’d been rather vague about this trip with our two sons, telling them that Mommy and Daddy were going on a date for a few days. With Grandma and Grandpa in town to babysit and the ice cream flowing freely, they didn’t ask questions. It was okay that we were gone, just not okay that we were gone and having fun.
“We’ll all go to the beach together soon, I promise,” Kara said, and Evan calmed down, locking that promise into his memory banks.
A few moments later, we all said “good night” and “I love you,” and Kara hung up. Even the red-orange sunset, glistening off of our wine glasses as the waves gently lapped on the shore just a short distance from our semi-reclined beach chairs, couldn’t alleviate our guilt. But, you know. It didn’t hurt, either.
On top of celebrating ten years of married life together and acting like the preceding four non-married years didn’t count, we were also location-scouting Block Island as a potential place for our wider family to gather next summer, including my sister’s family with their two small children.
“Look at all the kid-friendly stuff there is to do here!” we wanted our photos to say. Since we’d ditched our own kids, though, we had to demonstrate the kid-friendliness of Block Island in a more hypothetical context.
“Look! There are little horseshoe crabs here that small children could harass, assuming these children had parents who hadn’t ditched them!” was the message we settled on, which is how I found myself crouched over a little horseshoe crab, debating the prudence of posing with it.
A caveman pondering an interaction with an unknown creature would just have to take his best guess (“Throg think tiger look tasty!”), which is why cavemen had an average life expectancy of about four decisions. Too bad cavemen didn’t have iPhones in their backpacks.
“Nope, it’s safe. They just use their tails for balance, and they can’t pinch,” I said, grabbing the crab for a quick photo op.
Look! A horeshoe crab!
Hang on a minute. This one's dead.
Look! A different horeshoe crab!
Back in the water, the crab dug himself into the sand again, where there’d be less chance for an encounter with the paparazzi.
If we make it back with the kids next year, he might want to stay hidden.
You can take a relaxing vacation away from Mike Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.