Hump Day: Family and a five-pound lobster make for “merry times”

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Oct. 2Hump Day, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Recently, I made a conscious decision to start getting both sides of my family (mother’s and father’s) together for regular “mini reunions.” The first one was for my mother’s side over the weekend at the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers in New Glasgow, P.E.I. My father’s side is next!

What a pleasure it was to get together with so many relatives in a happy, relaxed setting. In fact, we’re already making plans to get together again next year at another restaurant in the area. We used to get together for an annual reunion at my uncle’s for a few years in the 1990s and early 2000s, but we somehow fell out of the habit after a number of relatives started dying off.

I organized this rejuvenated version of the reunion and made sure it was simple for everyone. No dishes to clean. No messy house afterwards. Just show up, eat, pay for your meal and leave. Of course, in the meantime, it was my hope that we’d all have a good visit and chat — and that’s exactly what happened at our long table set for 22 relatives over four generations ranging in age from nine months to 80 years old.

The last time so many of us got together like this was for a much more sombre occasion — my aunt’s funeral held on New Year’s Eve 2010. Not only was it a terribly sad way to spend New Year’s Eve, but my aunt’s brother-in-law collapsed and died in church a few minutes before the funeral started. It sounds like something out of a movie, but this actually happened. Oh what a day that was.

With most relatives in my parents’ generation in their 70s and heading into their 80s, it’s easy for cousins to lose track of each other. As parents pass away, we often lose touch, especially when the parents – now gone – were the rest of the family’s main link to them. While social media, especially Facebook, has made staying in touch easier than ever, it’s still important to get together on a regular basis even if it’s only once per year.

Last Saturday was absolutely beautiful. It was a very nice drive over to the Island with my mother and two aunts. In fact, we were gabbing so much that I missed our usual exit to Summerside and ended up going toward Charlottetown. We took another route none of us had taken before but we did manage to find our way to New Glasgow, not far from where my mother’s family home still stands (now owned by an uncle) and not far from the beautiful Gulf of St. Lawrence. It’s hard to get lost on P.E.I.

I’ve been working so hard lately that I decided to treat myself to a huge lobster. The restaurant offers lobsters of all sizes. Even knowing that smaller lobster are the tastiest, I went for one of the larger options, a four-pound monster. A few relatives reminded me that a bigger lobster didn’t necessarily mean tastier, but I didn’t care. I wanted a big lobster and I was going to get a big lobster.

By the time we sat down, the man who took our money at the door (you pre-pay for your meals there) came over to tell me that they were out of four-pound lobsters but they would substitute a five-pounder instead — for the same price, of course. What I should have said was, “Just give me two two-pounders,” (they would have tasted better because they were smaller) but I just nodded yes. “Excellent!” I thought.

After rounds of all-you-can-eat salad, rolls and mussels, the main courses started arriving. They practically needed a wheelbarrow to bring mine to the table. That five-pound monster dwarfed everyone else’s one-pounder pretty dramatically. I couldn’t help but ask my nephew to hold his one-pounder plate next to my five-pounder plate and took a photo for posterity. The difference was pretty dramatic.

New Glasgow Lobster Suppers
My nephew comparing his one-pound lobster to my five-pounder.

But as I looked down at this behemoth crustacean, the animal lover in me made me feel a bit bad. The lobster that lay there on my plate, on its back and split open every which way by kitchen staff, was probably 20 or 30 years old. I’m sure that over that time, it had avoided being trapped 1,000 times or more. Eventually, though, some lucky fisher man did manage to trap it. Lucky fisher man. Unlucky lobster.

Even as I felt a twinge of guilt though, the evil diner in me came out, slapped the animal lover upside the head and screamed, “Enjoy your darn meal!” And I did. Every morsel of it. Actually, it tasted pretty good! I was pleasantly surprised. Very moist. Not dry at all.

I never thought I’d say this, though, but there is indeed such a thing as too much lobster. By the end of it, I was green in the face with puckered lips from the saltiness of the lobster meat, but I didn’t care. That old boy didn’t live for 20 or 30 years only to have a diner leave half of him on the plate. That sucker was going to be eaten and lips were going to be smacked afterwards!

So, all in all, it was a good day. Lobster, laughs and family. No sadness. No tears. No permanent goodbyes, just see-you-laters. Getting together in sad times is easy. The obituary tells you when to show up to stand in front of the casket and pay your respects and at what time to show up at church for the funeral. People make it their top priority. Time is taken off work. People return suddenly from vacation or cancel it altogether. Meetings are cancelled suddenly and no one is put out. They all understand. Schedules are put on hold. It’s just the way it is.

Getting together during good times, though, that takes work — but it’s worth it.

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