Consider The Lobster Head In My Freezer
8. Everything In Its Alt-Right Place
There is a lobster head in my freezer. I don’t know why, but it’s there. Strange thing to have staring out at you from a freezer, with only a pint of Ben & Jerry’s to keep it company. Still, the reality is undeniable: lobster, freezer.
I’ve never seen a lobster when it’s at home in the sea. I wouldn’t put up much of a fuss if I ran into one there. That’s where a lobster belongs, for the most part: in the sea. It might not feel great, crossing paths with a weaponized biological nutcracker. I’ve always suspected that crustaceans are the distant descendants of the bugs that were crawling around in the trash bags aliens left here when they visited Earth eons ago and found the place a little too balmy for their tastes. But the awkwardness between me and a lobster in the sea would be all my fault–what the hell am I doing in the sea? The lobster would be the rightfully surprised tenant, and I’d be the drunk stumbling into the wrong apartment at 3am.
But a freezer?
An aquarium? No problem seeing a lobster there. If anything, it would be underwhelming: surrounded by sharks and rays and clownfish and squid, the lobster is only a dash more interesting than a catfish, the roomba of those international aquatic hostels. I could be back home, standing face-to-face with a million cubic liters of saltwater filled with the bounty of the ocean, and if I looked down and saw a lobster scurrying across the fake seabed, all I’d think would be: “Adventure Aquarium? More like New Jersey State Aquarium!”
A freezer, though.
I’m not saying it isn’t weird seeing lobsters crowded together in a tank when you walk into a restaurant. They are unholy, armored monsters, so dangerous that their claws must be restrained, so feeble that it only takes a rubber band. And they’re never red. They crawl around as best they can under the conditions like overgrown crayfish, black and gleaming in murky water that’s familiar to anyone who’s killed goldfish with their indifference and neglect. Pick one out? And have it look into my eyes with those awful black matchsticks they see the world with? I’m racked with shivers at the thought, by the memory.
Even cooked, immobile and edible on a plate, flanked by soufflé cups of melted butter and bowls of yellow rice, I wouldn’t rate myself as over the moon. I know when I crack open that carapace, more likely than not, I’m going to be staring at green brain matter or, god help me, the thing’s stupid lungs. But you keep your eyes on the succulent white meat, soldier on, and try to save the knuckle for last.
But the freezer? It’s too cold in there. The walls are still stark white because we never put anything in there but ice cream, and the thing is bright red. It commands your attention. The lobster head has been in there for two months, at least–what is it doing there? What ends could it possibly serve, and when? It can’t be in there for no reason. Someone put it there. Were they drunk?
It’s right under the ice cube tray, wearing the rack that holds the tray like a car in a carport. The rack lets air circulate around all sides of the tray, and the ice cubes freeze faster. We’re clever creatures, humans, so why did a human put this lobster head in my freezer? It’s pointing straight at the door, eye stalks still at attention, antennae reaching forward so that it’s already almost upon you when you reach in. Scares the shit out of me every time.
Why is there a lobster head in my fucking freezer? I could ask my roommates, but what if the answer makes no sense? What if it makes no sense, and I can’t convince them it makes no sense? What if they try to convince me it makes sense?
What if it really does make sense?
I never buy frozen food, and I get most of my beverages from bodegas, so I rarely need to go into the freezer for ice. Most of the time, I live in blissful ignorance of the lobster in my freezer. But every so often, the work of living requires a trip to the fridge’s penthouse, requires an ice cube or two, and I am always surprised, shocked, and scared to find that guillotined ghoul of the deep locking eyes with me, reaching out to touch me.
It’s been going on for two months, and I can’t get used to it. Seeing Trump’s orange thermidor head in the Oval Office last week, and Obama’s face as he locked eyes with him, the Kingfish’s tiny but dangerous claw reaching out to grab his hand, I finally understood why.