And They All Had Names

when i was 9 (i think?), my friend becky and i took a trip to the outer banks with my mom and dad.

this trip spawned the 2 year period wherein i became obsessed with hermit crabs. completely, and totally, obsessed. ironically, it was also the trip where i would be forever traumatized by all crabs who inhabit the ocean floor. the ones that pinch. hard. in my mind, i suppose, the ones in the water were infinitely more frightening than the ones that lived in shells. the ones that you could pick up and play with, as if they were toys, and not an offshoot of the exact creature who almost lopped off my pinkie toe.

crabanyway, my parents made the terrible mistake of buying me one of these cute little hermit crabs at one of the 10 bazillion beach shops along the outer banks. this particular shop happened to be near manteo, so… manteo became his name by default. my first cute little hermit crab. before the trip was over, manteo was accompanied by wanchese, and then ocracoke. if you’re not familiar with the north carolina coast, i yanked all three names from the map. i thought i was clever.

i’m sure my parents thought it would end here, but it did not. over the next several months, i had acquired quite a collection. over 40, actually. 40 crabs in 1 terrarium in my bedroom. 40. o_0 why my parents let me do this, no clue.

i do know, however, that…

  • i bathed them bi-weekly
  • i talked to them. actually talked to them.
  • i regularly took them out of the terrarium and allowed them “playtime.”
  • “playtime” meant letting them roam free around my bedroom. and on my bed. and basically wherever they wanted.
  • (can you IMAGINE 40 crabs running free around your bedroom? AND IN YOUR BED?!)
  • i kept a notebook (and a white board) full of their names, along with which shell they were currently inhabiting, and whether or not they had molted yet.
  • i was a weird freaking kid.

lucky for me, i also had weird friends. my friend ryan (who now goes by maggie, who is now married, who now has a house, WITHOUT hermit crabs) decided to partake in the hermit crab obsession also. i don’t know if she had 40, but she, too, had a LOT.

they had play dates in the sand box at her playground. they had play dates in my room. they had play dates in her room. every slumber party was not a slumber party without the hermit crabs. how our mothers did not kill us, i will never know.

we even dressed them up for christmas. she and i actually made 12 tiny santa hats out of construction paper, scotch taped them to 12 of their shells, and sang “the 12 days of christmas” in front of my entire 5th grade class. actually, ryan wussed out and i had to do it by myself, but i don’t think that really matters at this point.

eventually, all hers died. i kept mine for about 2 years. i think that’s when i finally started middle school and/or got more interested in computers. one obsession turned into another. you know. crabs. computers. same thing.