First of all, try not to be jealous of my amazing life and that the most interesting thing I have to talk about right now is my hermit crabs. It is February, the school year is on auto pilot, and I’ve got nothin’. I’ll run into friends I haven’t seen in a while at the mall and they’re all, “So what’s new?” and I panic because I am digging so deep to find any shred of interesting to share so I don’t seem like a huge loser and then suddenly my face will light up with realization and I’m all, “Oh man lemme tell ya this crazy hermit crab story.”
And then they usually get this 1000 yard stare and try to back away but it’s too late. They’re trapped. You’re trapped.
My kids have been asking for a dog for as long as they could talk. Two of the three’s first words were “dog”. The third was “Dog now, biotch.” (She’s what therapists like to call ‘spirited’)
And there are two reasons why this never happened: 1. Nick is allergic. Like, DEATHLY, Epi Pen, we’ve been to the ER three times because he accidentally touched fur allergic, and 2. I hate dogs. Sorry, people who love their dogs but when they put their wet nose on me or touch me or look at me I physically fight the urge to judo chop them in the face. DISCLAIMER: I have never judo chopped a dog in the face. But it’s not off the table.
However, I do appreciate the value of pets teaching kids about responsibility and death, so I did the next best thing and got them four super cuddly hermit crabs. My first clue as to how much these things suck is the speed with which my friends were willing to ditch them. I posted something on Facebook about maybe getting some for the girls and immediately people were messaging me, begging me to take theirs. It almost became a bidding war. “Mine comes with a cage!” “Mine comes with food!” “Mine comes with fifty bucks!”
We got four – two from one friend and two from another. A blended family but I figured they’d work it out. Things were going fine, until a few months in when I walked into the girls’ bedroom and almost stepped on one that was just sitting in the middle of their floor. Now, the logical explanation is that one of the girls picked it up and put it on the floor, right? But why that doesn’t make sense is that they expressed absolutely no interest in the crabs whatsoever from the moment I brought them inside. In fact, they run away terrified when I take the lid off the cage to give them food and water because hermit crabs are creepy as fuck and why did I get these things again?
So either I walked in a game of Fear Factor, or the crab somehow figured out how to open the lid and repel down the dresser. Well the fun thing is we’ll never know because two days later the thing just DISAPPEARED INTO THIN AIR. Gone. Deuces. And YOU try to sleep knowing that there’s a hermit crab loose somewhere in your house. I still shower with the curtain open because what if it’s delusional and pissed?
So now we’re down to three hermit crabs.
This is the point in the story where my friend who I haven’t seen in a while gives a courtesy laugh and checks her watch but OH I’M JUST GETTING STARTED, SISTER.
So despite the one who went rogue things were aces until a couple of months ago, when the girls ran into my room screaming that one of the hermit crabs was out of his shell.
“EEEEwwww!” I screamed, grabbing my youngest daughter by the shoulders and thrusting her in front to shield myself from the hideous thing. To which she started kicking and clawing to try to get outta there but what am I supposed to do? Look at it? After a bunch of pep talking I finally located a salad utensil and shish kabob skewer and got him out and flushed the carcass.
For those keeping track, that left us with two. So you can imagine my surprise when I walked back in the room a few hours later to find three of those little turds in the cage. WTF? Had the original one returned? How much wine had I drank? “WHAT KIND OF SOURCERY IS THIS?!” I screamed out my window.
Then, the next morning the girls came running into my room screaming that another crab was out of his shell AGAIN. Christ. And again, I had to perform the unthinkable, but worse because this time I was sober. I walked in and this time it was definitely out of its shell but… not… quite… dead. I poked at it with the salad utensil a few times and it just sorta gave me this sad little stink eye. What do I do? Hospice? Let it suffer? Every couple of hours I went in to check on him and it was pretty much the same. I finally made the executive decision that in the name of humanity I would flush him and end his misery. “It’s for your own good, little buddy” I told him as I dumped his *mostly* lifeless body onto some urine my kids forgot to flush and hit the button.
It was at this point, one year and a few hours after we took responsibility for four living things, that I decided to Google “how to care for a hermit crab”. Then I learned that hermit crabs do this thing called “molting”, where they shed their outer skin. And are unable to move for several hours afterward. My mind immediately flashed to his beady little eyes filled with judgement as I dumped his paralyzed body on top of stale urine and flushed.
So anyhoo now we’re down to two.
And again, everything was going good until a few days ago when I went in there, picked up one of the shells to check for vitals and a bunch of legs and pinchers fell out. Like, not the kind you would expect to see from molting, but like actual legs and pinchers that had some weight to them.
“Well it was good seeing you,” is what people usually say when I get to this part of the story. But this is just where it gets interesting so I ignore their cues to escape.
I mean, I don’t know about you, but I expect molting to include things that look like shells and skins NOT ACTUAL LEGS AND PINCHERS. Also, P.S. the body itself is just gone. So now I just have one normal crab and some legs and pinchers scattered about. Does that sound normal to you?
But by this point my friend has faked a heart attack and it really doesn’t matter anyway, and I’m left wondering if it’s time I get a job.