Crawfish Dinner

I wrote this for a class but I liked it so much I am sharing it with you also:

craw

The humid Louisiana air makes my white dress shirt stick to me. A chemical smell a little reminiscent of freshly cut grass hangs in the air. There’s been no emission alarm so I know it’s not deadly phosgene gas – just the normal, allowable emissions expected from an active chemical plant. My escape respirator can stay attached to my belt.

My colleagues and I leave work and minutes later we all arrive at the picnic grounds just outside of the chemical plant. The reactor towers are now hidden just behind the a stand of oak trees, Spanish moss hanging from the older ones. We could be in a city park anywhere but the security gates give away the fact that we aren’t.

Tents are set up and a crowd of employees have gathered for a celebration meal. Kenny Chesney sings over the PA about how sexy his tractor is. When I get to the front of the line, the woman behind the folding table grabs a dustpan-sized scoop and dips it in to a blue plastic bin. There’s a clattering of shells against metal as a massive scoop of boiled crawfish are picked up and then a clatter again as they are dumped in to a cardboard tray, nearly filling it. There’s some room left, though, for me to top it with a few boiled potatoes, and corn on the cob. Add a side dish of jambalaya to the plate and I’m happy

I plunge my hand in to a drum filled with ice water and come out with a Coke. The ice water feels good in the 32 degree heat and I don’t wipe it off. I sit down, grab my first crawfish, feeling its weight lying limp in my hand. It feels a little morbid. I don’t hold it long, instead quickly pinching its tail, giving its body a twist, cleanly removing the tail meat. I pull it out with my teeth, tasting the cayenne, salt and thyme on it and then, like the locals, I suck the juice from the head. Before long, my hands are covered. Napkins will be no match for this.

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