By John Gray
What is it they say about March? In like a lion out like a lamb? In my case it’s in like a lion out like a lobster. A very expensive lobster that nearly sent me to the poor house. Allow me to explain.
Like many of you I get a bit stir crazy during the long winter months in the Capital Region. So recently I decided to get out of town for a little winter escape. Since I had neither the time nor money to fly south to a warmer climate, I decided to hop in the car and visit our neighbors to the north—Canada. Montreal to be exact. I’ve been there once before and found the city and people quite friendly. For those of you who have never been, let me share a little secret —the average daily temperature in Montreal in the winter is 10 below zero. And that’s on a sunny day at noon. It’s so cold up there that they put all of their shopping malls underground so no one has any reason to walk outside from November to April. You can actually spend your entire life like a gopher moving in tunnels from building to building.
Of course, all this walking through Montreal’s underground world certainly works up your appetite, which leads me to my lobster tale. Or is that tail? I happened upon a five star restaurant that boasts the best lobster north of the border. Personally, I’ve always thought one lobster was as good as the next, but not here. Oh no, just ordering a lobster dinner is a whole production. Once you’ve chosen the lobster they pick out a live one and actually bring it to your table so you can say “Hi”. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to talk to my food before I eat it. But there you are, face to face. It’s such an awkward moment that you feel like you have to say something to the creepy crustacean.
Me: “So how’s it going?”
Lobster: “Pretty good. Hey, I noticed on the way to your table I passed a pot of scalding hot water in the kitchen. You don’t think they’re going to toss me in there, do you?”
Me: “Gosh no. Why would they? Hey, wanna hear a joke before you die? I mean leave!”
Lobster: “Did you say die?”
Me: “What do you call a lobster who won’t share?”
Lobster: (Staring in stunned silence.)
Me: “A lobster who is very shellfish. Get it? Pretty good huh?”
Lobster: “Could we go back to the part about dieing?”
Me: “Oh, I was just kidding. Now you get going and I’ll eat you in about ten minutes. See you, I meant, see you in ten minutes.”
As he waved goodbye with his little claw I felt guilty, but soon enough my beady-eyed friend would exact his revenge. You see, on page two of the menu right next to the word “lobster” were two words I’ll never forget—Market Price. My favorite market is Price Chopper and a decent size lobster there will run you maybe $20 bucks. Since this was a fancy restaurant with candles and free bread I figured I could double that price, or at worst triple it. I mean how much can lobster cost? I was about to find out.
After dinner the waiter brought the bill, laid it down on the table and then ran as if someone just pulled the pin on a hand grenade. Was something wrong with the bill? You could say that. Market Price really meant $40 per pound and my little red friend who I chatted with earlier tipped the scales at a healthy four pounds. I can see you’re doing the math. Oh yes, no kidding. Larry the lobster cost me $160 dollars. That did not include the other meal, salad and a beverage or two. Final bill: $333. I went to the bathroom to throw cold water in my face (I’ve seen people do that in movies when something really bad just happened) and noticed a window large enough to fit a big American who just ate a $160 lobster. Then I remembered they are French up here in Montreal and in that movie “Les Miserables” Liam Neeson got 20 years in prison, hard labor, for stealing one piece of bread. The French take food theft very seriously. So I paid in tear stained twenties.
As I left the restaurant nearly broke I thought about walking back to my hotel to save myself the cab fare, but as I mentioned earlier it was a balmy 10 below zero. Back in my hotel room I searched the TV channels for something to take my mind off the $160 lobster only to find an episode of “SpongeBob SquarePants” in French. I don’t speak French, but I’m pretty sure SpongeBob’s boss, Mr. Krabs, was mocking all the customers who were stupid enough to come into his restaurant and pay over-inflated prices for his Crabby Patties. Yeah, this was helping.
So, in light of the fact that month’s theme is Home Improvement, I have a little piece of advice you might want to heed: in order to have enough money to make improvements to your home, avoid restaurants where dinner costs more than your car payment.
I thought this fish story was finished until a recent trip to Price Chopper. While walking by the lobster bin I could swear one of them shouted out a word, one I had never heard before—“Abruti”. I hurried home, punched it into the search box on Google and it produced the following definition: “Abruti—French word meaning idiot, moron, one who is in a constant mindless state.” Obviously, he heard about my trip to Montreal. I probably ate his cousin.
John Gray is a Fox23 News anchor and contributing writing at the Troy Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org