Ronald Brak

Because not everyone can be normal.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Caught Crabs on a Queensland Beach After Sundown!

Hooray! I finally caught crabs! It happened on the beach just after sunset. It was low tide and I had waded through a narrow channel of water to a sandbank and – balls! So many balls! Balls everywhere! I began to wade my way through a sea of balls. No, wait a minute, the sea was that blue wobbly thing over there. I started wade my way through a sandbank of balls. I felt balls crush and pop as they ground beneath the heels of my feet and I felt balls squishing between my toes. Surely with all these balls around there had to be crabs somewhere? And yes! There they were! In the fading light I spotted two crabs and I swooped down and scooped them up as they attempted to escape by disappearing down their holes.

Catching crabs was such a beautiful experience. It was such a thrill to have them again. When I was younger, if I sat still long enough, I'd have crabs running across my legs, but it had been years since I'd seen any. They were small and a beautiful dark blue colour. Mictyrus Platycheles, usually known as solider crabs because of their former habit of forming armies. Since there were only two of them maybe I should call them reconnaissance crabs. And these crabs are much smarter than your average crab. They have worked out that first you move a leg on one side forward, then you move a leg on the other side forward and so on, and they walk instead of this sideways scuttling nonsense other crabs do. In this respect they're actually smarter than kangaroos.

After marvelling at them for a short while I let them go and with a soul buoyed with joy I turned to the west and even though the sun had only recently set I saw Venus shining brightly. No wait, that was macular degeneration. Venus was over there and much dimmer.

They were the only crabs I caught, and in fact, they were the only crabs I saw. It seemed none of the others were game to come out while there was any light. Quite possibly I had caught the only ones that weren't completely nocturnal and scared the last dregs of diurnal out of them. They'll probably warn their children to never to go out while there is any light whatsoever or giant lopsided star fish will scoop them up and hoist them into the sky to be judged by an enormous moon with one huge mountain and a collection of craters, one of which is massive and filled with teeth. I may have destroyed any hope that existed of them becoming daywalkers again.

Oh well, my bad.

I walked further along the beach. I was there with a family member, Uncle Bob. Walking with family can be embarrassing, and since Uncle Bob has a habit of peeing on everything he comes across, running around on all fours, and sniffing people's bottoms, you'd think he'd be a bit socially awkward to take a walk with, but he's actually one of the least embarrassing members of my family. Just as Hitler had the concept of the big lie that makes people ignore smaller lies, once Uncle Bob has defecated in public not much else he does manages to be embarrassing.

So I walked along the beach and Uncle Bob splashed in the shallows trying to catch little toad fish in his mouth even though he's never managed to catch one in his life. I know this because he is still alive. This is Australia you know.

Toadfish are the kamikaze of the tetrodotoxin set. Unlike blue ringed octopuses they can't inject their toxin and unlike puffer fish they still look delicious when puffed up. In fact, they look downright cute, which makes them particularly attractive to kawaiivores that feast upon the cuteness of the living. So the only way its deadly toxin helps it is if it gets eaten, which is a bit of a drawback. But it is of benefit to the toadfish that don't get eaten. Although some predators can survive the toxin, presumably many won't live long enough to make a habit of eating them.

When I saw how many toadfish there were I made plans to catch them and eat them if I had to. I often make plans like this. It's a survival reflex. If you see me staring at you intently and our eyes lock across a crowded room, I may simply be estimating how long I'll be able to live off your body if our plane crashed in the Andes.

I know a process for removing the toxin from toadfish. I also know how to eat small quantities without dying. The tetrodotoxin they contain can cause profound paralysis and when I was in Japan I'd often fake pufferfish poisoning until whoever was annoying me went away. And although I will probably never be in a situation where I'll have to eat toadfish I always like to have a back up plan, even if that plan involves convincing people I can remove the toxin from toadfish and then stealing their food while they're paralysed.

Eventually I lassoed Uncle Bob with a metal chain and dragged him off the beach and brought him back to the hummer. As it had gotten so dark, on the way back we saw fruit bats soaring overhead as they left their roosts for a night of feeding and fruit cost raising. Hundreds of bats with wingspans of a metre or more flew overhead. Batman would be so jealous if he saw this. Gotham city has nothing on Queensland. We also call them flying foxes 'cause that's what they look like. And no mucking about with any of this echolocation nonsense. Fruit bats have big googly eyes they use to see where they're going. Sure, they have a type of echolocation, but it really sucks. Instead of being ultrasonic it can wake you up in the night. Humans are almost as good at echolocation as they are.

After watching the bats fly overhead I drove to the asylum to drop off Uncle Bob off and on the way we listened to a Britney Spears song:

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