Thursday, January 10, 2008


OPERATING THE LOBSTER


To be perfectly honest, I've never even thought of operating a giant lobster-- who can perceive all the possibilities that life lays out before us? But when I saw that giant lobster sitting there, my inner child leaped at the prospect. Regrettably though, my outer adult was too big to fit into the crustacean. But then I've never thought about not fitting into a lobster either, so the disappointment was small one.

I'm speaking of the new Nephropida across the water, in that special section of the fantastic Lake Biwa Museum called the "Discovery Room," where kids can go unattendedly wacko while their parents collapse nearby.

Yes, in the Discovery Room there is now a giant lobster you can physically go inside of and, while looking out through the lobster's mouth, manipulate the levers in there to operate the giant claws and snap up a praying mantis bigger than my forearm, or a 20-pound pollywog - both at once, if you can swing it - those dainties are dangling temptingly right out there in front of your big bulbous eyes, just within reach of those long heavily jointed chitinous arms extending out from your spiny red carapace, deep in the imaginary sea where so much of the world's fun resides.

When we brought the grandgirls to the Museum on Sunday, Kaya headed straight for the lobster and got in line behind all the boys until at last she got to direct the beast, caught a loach or two and snagged a pollywog, but soon burned out on the deeper potential of the thing - sure it's cool, said her look, but lobster interest fades - she wandered off; then each of the twins had a go at the lobster, with about the same result. Of course they're totally children at this point in their lives, with quite a while to go before they begin to acquire their own outer adults and the restrictions/perspective that affords; still, their actions were a surprise to both of me.

Yes, the girls quickly gave up wielding those giant spiked arms with the gnarly grabbing claws at the ends!! They wandered off, stuck their heads up inside the fish tank and stuff like that, made some yarn pictures on the yarn boards, but their hearts weren't in those activities any more than they had been in the lobster.

As far as I could tell, their hearts kept pretty much out of it until they found, over in a far corner, the traditional Japanese kitchen of a hundred years or so ago, where they could do trad stuff like "slice" "daikon" and other "vegetables" etc. with a "hocho" (traditional Japanese kitchen knife) and put them in a big iron pot over a "fire" in an old-fashioned irori (fireplace) to make a nabe (stew type meal) for "dinner," and you couldn't tear the girls away from there, they made dinner over and over, fascinated at slicing not-even-real radishes with a not-even-real hocho, one twin at the edge of the girl-crowded space complaining initially to Kasumi that there was no room in the kitchen: “Mama, there's no room for me to make a nabe!”

While gazing upon that comfortingly homish scene, my outer adult couldn't help but be aware of his inner child's powerful desire to sneak away from this girl stuff and work that lobster big time.

Museums are there to teach us of the amazing aspects there are to the world and to ourselves. The lesson here appears to be that somewhere back in the history of girls there is warmth, there is comfort, there is nurturing; whereas somewhere back in the history of boys there is a giant lobster.

Which gets harder to operate as we get older.

5 comments:

annie said...

God, those girls are beautiful.

But yes, isn't it interesting to see children's choices at such a young age?

Tabor said...

Lets see...I have had lobster in me...seems only just that I should get inside a lobster.

Jon said...

Probably safe to bet my last 50 yen that that's the only blog post on the entire internet with that title.

Val said...

I'm with Tabor, let me in the lobster! But then I didnt do much doll playing, more the boy stuff till I got to my teens.....and it wasnt "seemly" any more.

tracy said...

When I read this article before, I meant to comment on how gorgeous your grandchildren are. I don't know what may have taken me from it--heh. I would love to know them.