Lobster in the library
At a dinner party in Montauk one year I was seated next to a marine biologist whose name was almost, but not quite, Langostino and whose specialty was lobsters. He had been observing them as they clanked along the sea bed in their bony armor. I was especially fascinated by his description of how they make love -- though "love" may not by the scientific term for crustacean congress. He -- Mr. Lobster -- has to wait until she -- Ms. Lobsterette -- molts, her soft body escaping from the shell she has outgrown, and before her soft underskin hardens into something like my old Levis. At that point, she is vulnerable and he with his great horny claw sort of protects her while he rolls her this way and that and has his way with her. (When he molts, he hides in a cave until his new armor is hard.)

The other thing that impressed me was the lobsters' dining habits. The seabeds that my conversation partner had observed were full of good things for a lobster to eat, mostly shellfish. The lobster would meander by, grab at a clam or an oyster, crack its shell with a mighty claw, and take a nibble -- then discard it and meander on to crack, kill and nibble on something else, but ignoring most of what's there because it is so abundant. And that's pretty much the way I behave in my actual and potential library -- the books that are on my shelves plus all those I know about and could easily acquire.

"Nibble, nibble, nibble, eh, Mr Gibbon?"

On lobsters in love

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