The year was 1993 and many great things were happening. The much anticipated sequel to Robocop 2, Robocop 3, was due to hit the big screen any day now and life was good. Of course, being of an age where my greatest interest was lego, this great moment would ultimately flyer under my prepubescent radar.
Instead I spent a great deal of the year aboard the “Great Helen Hunt”, a ponderously large crab trawler with a great 14 foot nude statue of the Mad about you actress displayed proudly on her prow. Now, there are not good many reasons for a child of 9 years of age to be on a crab trawler in the middle of the Atlantic ocean in the middle of one of the harshest winters on record, but from a very young age I was diagnosed with a very crab specific gift; I could smell Atlantic rock crabs with 89.3% accuracy from a distance of around 4 kilometers. Some would call it a gift, I would come to call it a mixed blessing at best. Sure, I would always be able to find myself a variable emperors feast in Altantic Rock Crabs (provided I was in the Altantic Ocean and with in 4 kilometers of my quarry) but the thing is, I’ve never really been big on sea food in general. I don’t mind crabsticks from time to time, but they aren’t really made from crab, and they will never haunt my dreams the way the Atlantic Rock Crab does to this very day.
My job on the Helen Hunt was to climb the naked statue of Helen Hunt and find purchase betwixt the statues rusty iron breasts. Once I had gotten comfortable (as comfortable as one can be with a giant helen hunt looking down at you, her steely gaze casting accusing eyes directly at you as if to say, “Hey there soft little boy, you like them titties don’t you? You want to see my fadge? Well you can’t because I’ll press charges.”) The captain, who just happened to be Paul Reiser (but not the Paul Reiser from mad about you, this Paul Reiser used to be a chartered accountant. He was, at one point, one of the greatest Chartered accountants in the world. He could get you up to 20% more on your tax return, and he could fill in a 401 Form in less than 90 seconds. ) would point the hulking trawler in random directions and drive around, sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks, until I shouted the code words that meant I smelled crab. The code words were “HEY PAUL I SMELL CRAB!!!!”. Then we would pull up and drop some crab cages down and wait.
Needless to say, we would feast until our bellys were near bursting on a portion of our catch. The rest would inevitably be sold at the docks to passing fish merchants, where Paul would make ‘not bad’ money for each crab sold. However at $4 per crab, averaging around 500 crabs per haul, he would have been raking in around $2000 (before tax) per trip. Which would not have even paid for the fuel used to make the voyage, let alone cover my hefty pay packet (believe it or not, my gift was highly sort after in the crab industry so I could name my price). This leads me to believe that the crab game, as he used to call it, was little more than an expensive hobby for paul reiser. I now realize that he was not of the crab folk and never would be.