Saturday, March 11, 2017
Crabbing on the Jetty and Simone DeBeauvoir
“I’m not kidding Thomas. Knock it off!” The girl screamed and her face turned a beat red, youthful, heady. Sylvie felt the girl’s angst well up inside herself like desire, as the girl grabbed part of the boy’s shirt, but at the last moment, he’d slip away. Sylvie felt it too, the give of the material, his shirt, the tug, the yanking, the pulling away, the futility of it like crabbing on the jetty, the way the crab slinked out from between the rocks, fast, undaunted, lunged onto the pink mussel. She’d yell got it, and there was Dennis, jeering, the way older brothers do, peering over his thickly splayed blond bangs, admonishing, and the crab was there, on end of her string, and she’d try to heed her brother’s past warnings to wait, not to bring the string up too soon, and she’d feel the tug and she wanted to listen to Dennis, but something inside her made her yank it up too soon, and the crab let loose and retreated back behind the rocks. Dennis was unmoved, as if he expected it, eyes on his own hole, his orange bucket filled with crabs scratching to get out, and there he sat, empowered, indifferent to the crabs, their suffering, and hers, full of himself, what Simone De Beauvoir called male pomposity, waiting for her to slip, knowing no amount of clawing could make him budge, knowing she was a girl, destined to botch the crabbing and it was all a precursor to her later failures at college and marriage and motherhood. She was never good at catching crabs because she was a female, she determined later, she was more sensitive, empathized with the crabs, imagined it was herself being dragged out of her home, tossed into a bucket, baked in the sun. She loathed the crabs for that, for their weakness, their inability to get out of the bucket. She loathed herself for caring and failing.
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