© 2011 Aaron Atkinson

Jumbo Shrimp

When I was in high school my family took a weekend get-away to Kansas City. On Saturday evening we went to a Japanese steakhouse, you know, the type where you sit around a grill and they cook the food in front of you. I’ve long thought that these public eateries could be a little uncomfortable if you didn’t have the required eight people to surround the grill. And on this night, a young boy and his grandparents were seated across from us.

After frying the rice, lighting a flaming tower of onions and cracking an egg on his spatula, the meat hit the grill. After a quick flip in the hot oil, the shrimp were ready for the main pre-dining event. After being sliced in half by the egg-cracking spatula our tall-hatted chef began flipping the shrimp, one-by-one, into the air for each of us to catch, much like buttered popcorn at a movie.

Smiles and laughter accompanied the catches and the misses as the shrimp tossing made it’s way through the Atkinson’s and over to the family seated across from us. When it came time for Granny, she adjusted her large-framed glasses to ensure that her vision was spot-on for the task at hand. When the shrimp left the steel spatula it began slowly rotating towards Granny’s ajar mouth. Her mouth opened, exposing the shrimp’s dentured target. Unfortunately for Granny, when she opened her mouth, she simultaneously closed her eyes.

The sailing, cartwheeling shrimp missed her mouth. And in a one in a million shot, the steaming crustacean found its way into the small silver of space behind her glasses and in front of her closed eyelid. And I guess that wee shrimp was quite hot. Her reaction was a Mrs. Doubtfire-esque hooting and whaling, a mixture of shock and pain.

Her obvious discomfort not withstanding, such a miraculous mishap was more than we could handle and the whole lot of us strained to hold back the giggles.

Our chef, wide-eyed at the scene, mumbled in mixture of Chinese and English, “Goodnessme! Iain’tnevoseethatbefo!”

Amen to that.

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