first, I lobster . . .


It was on a summer day some thirty years ago that I sat across from my friend Billy for our fifth or sixth consecutive night of eating lobster at Nunan’s Lobster Hut in Kennebunkport, Maine. I loved lobster, so the chance to eat there night after night was heaven.

Until it wasn’t.

Towards the end of the meal the inside of my mouth swelled, along with my lips and my fingertips. When I got back to Boston, I went to see my allergist. I told her the story and she told me I had had my last lobster. I had become so severely allergic that she prescribed an Epi-pen and told me to avoid them at all costs, along with shrimp and crab. My joke became that I was an ecological threat to the lobster population so God cut me off.

A few months later, Ginger and I were in Gloucester, Massachusetts and standing in the harbor near the famous fisherman statue when a lobster boat sailed by. It wasn’t close to shore, but the wind was blowing in. My eyes began to swell shut and I made a dash for the CVS across the square to get some Benadryl. The allergy was no joke.

I have lived with the irony of having a coastal New England address, in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, and being unable to eat lobster. Thankfully, I have been able to eat clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops. Still, the summer tradition of the lobster roll has been lost on me.

Until it wasn’t–which was today.

Last week, I went to see a new allergist and in the process of telling my story and doing the testing he told me he thought my allergies had changed again and that lobster was safe for me to eat (along with shrimp and crab), but he wanted to make sure. So, today I stopped at the Glenwood Drive-In and picked up a lobster roll to go and then drove to the allergist’s office to eat it. Over a couple of hours they meted out the delicious meat every fifteen minutes, starting with a small amount and increasing it each time. For the first time in thirty years, I ate lobster, and the doctor was right: I am no longer allergic.

This summer, I will get to eat at the Guilford Lobster Pound for the first time since we moved here. Next time I go to Durham, I will get to have my first taste of real North Carolina shrimp and grits. And the next time we order Chinese food, Ginger and Rachel will have to share the Crab Rangoon.

As I drove home from the doctor’s office, I realized I never imagined this day would actually happen, and I have certainly not starved because I couldn’t eat shellfish, but, man, that lobster tasted good.

And I get to do it again and again.


Leave a Reply