Why I Don't Catch Flying Shrimp in My Mouth

Just this past week I had my first meal at new Hibachi-type restaurant in town. It was actually a very nice meal. It set up by Aven, our academic coach at school, to be a farewell meal with just the two of us. However, when I got there I discovered that she had secretly invited some of my favorite people from school, so there were seven of us there.

It was all new to me - I think I have eaten at one of these a long time ago, but I can't remember any of the fancy stuff they do. At one time, the chef said, "It's time to catch shrimp", and I was first because the dinner was in my honor.

"What?" I said. "I'm supposed to catch it?" My dinner partners all said yes, that he would flip it up with his big knife, and I was supposed to catch it in my mouth. "No, no," I said. "I don't catch things in my mouth." But they were all enthusiastic about it, and before I knew it, a smashed piece of shrimp was flying through the air at me. "No, no," I said, as I dodged it and it hit my chest and fell to the ground. Everyone else, however proceeded to try and catch the shrimp.

You know, I'm just not a shrimp catcher. Call me introverted, or lacking in self-confidence, but I've always avoided situations where there was a substantial potential for great embarrassment. And in my view, the mental picture of me flailing around with an open mouth trying to catch something is just that. I'm this way about many things in life. Take volleyball, for example. I've never liked volleyball for this very reason. If the ball is headed your way and you get yourself ready and swing those arms to hit the ball and miss, you've missed in a big, big way. In an arms-flailing, or even worse, a diving-on-the-ground-to-hit-only-air kind of way. Baseball is in the same category, in my opinion. (It doesn't help that I'm not good at either of these sports, and am very prone to miss all balls sent my way.)

For me, this extreme avoidance of social embarrassment also limits my restaurant choices. If a restaurant offers a food with an funny-sounding name, I won't order it, no matter how delicious it looks. The Yankee Doodle Spud back at that restaurant in Abilene comes to mind. No matter how much I wanted to eat it, I wasn't willing to say it. Or (I think I've mentioned this before) I will never cluck like a chicken to get a free sandwich at Chic-Fil-A. Never.

So, I dodged the shrimp, and instead watched my friends try to catch theirs. I must say that they all looked rather graceful and non-embarrassing while attempting this (despite the fact that no one actually caught one). But I for one was happy that mine was on the floor.

Bob  – (12 January 2009 at 12:21)  

Hmmm. You know, in some ways this surprises me. I guess I've known that about you in general terms for a long time, but some of the specifics caught me by surprise.

You were the world traveler before any of the rest of us; I've always thought you were the "boldest" member of the family. Who knew?

Julie  – (12 January 2009 at 14:16)  
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Sarah  – (13 January 2009 at 18:13)  

No, this doesn't surprise me. You did order the Yankee Doodle Spud at Gardski's, but you wouldn't SAY it -- you pointed to it on the menu. So funny -- I wouldn't enjoy catching things with my mouth, either. No, thank you. Don't honor me in that way. A round of applause will suffice.

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