A lobster walks into a Christian bookstore….
Sounds like the set-up for a joke, right?
But it really happened! Well, the lobster actually walked onto a Christian bookstore parking lot, and launched itself at me from under a nearby car as I was walking to my own car. Let’s just say I was ill-prepared, emotionally, to encounter a lobster in a parking lot.
I was just minding my business, having had just enjoyed a rare afternoon all to myself. I had just eaten a scone and sipped an apple juice (unfermented, I swear!) in the lovely adjoining coffee shop, and browsed about the store, and walked outside.
When suddenly…a lobster!
I should tell someone! What if he sprung from the pokey of someone’s grocery bag? What if he had been hitchhiking all the way from Maine (in the picture, he does appear to be ‘thumbing’ it….) What if my cheese had finally slid off my cracker, and he was but the crustacean manifestation of said cheese-sliding? Interesting. I always expected it would be pink elephants….
The unexpected can be alarming. My first action was to scream and dance about to avoid it.
And then to laugh. And then to share my discovery with the folks in the store.
And then to run back into the bookstore and alert the clerks that they might want to contain it, or call an agency (is there a “PETAL” -People for the Ethical Treatment of Lobsters?) or melt some butter and enjoy the bounty God had mysteriously appeared, “manna from Heaven-style.”
Even though the people who worked at this particular Christian bookstore had always been discernible grumpy (I don’t to make any broad, sweeping generalizations here, but I have encountered many grumpy workers at an untold number of Christian bookstores over the years….)
Breathless, I ran in and told the two clerks behind the counter. I was the only customer in the front of the store. The woman and man working there were standing with their arms crossed across their chests, frowning. Just as they had been minutes ago.
“There is a live lobster in your parking lot,” I said.
The female clerk blinked at me slowly.
“It must have fallen out of a seafood truck,” I suggested.
Nothing. No reaction whatsoever. They must think I’m CRAZY.
“Could you come out and see it?” I asked, tentatively. “It seems pretty aggressive.” I snorted a little laugh then, because if it wasn’t a silly situation before, their nonchalant attitudes made it even sillier.
The young man uncrossed his arms and followed me out to the lot, where – sure enough – a very pale and angry small lobster was still under my car.
“Well,” he said. “That’s a lobster.” And he walked back into the store, with nary any suggestion of amusement.
I managed to pull out of the space without crushing the little guy – which in retrospect may have been a merciful act, what with the arid conditions of a Christian bookstore parking lot. And the frosty conditions IN the store.
It made me think a lot about grumpiness in bookstores that are spreading the gospel, and the general absurdity of things. I think God gets a kick out of us getting a kick out of absurdity. I think God gets a kick out of lobsters thumbing a ride in parking lots.
Because life is both serious and silly – and super short. And, although nobody is happy all the time, its meant to be lived with a generous measure of mirth. It’s important to share the mirth.
You know, not to be shellfish with it.