Naked Cowboys and f***ing Oysters

Oysters have a reputation. They get around and they get you to get around. So you might have read the title of this post as a euphemism. But it is not. It is a lament.

When my mother called to tell me that she had a horrible stomach bug from oysters I didn’t really believe her. I thought of all of the times we discussed our lives of privilege  and wondered if complaining over oysters was perhaps the pinnacle of whining on the yacht. Then, as my kids say, I searched it up on the internet and found that the vibrio virus was real. At this stage in her illness my mother was more on the yacht’s lifeboat on choppy seas, so offered sympathy.
screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-11-39-25-amOne of the most fascinating parts of my mother’s Cape Cod community is the local fishing trade. With the addition of environmentally conscious fish farms the life of the fisherperson has not changed in hundreds of years. Except that there are fisherpeople…not just fishermen. In the summer I watch their barnacle covered boats leave the old wooden piers and appreciate this continuity. The century long connection to the sea and the effortless way local eating nourished the families on this spit of land well before it was on trend.

If there is ever a time that this workforce is celebrated beyond the sunrise cruise and the sunset cocktail it is during Oysterfest which was cancelled last weekend because, as my mother told me,  the oysters are tainted. “I didn’t know oysters had taints” said Steve and I remembered why I married him.

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-8-07-48-amUnlike the usually 24 hour wretched and wretching food poisoning these “delicacies” are carrying a bacteriovirus. It isn’t this risk that keeps me from eating oysters. Even oysters pure as the saltwater they came from disgust me. How can I not like an erotic food that has names like “naked cowboy”? Easy. Eating oysters is like swallowing someone else’s skinned tongue. Which is less of an aphrodisiac than a tongue that still has its skin. The fact that you need to open your throat and shut down your gag reflex should speak to their lack of deliciousness. If they were good we wouldn’t be gulping with the speed of a Jagermeister shot. Even so I enjoy watching other people slurp them down with relish…or at least with mignonette.

Last summer Steve and I had a date night in Welfleet, home of the world famous oyster and fest. Wanting to leave the house before our dinner reservation we took a seat on an outdoor hilltop patio overlooking the small town. Steve was wearing my favorite shirt and we held hands across the pebbled glass table not saying much. He ordered some oysters and I took pictures of the moment that I thought represented vacation more than many others. Turns out those are not moments I choose to remember. After finishing our drinks we took a short walk and ended at our favorite restaurant where we finished the night having one of the worst fights we have ever had.

Years ago (almost 13) I would rant and he would listen in silence. I would spit and he would swallow. Yet for over a decade we have worked on this. I practice pausing and speaking rather than spilling out a rant. Steve has worked on responding in the moment so we can work things through together instead of holding things inside.

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-8-14-52-amBut this dinner brought us back to our early days. What started as a conversation ended as a stalemate. He in stony silence, me spewing sentence after sentence trying to incite a response.

Months later I can barely remember the content of our argument. But I do remember the oysters beforehand and I would rather have a bad association with them than with his turquoise shirt.

To sum up. They make you sick. They bring on war as much as love. They are gross.

Three strikes oysters…three strikes.

But then again maybe I should just suck it up and suck one down…there should be no whining on the yacht.



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Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble,, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at

12 thoughts on “Naked Cowboys and f***ing Oysters”

  1. Not a fan of oysters, cockles or snails – our village is on the estuary of the River Blackwater & the area is famed for its oysters. Caviar on the other hand, is delicious – although the thought that you’re eating fish eggs is off putting. Food poisoning is ghastly – fish/shellfish is the worst – from dodgy cod I was ill for a week. Your poor mum.

  2. I am not a fan of raw oysters, but I do love cooked ones, Anna. One of my family traditions growing up was to have oyster stew on Christmas eve. Even though no one in my own household likes it but me I still make one most years and enjoy every delicious slurp and each luscious oyster. I hope your Mom is okay, and glad you’ve put the fight behind you. 🙂

  3. I’m am not the world’s most adventurous eater and oysters are certainly not on my list – although your marital argument style I could certainly relate to – very similar progression to mine (loved ‘spit and swallow’ as descriptors!)

  4. You were kind in your description of oysters being skinned tongues. I’ve always thought of them as buckets of snot. Like they should be served with Kleenex instead of napkins. I love the whining on the yacht comment. Every time I complain about what my life IS as opposed to what my life SHOULD be, my friend says,”Well, no kidding, Lee. If life were as it should be, the worst thing you and I would ever have to manage would be escargot forks!”

    Like you, I’m the spitter in the argument, and like you, I’m really trying not to spray my spouse so thoroughly and indiscriminately.

    Great post.

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