My 46th is days away and I was at the mirror taking stock. Age travels deceptively, like light moving through space.
Over the holidays, I let my beard run amok. It’s now a salt-and-pepper beard, with a little paprika thrown in. "Looks good, man," said a co-worker, humoring us both.
New Year’s Eve, my wife brought home a dozen Blue Point oysters, whose own beards had been trimmed. Her gift was a great sacrifice, for oysters do not agree with her. “A treat,” she called it, in this way that she has. Oysters don’t come easy in Oklahoma, not the kind that swim, anyway. That they're even available this far inland is a testament to all sorts of determination on the part of many, not leastly the oysters.
I don't eat enough of them to get very good with the knife, so opening a dozen is something of a task. I don a protective glove - a wool mitten, actually - and commandeer this wicked, curved blade that my father-in-law crafted and gave to me with three dozen Gulf oysters one spring. It is a little awkward getting into the hinge of the shell, but it feels good in my hand and so, once in awhile, I make do.
In fact, I've decided to make the New Year's oyster thing a tradition - to keep my hand in and my appetite whetted. I don't suspect one can lose a taste for oysters, but I don't want to tempt the fates by long bouts of omission. I drank this season's with a Pacific Rim Dry Reisling (first nine) and a Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc (last three). It took twice as long to open them as it did to eat them. Opening an oyster with the tip of a thick, sharp blade takes touch, the kind of touch that comes and goes with practice. On one particularly crafty beast whose hinge lie hidden under a craggy outcropping, I caught a glimpse of the small scar I've worn on my left hand since 14, at the top of that flap of surplus skin between the thumb and finger, where a linoleum blade that I lost control of zipped through the skin and out again, like a snake striking. It left an opening into which I could see weirdness: purple and orange vein and sinew, before the blood filled the gap.
A few years ago, Bodean Seafood, where we buy oysters when we buy them, sold me a dozen Wellfleet in a cute-as-heck little canvas bag. Wellfleet oysters in Oklahoma ... imagine it. I'll look for them next year.