My gentleman friend's offspring is celebrating his eleventh birthday today, an alarming fact considering he was nine when we began dating.
I'm going to leave that poorly-used pronoun so you can decide if I'm a creepy pedophile, or merely mind-numbed by the number of times I flagged awkward pronoun usage in manuscripts I judged for a writing contest this weekend.
For the record, my gentleman friend is a consenting adult, and his offspring is celebrating his second two-digit birthday. Since I'm still pretty new to this kid thing, I sought my gentleman friend's counsel on selecting an appropriate gift for his spawn.
"What about giving him crabs?" I suggested as I perused the internet a few nights ago.
My gentleman friend didn't look up from his computer. "Did you just suggest a venereal disease as a potential gift for my son?"
"No, hermit crabs," I said, pointing at a photo of a beautifully-decorated terrarium advertised for sale on craigslist. "They're pretty low-maintenance as far as pets go, and it might be fun."
He politely refrained from pointing out that we already have that brand of fun in the form of five cats, a dog, and two large fish tanks. In fact, he agreed it would be a fine gift for me to present his offspring, so I promptly emailed the man who posted the craigslist ad.
After a bit of haggling, we settled on a price and agreed to meet in the parking lot of a nearby fitness facility. I arrived first, and when I spotted the car he'd described on the phone, headed over to claim my new purchase.
"Are you the guy with the crabs?" I called as he opened his car door.
Two strangers entering the gym turned and stared. The seller frowned and glanced toward his trunk. "I have the terrarium," he announced loudly enough for the strangers to hear. "Also known as a crabitat."
"Right. A crabitat. I have the cash right here."
At this point, things started feeling a bit like a drug deal. Not that most drug deals involve shredded coconut husks and invertebrates with claws. As we retrieved the tank from the back of the man's car, he kindly shared tips on proper care and feeding of hermit crabs.
"It's important to keep things moist," he said. "Wetter is better."
"Absolutely," I agreed, trying not to snicker.
"Need help carrying it to your car?"
"Nah, I've got it."
I hoisted the large tank into my arms and got halfway back to my car before realizing the tie on the side of my wrap skirt had come undone. A smarter woman would have set the terrarium down on the pavement and retied the skirt.
I opted to bare half my backside to the patrons of Xcel Fitness. I finally got the crabitat loaded into my car, got my skirt retied, and headed home to request my gentleman friend's help in moving the terrarium.
"Did everything go OK?" he asked.
"Definitely," I said. "I showed everyone my underwear, but at least I got the crabs."
"Only you," he said, and carried the tank up the stairs.