Page 55 - WTP Vol. VIII #3
P. 55

  Honorable Mention 2019
for Literary
 In the water tank, Karen’s crab has levered its dingy brown abdomen up against the glass and is scrab- bling skyward, legs flexing and flailing. Its claws are rendered impotent with yellow tape, but there is a kind of hydraulic beauty to it, she thinks. She takes a deep swig of her beer.
I thought crabs were crustaceans, Karen says. They are.
But you said they’re shellfish.
Crustaceans are a kind of shellfish.
Are you sure?
My cousin is allergic to shellfish and he’s allergic to crab so yeah, I’m sure, he says, and she supposes that is that. She makes a mental note to look it up later.
He looks impatient. I imagine it’s in the preparation. The authenticity of the sauce, or—
And how would you know?
How would you know whether it’s authentic or not? Well I don’t, per se. But Lonely Planet says so.
She can imagine the blog title: Authentic Singaporean Chili Crab. Delectable, succulent, sweet. These are words she can already imagine him using. For the res- taurant itself: no-frills, quaint, charming. Something about the red vinyl chairs and sticky laminate tables, the Chinese lanterns suspended from the rafters, the open-air concept. The turtle pond at the entrance populated with poured-cement cranes, a massive, horror-movie sized crab sculpture emerging from
Singapore is a foodie’s paradise, Patrick had ex- plained when he proposed the trip, a mix of Chinese, Indian, Malay, and British culinary history that made it a unique melting pot—or wok, he said with a wink and chuckle. It was one of Anthony Bourdain’s favor- ite places. A tiny country, passionate about food. No self-respecting world traveler could skip it. It would be a great way to launch the blog, to get his name and her face out there. The country was expensive but the famous hawker stalls were a bargain and his uncle gave him frequent flyer miles for their tickets, so they had splurged a little on a romantic hotel with lush red carpets and satin bedspreads. Really, the whole thing should have been perfect.
What makes this place the best? Karen asks. What do you mean?
Like, do they feed the crabs Kobe beef? Do they exer- cise them to build up muscle?
the water, and a sign that says, “Caution: turtle bites hand.” The text will be easy.
But the pictures, from the beginning, have been the issue. People don’t just want pretty pictures of land- scapes and food, Patrick explained—they want narra- tive, a human touch. Romance, ideally, which is where Karen comes in. One of Karen’s friends from college
is a fashion influencer on Instagram, posting coy, de- liberately nonchalant street style photos taken by her boyfriend, free clothes and paid partnerships across the globe—and she’s short and has a nose that’s too small for her face, so if she can do it, Karen thought, how hard could it be? As a kid her favorite thing was playing dress-up, she always did her friends’ hair
for school dances or nights out, and the balding, eczemic man who took her senior photos said she was remarkably photogenic. You could always model, an acting teacher told her in college, a not-so-subtle alternative to Karen’s professed dream of seeing her
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