Today, Bayou Boils & Catering brings you the legend of a very legendary legend: Crawford the Crawfish. To really understand Crawford, you have to put yourself in his shoes, all six of them. Yes, you have to put yourself in the muggy humid Cajun air of New Orleans. Just stop for a second in your busy life and listen close. Just listen to that springy zydeco music echoing through the low hanging tree limbs, covered in Spanish moss hanging down to the still water.
Nothing is moving but that cloud of mosquitoes that you have to keep swatting. Yeah, now you’re starting to get the feel of that fateful night when Crawford first emerged from that little crawfish egg buried deep in the Mississippi mud.
Life was hard from the start. His childhood home was nothing special. Just a pile of round bits of mud, really, but that’s how it was for everyone in his neighborhood. His friends weren’t the sort your momma would want you to run around with either. Charlie Catfish, for example, was a bit of a bottom feeder from a long line of bottom feeders.
“Wha ya think de meanin a life, deh Charlie?” Crawford asked. You may think he sounds funny, but that’s just his delightful Cajun dialect coming through, and he wouldn’t judge you on how you talk, so don’t get too bent out of shape about it, alright?
“I teh you whad it is, ya know,” Charlie said. “Yo life deh only one you got, ya know? You gotta be wat ya meantta be. Like me, myself? Imma be deh golden fried catfish somedeh, ya know? Yeah, dat gon be deh life. It jus gonna be me an deh side of fries, maybe some crispy hush puppies and some dat sauce, ya know, wit deh real tangy taste. Oh an one dem slice a lemon!”
Crawford just smiled and nodded like he had learned to do whenever the folks in his town started talking wistfully about the future. Like this for instance; when he asked Shelly Shrimp what she thought the meaning of life was, she said, “tah somedeh become one dem boiled shrimp and relax deh day away in one dem nice big pot a dat hot bubbly watah.”
Crawford just nodded and scooted away backward like crawfish are known to do when they are put in a socially awkward situation.
“So wha ya think deh meanin a life, deh Mr. Crawllins?” Crawford asked Mr. Crawllins, the assistant Principal of Muddington Middle School.
“Oh dat deh easy quession, deh little Crawford,” he said with a loud belly laugh. “ We deh Crawfish, ya know? If you deh lucky one you gon be deh Crawfish ètoufèe, o maybe you gon be in dat spicy gumbo. Yeah, maybe you gon be de po’ boy o som like dat.”
Mr. Crawllins looked dreamily out over the silty, mud that tossed to and fro in the gentle eddies of the Mississipp’.
“But ya know, little Crawford, if you deh luckiest deh is, maybe jus maybe yo gon be dat boiled crawfish. You gon be red an spicy wit dat nice Cajun spice. You gon be wit dat nice red potatoes and corn on deh cob. Yeah, dat deh one you want. Dat deh real life.”
“Yeah , dat soun nice,” Crawford said nodding, smiling, and scooting away backward leaving a little cloud of mud behind him, I mean in front of him. But the truth is, Crawford didn’t really think it sounded too nice. It’s not that he didn’t appreciate those kinds of dreams. In fact, those were the lofty dreams of his father, but just like all of his friends’ goals of becoming a spicy, delectable Cajun cuisine, they never came to pass. Those unfulfilled dreams seemed to hang over the heads of the folks in Muddington. Crawford couldn’t put a claw on it, but some how those dreams didn’t seem to appetizing to him. Or maybe they seem far too appetizing.
“Well wha ya think deh meaning a life den, Crawford?” Charlie Catfish said wiggling his wishers.
“Me? I wan be in one dem band,” Crawford said a little embarrassed to say it out loud. “Ya know, one dem band dat play on deh porch a dat resran on Saturday, ya know?”
Charlie Catfish didn’t say anything at first, waiting for Crawford to start laughing about the joke he had just made. But Crawford didn’t laugh.
“Ya no jokin den, huh?” Charlie Catfish said as he started laughing. “Ya gon play deh Zydeco den, huh? Okay, maybe I play deh bass fo ya?!”
Crawford scooted away in shame to nestle himself into a little cavern of mud somewhere. He knew it was a ridiculous dream. He knew it could never possibly happen. How could a crustacean possibly acquire the skills and dexterity to make zydeco music considering they have no hands? Nevertheless, as the sun began to set, he could hear the band begin to play over the water, and he was glad he had applied for Uncle Cody’s Zydeco Conservatoire. He knew the letter would be getting back to him sometime in the next few days, so all he could do was wait. Wait and practice playing his homemade frottoir. And that’s just what he did.