“What time is it?”I check my watch and outside the car, the wind curls between the spaces in the buildings and surges down 17th, tussling with the trees.
“It’s 2:48.” I say. My dad puts his face in his hands and runs them down into the scruff on his chin like a penitent man washing his face in holy water. He has that blinky look in his eyes like a little kid, fresh out of bed on Christmas morning. Barely tethered. Hanging by a thread.
“Hmmmmm…” he groans. “ No.We’ll wait 5 more minutes.”
“ We could start walking now. Post up at the bar until 3 rolls around.”
“No, I’ll start ordering before happy hour.”
“Ordering what?” I say, but I’m just poking the bear now. Playing soccer with a beehive.
“Oysters!” he says and then the dancing has started and I have to ride it out before we can talk again. The car sloshes back and forth in the blustery wind, grooving with him and his personal version of cabbage patch. When the dance is over he says,
“What time is it now?”
“Okay let’s go.”
Let’s talk about oysters.
As a food source, they’re incredibly well balanced. Pretty even split of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids, which all make for a happy belly. They’ve been on the menu for at least the last 2,000 years, when the Greeks started dredging them up out of the sea and punching them into their faces. They loved oysters so much that they began to cultivate them after finding that they would grow on the inside of broken pottery that was left submerged in coastal waters. You can attribute all the aphrodisiac references that accompany the pseudo-sexual looking mollusk to the Ancient Greeks as well. The very term “aphrodisiac” comes from the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, who emerged from the sea in an Oyster shell. And, in case you were wondering whether any of those ridiculous, “oysters will make your Peter Dinklage want to engage in a Game of Bones” rumors are true… They ARE! Scientists have found a rare amino acid present in oysters that makes your sex hormones go all squirrely. It’s rumored that Casanova (AKA: Italian R. Kelly) ate somewhere between 4 and 10 DOZEN oysters with breakfast everyday. If Casanova were alive today and living in Seattle, I know where I could find him on a Tuesday afternoon. You’d find him at the bottom of a glass bellied up to a dark wood bar on 15th street, watching my dad and I shoot back oysters like somebody bet us we couldn’t, thinking to himself “I wish I loved anything as much as those dudes love oysters.” Well, keep dreaming Casanova, you don’t.
The jazz through the speakers is that fast paced, jamming on the keys type of jazz, which is pretty fitting for the wind ripping at the trees outside and the feverish pace at which we are eating oysters. The waitress keeps coming to see how we’re doing and the prognosis is always, “out of breath and out of oysters.” What do you want from us though? They taste like the sea is giggling into your mouth. Each type has a slightly different flavor to it. This one’s buttery, and that one’s got a flash of garlic to it. Bit of melon, hint of sweetness. Beer comes, beer goes and we are happy. When it comes to oysters in Seattle, for me, its almost always Coastal Kitchen. Dark wood and light tiles, stiff cocktails and something akin to bossa nova usually on the speakers. Every time I walk into the place, I want to put on a fedora and commiserate over the last “dame” who walked into my office. When it comes to which day of the week to eat oysters at Coastal Kitchen, for me, its always Tuesday. After 3pm on Tuesdays, it’s one dollar an oyster, which in and of itself is enough to get anybodys Dinklage wiggling.
He says,”while you and your wife were on vacation and I was house sitting for you, I walked here by myself.”
“Oh yeah?” I say.
“Yeah,” he says, and he’s setting up the next oyster, blast of lemon, drizzle of mignonette. “I ate 5 dozen oysters by myself, drank three martinis and staggered out the door. Barely made it home.”
“Holy shit.” I say.