Monday, September 21, 2009
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In the film Wedding Crashers, Flip, who is the villain and resident douchebag declares, "Yeah! Crabcakes and Football. That's what Maryland does!"
I laughed at that a little harder than necessary because I always get excited when I know the setting of a film, song, or book. I feel like I'm in on the joke.
For example, the timeless and classic film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was not, contrary to popular belief, filmed in San Dimas, California (where, if you were unawares, the high school football RULES!), but in the suburbs of Phoenix.
When Bill and Ted chased Abe Lincoln and Socrates around the mall, that was the Metrocenter, the very mall where I went ice skating with my fellow Brownies. The water park where Bill and Ted ditched Napoleon was in Mesa. I hung out with my first (but certainly not last) summer camp "boyfriend" there, and (gasp!) held his hand.
No snogging. I was 13.
The only other film I can think of that took place in AZ was the Cohen brothers' masterpiece, Raising Arizona. I remember disliking this film with EXTREME PREJUDICE because it made people from Arizona look like idiots. Of course, this just shows that I was not ready for the Cohen brothers' unique style of writing and directing. Again, I was around 13.
There have been all sorts of films set in DC, which doesn't count in my mind as my hood. DC is powerful and urban and rife with backhanded political chicanery. I live in an area that still grows its own tobacco, drying it in sagging barns that date back to the Hoover administration. Our crime report primarily deals with the theft of ATVs and iPods.It's apples and oranges.
Wedding Crashers does have a Maryland vibe to it, though, having been filmed on the Eastern Shore. And yes, I must say that football and crabcakes are what Maryland "does."
Football? It's done, but just not so well. The Redskins won yesterday, but in a weaselly way, from what I understand. The colleges around here play football, but, much like Paul's alma mater, the University of AZ, the colleges get more press during March Madness than during January's Bowl season. Nevertheless, people like football here. There's a guy who religiously blows up his Redskins lawn ornament on any given Sunday, only to deflate it for the rest of the week. I almost wish Paul and I were football fans, just so we could get our hands on the Game Day Chili everybody's always making.
Crabcakes and crabs in general are done here, and done really well. There is a roadside produce stand/nursery that sells all sorts of stuff, including crabs. These are not just any crabs. Heavens, no. All of the stand's signs, posted up and down the main thoroughfare, declare that these crabs are "lively." On Sunday, as I was passing the blow-up Redskin, I noted that the crabs were not only lively, but they were $5 a dozen.
I couldn't pass that up. Owen and I walked up to the stand and ordered the crabs. "Make them extra lively, please!" I snarked.
The man put a garbage bag in a bucket, put on his thick gloves, and pulled out these terrific, prehistoric creatures. They flailed their claws and protested as he stuffed my thirteen (!) crabs into the bag. As we drove home, the bag moved and claws poked through the plastic. "What are they doing?" Owen kept asking. "Are they mad?"
"Well, yes, Owen. They're crabby." We went home, and Paul set up the boiling pot, with the Old Bay seasoning and vinegar (another weird Maryland sidebar--when you go to the movies, you have the option of getting Old Bay seasoning on your popcorn.)
"What are you doing, Daddy?" Owen asked, from a safe distance.
"Cooking the crabs, Owen." Paul replied, as he hit an escaping crab on the claw, forcing it back to its hot fate.
"Oh." He looked at the pot, watching the steam rise up, clouding the overhead microwave. "Do the crabs like it in there?"
Paul didn't mince his words. "Probably not, Buddy. We're cooking them."
Time passed, and Owen asked, "Why aren't they trying to get out?"
Paul replied, "Because they're dead. Circle of life, Buddy."
"Oh," Owen replied, so not a Buddhist. "Okay."
The crabs were done, and Paul placed them on the platter. He scooped out the errant claws. Owen asked, "How did those get there?"
Paul didn't miss a beat as he replied, "They probably came off in the struggle." Ah, looking death right in the eye. Yeah! That's what Paul does!
Again, Owen was nonplussed, but he declared that he likes crabs. He was especially partial to the hammering and pounding.
It's possible that Owen will someday see Wedding Crashers, perhaps on television, and he'll feel a spark of recognition. As a Maryland native, he'll have that same inside knowledge as a certain young girl, many years ago, as she watched Keanu Reeves (and that other guy) create imaginary worlds in her very real stomping grounds.