Just between you, me and the dock piling, last month I had my first steamed crabs of the season, at Cantler's . . . under false pretenses. Whew! I feel better already, getting that off my chest. But now, I suppose, you'll want an explanation--since, as editor of this august publication, I am a role model for you and your children and therefore should be held to a higher standard of crabhouse behavior.
So here it is, the truth and nothing but: My friend Lee and I, having reserved one of the Chesapeake Boating Club's 22-foot dual consoles for a Saturday afternoon, had decided to venture across the Severn River to Whitehall Bay for a late lunch at the aforementioned crabhouse. . . . Yes, your honor, that would be Cantler's Riverside Inn, on Mill Creek. Yes, your honor, they do indeed have excellent crabs there. . . . So, anyway, it being the first really nice, rain-free Saturday of the summer, approximately two-thirds of the population of Anne Arundel County, plus their cousins, had also decided to have a late lunch at Cantler's that day.
Arriving at Cantler's by boat on a day like this can be deceiving. "Hmm, it doesn't look too bad," I said to Lee as we approached, following a restaurant employee's gestures toward an open spot on the bulkhead. But the reason it didn't look too bad was that, from the water, we could see neither the jammed parking lot nor any of the 3.7 million people who were waiting outside for a table. Gulp, we said as we climbed the stairs and began to understand, to see, just how crowded the place actually was.
And that, your honor, is when good fortune smiled upon us. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say good fortune gave us a wink and nudge. As we hovered outside the swarm of people at the hostess station, a woman who was walking briskly by, headed for the door, paused and handed Lee a pager/buzzer and said. "Here . . . this is for Preston, party of three, but we have to go. They should be buzzing you soon. We've been here for half an hour already."
Lee, flabbergasted, turned to me and repeated what the dear, precious woman had said. "Get out!" I said. "Really?" Yes, really, she said. "Hmmm," I said, "this presents an interesting ethical dilemma, does it not? I believe it was Aristotle who once said--" Naah! I didn't say that! I said, "Well, Mrs. Preston, perhaps we should tell the hostess that one of our party had to leave and we are now down to two?"
"Yes, Mr. Preston," Lee said, stifling a giggle. "Perhaps we should." And she did just that, forever sealing our fates as partners in minor opportunistic crime. Before you could say Callinectes sapidus, in a fraction of the time it should have taken, we were seated and facing a pile of extra-large jimmies--and against us, the lucky new Prestons, of course, they didn't stand a chance.
So there you have it, your honor; that's my story. Do with me what you will, what you must, what justice demands. But, if it please the court, I have one more thing to say: Bless you, dear Prestons, wherever and whoever you are!