Next time my wife Katherine accuses me of never preparing food for her when she was pregnant, I will remind her how I put my life and handyman skills on the line by cooking her mangrove crabs.
So, OK, I admit I did not cook for her a lot.
But it was more than seven years ago, for goodness sake, and my cooking skills were not all that good. Especially when it came to pizza.
Some pregnant women have cravings for coconuts or anchovies or chocolate ice cream or peanut butter sandwiches or all of those together.
But Katherine had constant cravings for pizza and THIS is why we ate out a lot during that time.
The fact that we lived on an isolated island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and good pizzas were hard to come by made life a bit difficult but probably no more difficult than for the hubby of a pregnant woman in the Arctic who wants fresh coconut milk on her cornflakes.
"I know what I will do," I volunteered one day. "I'll cook some mangrove crabs for a change."
Um, it might not have been like that; I cannot remember. I might have been under orders to cook SOMETHING because I was not game to try making pizza.
But you have to understand: I was raised in a place where you did not HAVE to cook your own pizza. You rang and ordered it, and it was delivered piping hot by a person wearing a red cap and driving a little car with a big red plastic fake telephone on top.
Somebody told me that cooking mangrove crabs was dead easy. And, foolishly, I believed them.
You bought the crabs live at the local market but they were bound with rubber bands.
You took them home, bunged them in the freezer to put them to sleep, then popped them in boiling water. Easy. They wouldn't even feel a thing.
The thing I liked most about the piping hot pizzas delivered by the people who wore caps and drove little cars with fake plastic telephones on top was the warning message on the boxes: "Careful, this pizza is hot."
Alas, the three mangrove crabs I got from the market on that tropical island did not come with instructions written on the side at all.
No: "Caution, this crab has nasty great big pinchers."
Nor was I told exactly how long to keep them in the freezer or how long to boil them.
And, most importantly, there were no instructions about when to remove the rubber bands which kept the great big pinchers under control.
Er, I know NOW that five minutes in the freezer is way too short for three crabs.
I also know NOW that, under no circumstances, do you liberate a shivering cold, condemned mangrove crab by cutting him free from his bonds, not if you care about your life and limbs.
Everything seemed to be going so well. The big pot of water was boiling and the crabs all seemed to be asleep - until I snipped them free.
Next thing I knew there were three cranky crabs scurrying every which way around the kitchen floor, looking for a way out or, perhaps, a toe to pinch.
I did not know what to do.
I was alone in the house and I was clearly outnumbered by three killer crabs.
I did think seriously about herding them towards the front door, showing them out and wishing them a nice day.
But I am not sure that would have gone down well with Katherine, and I just could not face up to more sub-standard island takeaway pizza for dinner.
So I did what any desperate handyman/cook would do. I grabbed a claw hammer and, well, battered the three crabs into submission one by one in a squeamish frenzy.
Anyone who has seen me in action with a hammer and nail will wonder how the heck I hit the mark. I have lousy hand-eye co-ordination. I find it hard enough to hit a stationery nail. Moving targets like cantankerous crabs trying to pinch my extremities add quite a bit to the degree of difficulty.
But I triumphed. Finally.
It was quite a wonder there were not a few more cracked tiles on the kitchen floor. The crab shells were certainly more than a little cracked when I finally got them cooked and on to our plates.
But Katherine did not say anything. I think she was just happy that I had finally come through as a cook. Though come to think of it, she has not asked me since to hammer a single picture hook into a wall.
©March 3, 2003 John Martin. All Rights Reserved
If you liked this short column perhaps you'll like my new comic fiction novel, which has nearly 250 pages of laughs. Check out the first chapter here free