Dec 23

This is an actual photograph of Shelldon

So my phone rings the other day and when I answer it my friend Hana’s on the line, sounding panicked.

“Are you sitting down?” she asks me.

Of course I’m not sitting down. I never sit down. I’m too ADD to sit down.

“Yes,” I lie, crouching just a little to compensate for my subterfuge.

“I’m so sorry to have to be the one to tell you this,” she says, “but Shelldon’s dead.”

In case you’ve come across this blog not because you’re a close friend who feels obligated to read this post in case I pop quiz you on my recent writings but because you’re a genuinely willing reader of my blog, I should give you the back story on Shelldon. Shelldon was my pet hermit crab last year, intended for permanent residence in my speech therapy classroom, and named after my favorite character on The Big Bang Theory. Due to circumstances beyond my control, Shelldon was unable to remain a classroom pet and I ended up adopting him out to my friend Hana and her son. They have all been a big, happy family for the past year. Shelldon even eats with them at the dinner table, although he prefers crawling across the plate to eating on it.

So after she disclosed his death, I opened my mouth to comfort Hana in her time of need.

“How on earth did you kill him?” I exclaimed [in a comforting tone]. “Do you realize it is almost impossible for a hermit crab to perish?! I forgot to feed mine for 3 months in elementary school and he was fine!”

Her litany of rationales for his untimely expiration (the cold weather, old age, boredom, shark attack) was suddenly interrupted by exclamations of the most unexpected kind –


It is usually customary to confirm one’s death before calling loved ones to share the news. I pointed this out in my typically comforting and empathetic fashion.

“You don’t know the half of it,” she replied, “I already posted his eulogy on facebook. I guess I should delete it until we’re sure.”

So we attempted to determine whether Shelldon was dead or alive. Basically, here were two adults, one with a bachelor’s degree and one with a graduate degree, which I’m pretty sure equals a doctorate, and we were being outsmarted by a crustacean.

Our basic dilemma was Shelldon’s complete absence of movement, which according to Hana’s observations—-which were becoming increasingly unreliable considering the premature eulogy—-had lasted for days. We had to do something that would force Shelldon, if still alive, to move. Which led me to think of the one thing that would motivate Shelldon to book it.

“Hana, put him in the sink and start running the water,” I told her. “Land hermit crabs can’t swim, so his instinct to protect himself will kick in and he’ll have to come out of his shell and start trying to climb away.”

A few moments later I heard the sound of running water, followed by shrieks of joy. “You’re alive! This is wonderful!” Followed by stern discipline. “Don’t scare me like that again, do you hear me?” (He doesn’t. Hermit crabs can’t hear. He may have heard the vibrations from her shrieks.) Followed by returning to the phone to pick it up and saying, “I have to go. I have a status update to delete.”

So as you reflect upon this story and its relevance (there is none*) to your life during the Christmas season, remember to put a heat lamp on top of loved ones to ensure they are warm enough to come out of their shell this winter.

–Troi out

*Really, if you find the relevance here, you’re thinking too hard.