One of our upcoming titles for Spring 2009 is What’s Realer than Football? A Long Snapper’s Journey, by Mike DeRosa. Mike has a fascinating story to tell about his long road from member of the 1983 Aloha Bowl champion Penn State Nittany Lions to successful office supplies entrepreneur. Along the way, Mike spent time as a balloon company spokesman, a personal security advisor, a relationship counselor, a foot model, and a pretzel restaurant franchiser. If that sounds like a busy life, it has been. But Mike has also spent a good deal of time “doing pretty much nothing at all, but learning a lot about life—and about myself.” The following is a brief excerpt from his account of the three years he lived in Malaysia as part of the American beach community there.
When I got tired of people, I’d hang out with the coconut crabs. I guess I should tell you what a coconut crab is. It’s not really a crab, first off. It’s like a really, really big hermit crab, which isn’t really a crab either. Hermit crabs are always outgrowing their shells and looking for new ones. Coconut crabs are so big, they’ve given up looking for shells that will fit. (Actually, a football helmet would be just about the right size, but I hadn’t brought mine with me.) They just wander around hoping no one will hurt them. It’s a very specialized way of life for a coconut crab. It’ll hide behind a tree or a trashcan or the side of a building, waiting for someone to walk by holding a coconut. Then it’ll jump out, and if it’s lucky the person will get scared and drop the coconut so it breaks open. (That’s why some people call them “robber crabs.”) Alternatively, it’ll walk around with a coconut in its claws and a sorrowful look on its face, hoping someone will take pity and open the coconut for it. That makes for a pretty precarious existence, but it’s worked for them so far. Living the way I did, I could definitely see where they were coming from. And maybe I’m being sentimental, but it seemed like they felt kind of the same about me. I got along with those coconut crabs. They’re nice animals to know, once they come out of their shells. But it made me sad to think that if man ever disappears from the earth, the coconut crab will be the next to go.
“Please, sir, can you spare a coconut?”
(Image courtesy http://www.calvintang.com)