Did you know? Lobsters can fly… After you get them through TSA security.
I was in the Florida Keys recently with my friend and videographer Jeff (we are making a couple videos from the trip, so you’ll get to see that on our YouTube channel very soon), and along with the usual Florida activities (relaxing, swimming, relaxing, eating, fishing, and more relaxing) we also got lobster permits and had a couple successful lobster outings. These are Spiny Lobsters ( sometimes called Caribbean Lobster ) and are not closely related to the Maine Lobster with the big claws, that you find up north, but my stomach loves them both. The lobsters will stay alive if you keep them cool and covered with a towel soaked in briny water. We still had several lobsters when it was time to go back. The flight from Miami to New York is not too long – maybe two and a half hours if I remember correctly, so you just keep them wet and cool for the flight they should be fine. So we packed them up, with a frozen water bottle at the bottom as refrigerant, to share our catch with friends and family back home.
Our flight was early afternoon, so we had plenty of time after packing up and checking to make sure we had not left anything behind. We said goodbye to our host and off we went. The Florida Keys are basically one long peninsula, so there’s just one long highway running up. We made a few leisurely stops to pick up a few souvenirs to bring along. We got plenty of things to keep the kids and wife happy, we snapped a few tourist photos, picked up some pie… and still we had plenty of time, so we decided to stop by to have lunch with a friend in Miami. That’s of course the point at which we pushed our luck and the plan starts to unravel.
Lunch was delicious and conversation was great, but at a certain point, Jeff looks at the time and urgently interrupts – “We gotta book Tony!” One last picture. Jeff snapped a photo of me and my friend, and then it was a mad dash to Ft. Lauderdale airport.
Me and Valter Romeo of Marenas Resort and Spa, just before the mad dash to airport.
No time to refill the gas for the rental car. We were going to have to suck up the refill charge. A missed exit to the car rental. Finally there – throw the keys at the attendant, Jeff drops and breaks an expensive camera lens ( no time to cry ) and then a dash to the shuttle bus to take us to our terminals. We barely, barely, make the shuttle, and I get off at one terminal, turn around to wish Jeff luck because he’s going to the next terminal. I’m way late, and his flight is even ten minutes earlier than mine. Run, Tony, run. Everything seems ok till I see the security line. Whoa what a line! What can I do but hope it goes fast. Finally it’s my turn for the pat down – you know the routine. Off with the shoes, belt, blah blah, basically get half naked. On the way through the conveyer belt x-ray, my cooler gets stopped.
“Do you have any liquids on you?” They ask on the other side.
“No” I reply walking through, holding my pants up ( can I have my belt back please? )
“Wait sir, did or did I not ask you if you had liquids?”
Now I suddenly remember the frozen water bottle in my cooler to keep my lobsters alive. Now I’m worried about missing my flight again, and my lobsters, and my pants. I’m sweating.
“Why are you so nervous?” she asks.
“BECAUSE I AM ABOUT TO MISS MY PLANE!” I say.
“Sorry, we have to open and inspect.” says the Agent.
He opens the cooler and literally says “Holy sh*t! This is a first for me. I am not touching live lobsters. I’ve never seen this before.”
“Well, the same thing is happening in the next terminal.” I say, referring to Jeff and his box of lobsters.
He calls another agent over.
“I am allergic to seafood .” says the other agent.
“Should I do it?” I asked.
“NO! Step back.” and she calls yet another agent.
The clock is ticking.
The recently arrived agent slowly put gloves on, and as he picks the first one he screams “These things are alive!”
He puts the towel back on, tapes the box back, and looks at me. “GET OUT OF HERE.”
I made the flight, and few hours later, the lobsters and Chef Tony were back in New York.
Spiny Lobster, Caribbean Lobster, Rock Lobster, or Langouste, scientific name Palinuridae