Guest post: The Lobster Special

Originally a comment by Your Name’s not Bruce? on Yes but if you switch the labels that changes everything.

The scene, an upscale RESTAURANT. ALAINA HYPE LEVITATE is shown to her seat. A WAITER fills her water glass and offers AHL a menu.

AHL: That’s okay, I know what I’m ordering. I’ll have the lobster special and a glass of the house white, please.

W: An excellent choice! Coming right up.

A few moments later, the WAITER returns with a glass of milk, and what looks very much like a plate of mashed potatoes.

W. Here you go, the special with house white.

AHL. Where’s the lobster?

W. It’s right there on the plate.

AHL. That looks very much like a plate of mashed potatoes.

W. This is what you ordered, the “Lobster Special.”

AHL. But that isn’t a lobster. I’ve had lobster before, and unless it’s buried under the potatoes, there is no lobster on this plate. (Digging with fork). Nope, nada, zilch. This is NOT lobster.

W. I assure you it is. It’s our speciality; nobody else prepares them quite the way we do.

AHL. Well I’m sure that everyone else is using actual lobster.

W. Well, I don’t know about the recipes used in other establishments, but ours is renowned for its bold, transgressive presentation. Cruelty free, too.

AHL. Only if you ignore the disappointment of those expecting, you know, LOBSTER!

W. (In full flight now) Our chef has gone beyond the mere shape and appearance of “lobster.”.Some people are so hung up on extraneous, picayune details-

AHL. The complete absence of lobster is not a DETAIL when you’ve ordered “lobster.”

W. -which channels their expectations and narrows the realm of possibility-


W. Some people figure that lobster can only be one way. They’re stereoyping. Others are put off by the “big bug on a plate ” look . They’re lobster-phobic. Our Chef goes beyond both those who have particular expectations and those who are fearful of that expectation.

AHL. Your so-called “lobster ” was dug out of the ground and probably hasn’t even seen so much as a photograph of an ocean.

W. Oh, so you’re a biological determinist!


Out from the kitchen comes the CHEF.

C. Is there a problem?

AHL. (Pointing to the plate) THIS? THIS IS NOT LOBSTER!

C Oh, but it is. It came out of a bin. The label on the bin says “Lobster.” So, this is lobster.

AHL. Lobsters don’t come in bins.

W. Ours do.

AHL. SHUT UP! (WAITER withdraws to kitchen, muttering).

C. Great big bin. Big Label. Big red letters. L-O-B-S-T-E-R.

AHL. (Trying to speak calmly, but it’s clearly a struggle) I don’t care how big the bin is. I don’t care how big the label, or the size and colour of its lettering. I don’t care what the label says, the label on the bin doesn’t change what’s in the bin!

C. Nothing’s changed, it’s always been lobster. It’s on the bin. Big label.

Everyone likes our lobster. It’s won awards!

AHL. (Pointing at plate) This is potato. P-O-T-A-T-O. Mashed potato. Not lobster, L-O-B-S-T-E-R. It doesn’t matter if you carve them into the shape of a lobster, or put them into a great big bin with a great big label, or call them by another name. They will ALWAYS be POTATOS. They will NEVER be LOBSTERS.

C. Okay, for the sake of argument, let’s call it “mock lobster.” Better than lobster really, because it’s vegan.

AHL. You can call it bloody “mock alligator,” or “mock bicycle” or “mock otter” or bloody “mock POLAND,” but it’s still mashed POTATO!

C. You’d be surprised at how many genes are common between potatos, lobsters, and otters. To a visitor from another planet, they’d all be close cousins.

AHL. I’M not from another planet and I can distinctly tell the differences between all those things, and I’m not seeing a lot of lobster in the general vicinity. There’s a lot less lobster than I was led to believe I was going to be encountering. I see no crustaceans of any kind whatsoever on this plate or on this table.

C. You didn’t read the menu, did you.

AHL. I knew I wanted lobster. It’s on the sign outside.

W. (coming back from the kitchen with LOBSTER bin, brandishing a scoop of what looks very much like mashed potatos). On the bin, too.

AHL. SHUT UP! (turning to CHEF) Lobster is lobster!

C. Well, obviously your concept of “lobster” is really restricting and narrow, when it’s really a broad spectrum. Quite fluid, really. Delicious, too. Go ahead, have a bite!

AHL. You can’t just redefine “lobster.” A lobster is a particular creature. How the HELL can it be a “fluid spectrum?”

C. How do you know it isn’t? You’d never seen a vegan mock lobster until today, had you? Our lobster is not confined to your confining label. It yearns to be FREE, to be what it’s always wanted and felt itself to be!

AHL. Well it’s all mock and no lobster.

C Don’t forget the vegan part.

AHL. A lobster is an animal and can’t be VEGAN!

C. But there’s some right in front of you on your plate! You’re just too attached to your narrow dictionary definition “lobsterism” to admit it!

AHL. AAAARRRGH! I’ve HAD ENOUGH. I’m LEAVING. (AHL stomps out, muttering.)

W. (indicating plate of mock vegan lobster) Did you want a doggy bag?

W. (Turning to CHEF) You know at this rate, we’re never going to use up those potatoes.

C. Yeah, but isn’t this fun?

W. Sure! It’s a blast! It doesn’t help generate repeat customers, though. (Drinking from the glass of milk, then holding it up to the light, admiringly) Pity. She didn’t even get to the “house white.”

C Ha! Well at least it is actually white. (motions to the kitchen) C’mon It’s almost close. We’d better clean up.

WAITER and CHEF go back into the kitchen. The LOBSTER bin, which had been set down on the now vacated table, shudders and shakes as a huge LOBSTER starts to climb out of it…

Image result for potato lobster

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