T he best kinds of stories about your kids are those that you wouldn’t remember unless you wrote them down. In 1993 Adam was 13 and we had just given him permission to go places on his own.

The summer season began when the squid started to bite. I knew it had come when Adam’s clothing got all mucked up with ink and slime. His hands would be stained black. This began happening every day.

I began to think there is little else that is so ugly. I do know that squid is good bait and some people like to eat it . . . it’s still ugly. I’m not cooking it unless it is pristine in cleanliness, cut up and ready to go in the pot.

Adam would invite us to join him in the evenings to watch his prowess with a squid jig. The town dock was full of people standing shoulder to shoulder. Steve would join in and the squid bucket would fill up fast. Once back at home all would be proportioned into storage bags and put into the freezer. I only considered it to be bait, not food. There was no way I would cook the likes of this bagged stuff. I had eaten it in restaurants in rings fried crisp and served with a spicy peanut sauce. In the buckets it was slimy to the touch and squirted out indelible awful black ink. Yuck.

One afternoon when Adam came home from the town dock where he had been hanging out for most of the day, he told us the biggest story about the kids catching squid one after another when an older gent came along to watch. Eventually the fellow asked one of the kids, “You wanto to make five bucks?”

“Sure! How?” asked one of Adam’s friends.

“Take a bite out of the next squid you catch,” said the gent.

I am listening but by this time I know I am making faces and feel like I just need to make loud gurgling noises of disgust. I am not ready for what’s next.

“He didn’t,” I say.

“He did . . . bit the head right clear off!”

Now, being the protective, concerned parent that I am, I asked, “Adam, would you do that for five bucks?”

“Of course,” he says. Now I can feel that my body language, my face especially, is probably descriptive enough to match the wave of nausea moving through my insides. Unfortunately, I can just picture him . . . peer pressure at work indeed.

“I wouldn’t do that for a hundred dollars,” I tell him. With a little careless shrug, he replies, “But Mom, you’ve already got money!”


Kathleen Rose lives in Edgartown and is a member of the Howes House writer’s group in West Tisbury.