Unfortunately we forgot to take a photo of the real bite so this was re-enacted after the crab was half-cooked. You can see the small red puncture mark next to the tip of claw. My finger throbbed for hours after that.
I was about 7 or 8 years old. My mom had left a basin of cloudy rice water and I didn't know that a crab had strayed into the water. My cries brought the neighbors and someone said the crab will never let go unless the thunder clapped. Someone finally took a cleaver and whacked at the poor crab, which struggled and dug into my finger with all its remaining strength. That pain is forever imprinted in my memory. For many years, there was a fine white scar along the side of my finger. The scar has since disappeared and I can't even remember which finger it was.
That was a story my family has heard over and over and I never thought I would ever let myself be clawed by a crab again. Moments after telling my helper Vero that story, as we pulled off the plastic strings that tied each crab that we had already stabbed, I suddenly felt intense pain and looked at disbelief at the sight: my finger in the big claw of a crab, again! It was the memory of the previous experience that panicked me more than what was happening, because I never forgot the unbearable pain and the hopeless situation of getting the pincher off without enduring more pain as the crab tried to defend itself.
We were having some close friends and my kids' cell leaders over for a barbie last night and the last item to go on the grill was crabs. We could've thrown them onto the grill and closed the hood but that was deemed cruel so we finally stabbed the crabs through the soft part of their middle but there were raffia strings to be removed. I underestimated the tenacity of the last 3 dying crabs in the sink as I reached in to remove the strings.
So we had this situation where I was on my knees at the sink screaming with pain, and someone approached with a knife, another with a chopstick, and each time they came close, I tensed and the crab got terrified and dug deeper into my finger making me scream and tremble with pain which in turn made the crab dig even deeper. I felt blood rush to my face as I tried hard to keep still since any movement would panic my attacker.
One thing I love about my Hub is his control of situations. We've been in jungle situations (haha, private joke), passport expired flight about to take off situation, lost dog found dog but the person whose house dog ran into wouldn't give him back to us situation, children lost in mall situations and so on but each time Hub rose to the occasion and handled everything smoothly. I always tell my girl to get a thinking man like her father and for the boys to be like their father.
I shouted away those who came to help because the more the crab was threatened, the more he tightened his grip. I shouted for someone to boil water, hoping that we can slowly fill the sink with hot water so that the crab will faint or something. The frog in the increasingly warm water story came to mind. I was ready to wait all night, I just didn't want to have my finger dug deeper by a desperate crab in its final moments. Then Yi suggested pliers (thinking girl!) and Hub got a pair of small pliers, small enough to put in between the claw. Before I could stop him, Hero had swiftly plunged the pliers in between the claw and prised it open and freed my finger.
Now that I am a veteran at crab bites, I can offer some advice on the matter. Of course, be careful when handling crabs even if they look like they are dead. Maybe the best way to still them is like how you handle lobsters--give them a hot bath (correction: ice bath). And if you ever get floored by a crab's claw, yield, do not fight. I suppose that's stupid advice because you'll learn soon enough not to move or startle the crab. The crab settles down after a while but each time you tense up or move, he'll grip harder. For bystanders, it looks like an easy situation but I can tell you if you are the one whose finger is bitten, it is pretty agonizing. I was telling friends that I was lucky that the crab last night had a large claw and the pain wasn't as intense as the other time because the larger claw had a blunt end while smaller, younger crabs have very sharp claws that can cut really deep into the flesh. But I later realized that the crab had been stabbed and wounded and it was weakened. If it wasn't, it could've dug through my finger because, like I said, it was a survival fight for the crab.
I never looked the poor crab in its papaya-seed-like eyes. I was fighting for my finger but the crab was fighting for its life.
My final advice? Don't handle crabs until you know they are really dead because if you don't have a Hero, you may have to wait until the thunder roars.
My mom, who doesn't remember a lot of things, said, "What, again??"
p.s.: CL, R, W, P and K, if you are reading this, you were right. There's never a dull moment in my house.