Of Oysters and Two-Strokes

The annual Oyster Festival in Urbanna, Va., takes our tiny town — a couple of hundred folks, one stop sign, a dog named Lucky who thinks the middle of the street is his and a town motto (We’re too small to have a town drunk, so all y’all have to pitch in!) — and swells it to over 10,000 people who come to taste the Chesapeake’s tasty offerings from many vendors. As a side benefit, if a guy has just one teaspoon of testosterone left in his body, he understands why jeans manufacturers and Victoria’s Secret make a killing.

One of my clients, Rappahannock River Oysters, grows bazillions of oysters from seeds that look like dust into oysters shipped around the world on a daily basis. The folks there have a restaurant (represented at the festival) that can present more kinds of oysters in more levels of salinity than you’d believe. They make crab cakes that, while large and pretty good, aren’t as good as mine. That’s a fact, Jack. The Nurse will eat oysters if they’re fried to the consistency of a chicken gizzard, spongy and crunchy. That’s a travesty. Oysters should be slurped raw from the shell, swallowing the bivalve’s liquor at the same time. Some people say men develop bragging rights from the way they eat oysters. I say give me half a bushel, a shucking knife and go away.

Oysters are purifiers: They filter the water around them several times a day, contributing to the water quality. I think I understand that neutering the oysters has made them disease resistant. If I were an oyster, I believe I’d take a chance on disease, thank you. However it happens, the combination of science, a change in farming procedures, runoff protection and the boating industry have revived an almost extinct, financially valuable oyster industry. Boating industry? Yup. Two-stroke engines in particular.

Despite a two-stroke’s many advantages, one ecological downside is underwater exhaust discharge. Sure, but four-strokes feature that, too! Ahhh… The rub, as they say, is that a two-stroke’s discharge contains oil, which doesn’t freely and quickly dissipate the way the other exhaust components do, rather sinking through the water where oysters are performing their purification process. From here on, I guarantee you’ll always have a little man inside your brain pan saying, “That oyster tasted a bit like TC-W3, didn’t it?”

I know they cost more initially (One client called his a “five-stroke,” the fifth stroke being his!), but fourstrokes and design evolutions such as Bombardier’s E-TEC have brought ecological responsibility to the waterways. Thanks, folks. Ya done good.

So now that I’ve told you all I know about oysters, women’s clothing and exhaust, I’m heading out to the shop to finish working on my friend’s 1955 walk-behind Gravely tractor. The first blast of exhaust from that monstrosity contains enough carbon monoxide to bring Gotham and Superman to their knees! OK, some four-strokes might be an exception to my rule. I’ll leave the doors open. Check on me occasionally, will you? Thanks.

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