PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

Van Pat's Cockle

In the mind of the average stable genius, mollusks consist of clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops, but you’re not an average genius, and word is you’re not even stable, so you don’t know that you didn’t know for the longest time that most people don’t know that they weren’t aware that in the greatest country in the free world there are several billion species of bivavles.

And more in the greatest country in the enslaved world.

I’m exaggerating. There are only 20,000 bivavle species in the whole universe, give or take, according to the fake encyclopedia media (so who really knows?). And most of them are concentrated here in southwest Florida, from what I can tell from walking the beach on Marco Island.

So now you now: I’m vacationing in warm and sunny gun country. While here, I’ve been feeling out my family’s interest in visiting an alligator farm, where the kids can watch their dad wrestle an animal determined to pull him into the water and drown him. But what a rush it is for dad, I’m told: the primal battle; the prehistoric nature of the animal that has sunk its teeth into your abdomen; the feeling of desperation as you realize that the ‘gator has squeezed the air out of you and has probably already won the battle.

Once rescued from certain death by the 7th-generation swamp dweller running the farm, I challenge the kids to memorize the shells we’ll be encountering. They totally ignore me at first, assuming I’m performing my usual leg-pulling nonsense, until I jump up, all excited. “Make a chart,” I say. They look up from their devices just long enough to scowl. I explain: “You can note the shells you collect, the dates and times and where you found them. You can connect with other children your age doing the very same thing! Imagine how jealous your friends back home will be to know that you’re making charts and filling in data, while they’re spending endless hours staring at their boring devices. Heh, heh.”

They’ve stopped listening. They care as much about finding a Scotch Bonnet on their morning walk as they do about discovering Van Hyning’s Cockle in the bottom of a bucket.

Slinking off to eat some conch fritters and gator-tail while cleaning out my AR-15.

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