They carried the fruit of the sea.
They barbecued it.
They boiled it.
They broiled it.
They baked it.
They sautéed it.
It came kabobed.
It came creole.
It came gumbo.
They pan fried it.
They deep fried it.
They stir-fried it.
It came flavored.
They made soup.
They made stew.
They made salad.
They made it with potatoes.
They made burgers.
They made sandwiches.
That . . . that’s about it . . .
They could have dipped it in chocolate . . .
. . . dipped in life . . . like . . .
A box of chocolates . . .
. . . but they carried a distaste for chocolate covered




Inspired by:

“The Things They Carried vs Forrest Gump”:



6 Responses to Shrimp

  1. Ok, I am trying to post a “carefully crafted response” but I’m not sure if we were supposed to do that for our classmates or the students. Here it goes:

    “They carried the fruit of the sea” – I like the connection you make to other Vietnam era commentary, especially a wonderful movie such as Forrest Gump.
    Owning a shrimp company was a dream that a soldier in Forrest Gump carried, which is just as valid as any of the ones expressed by Tim O’Brien’s company. Bubba had a vision of what he wanted to do after he got out of the military. This at least shows hope in the possibility of coming back to America alive. I like thinking about the more optimistic side of a soldier’s life. In The Things They Carried many of the soldiers were so confused and hurt with their present that they did not even dare to dream about the future. Even the character Tim O’Brien felt that his education was being wasted and that he may never be able to do anything with his degree.
    Why did the soldiers carry a dislike for chocolate covered shrimp? If a box of chocolates is like life, does this mean that they were jaded with life? Were they just too afraid to try more of life’s surprises? If so, I can’t say I blame them. If there is one place where I WANT to know what I’m going to get, that place is definitely a war zone!
    I wonder if there is a specific piece of war equipment that we can make appear as versatile as Bubba’s shrimp?

    • “I wonder if there is a specific piece of war equipment that we can make appear as versatile as Bubba’s shrimp?”

      The Bandana – one of the most high-tech military devices ever . . . ever:
      30 uses for a bandana:

      1. Signal (also see signal mirror)
      2. Neck Gaiter for cold weather
      3. Tourniquet (But for Snake Bites use a Sawyer Extractor)
      4. Pot Holder
      5. Collecting Wild Edibles
      6. Sun block for neck
      7. Sling (first-aid – also see medical kits for you BOB)
      8. Sling (as in David and Goliath)
      9. Sling (for a staff)
      10. Cordage (strips or as is)
      11. Washcloth/Towel (Bathe out of a Collapsible Bucket)
      12. Sweatband
      13. Waist pack/pouch
      14. Hobo Pack
      15. Padding a hotspot
      16. Cleaning Patches for Firearm
      17. Bullet Patches for Muzzleloader
      18. Gun Wipe Cloth (with oil)
      19. Toilet Paper
      20. Mark a Trail
      21. Dish Rag
      22. Napkin
      23. Eye patch
      24. Pre-water Filter (like Coffee Filters)
      25. Clean Glasses and other lens
      26. Ear Muffs
      27. Bind a stone and toss a line over a limb
      28. Dust Mask (in Urban Survival)
      29. Wet and wear for Hot Weather
      30. Sneezing

      • 2012.5.7

        (A poem inspired by “Shrimp”: ; “The Things They Carried vs Forrest Gump”: ; and “30 Uses for a Bandana”:

        They carried the sign of the free.
        They signaled with it.
        They warmed with it.
        They tourniqueted it.

        They held pots with it.
        They collected edibles with it.
        They blocked the sun with it.

        They slung it as first aid.
        They slung it as David deathed Goliath.
        They swung it at staff’s end.

        They moved cordage with it.
        They made washcloths of it.
        They made sweatbands of it.

        It was a hobo pack.
        It was hotspot padding.
        It cleaned firearms.
        It oiled them.
        It wiped them.

        They marked trails with it.
        They made dishrags of it.

        It was a napkin.
        It was an eye patch.

        It was a prewater filter on coffee coated mornings.
        It cleaned spex, goggles, glasses, field glasses, binoculars, face shields, wind shields, hoods, grills, and fenders.

        They made earmuffs of it.
        They bound stones and tossed lines through the arbor.
        They made dust masks of it to filter breath or conceal identity.
        They wet it and wore it in hot weather.

        They sneezed into it.
        They received a silent “Bless You” or “Gesundheit” or “Salud” or other expressions for giving purpose to a square of cloth as it shielded against superstition.

        That . . . that’s about it . . .

        They could have worn it nood . . .
        . . . in the nood . . . like . . .
        Loincloths . . .
        . . . but they carried a comfort in noodity and a needless

    • As for why the soldiers disliked chocolate covered shrimp, as O’Brien explained, “In Vietnam, too, we had ways of making the dead seem not quite so dead. Shaking hands, that was one way. By slighting death, by acting, we pretended it was not the terrible thing it was. By our language, which was both hard and wistful, we transformed the bodies into piles of waste. Thus, when someone got killed, as Curt Lemon did, his body was not really a body, but rather one small bit of waste in the midst of a much wider wastage. I learned that words make a difference. It’s easier to cope with a kicked bucket than a corpse; if it isn’t human, it doesn’t matter much if it’s dead. And so a VC nurse, fried by napalm, was a crispy critter. A Vietnamese baby, which lay nearby, was a roasted peanut. ‘Just a crunchie munchie,’ Rat Kiley said as he stepped over the body.” (231)

      Shrimp . . . “prepared” in various ways . . . may represent the ways in which the enemies, the Vietnamese, were put to death.
      They “carried” “the fruit of the sea.”
      They assisted the population into the “frying pan.”
      When eating a box of chocolates, chocolate covered shrimp is not usually a common discovery.
      Chocolate covered shrimp are outside of the typical “box” of chocolates.
      The soldiers hold prejudice perhaps without ever having had the experience.
      Representative of the war, young men were drafted into the military (the box of chocolates), to fight against those they may have had little understanding of (the Vietnamese).
      They carried a distaste for chocolate covered shrimp because they had yet to acquire that taste.
      A distaste represents a conflict of U.S. interests . . . “shimps” by industrialized society standards.
      Every way they consumed “shrimp” represents every toppled government, every society reborn from the ashes of war.
      “Shrimps” refers to nations who are non-globally economic powerhouses.
      “Shrimp” are intended to represent the underdogs, and “chocolate covered” represents the state of being externally “sweetened,” or funded.
      The word “shrimp” becomes a code word for “adversary,” and there are many ways to consume shrimp.

  2. That last stanza made me think. Shrimp was what they enjoyed; it was an escape from reality, and a cash cow. The shrimping boat represented a new beginning for Gump and Lt. Dan. When you say that “they carried a distaste for chocolate covered Shrimp”, it could almost mean that they did not want to tarnish their new joy with a taste of life. Like a box of chocolates, sometimes the taste can be bitter, or distasteful and stale. To them, shrimping was their way or writing out the war as O’Brien did. Or, maybe I’m reading too much into it.

    • “Box”:
      Mama’s wisdom may be flawed in its insistence that life is like a “box.” No matter what’s inside the “box,” it’s a box and therefore limitations are applied.
      If life is like a “box” of chocolates, one may find they are contained. The “box” may be expected to be comprised of sweets. If one makes a choice in search of sweets only to find a chocolate covered shrimp, the surprise may be unexpected to say the least.
      A distaste, or opposition, for “chocolate covered” “shrimp” may entail the “enemy” entrenched in subjugation such as, for example, Vietnamese peasant farmers being labeled as enemies of the U. S. Government.
      They may have enjoyed shrimp and shrimping, but this may not have necessarily been their ultimate bliss.
      If shrimping may be considered war, the war may be an “escape” from reality, and war profiteering supplies cash cow milk.
      For many of the soldiers, “new joy” may refer to sudden adulthood and being drafted into the military to defend against the Communist “shrimps.”
      The “distaste” may refer to their perception of the enemy, the war, their participation in the war, etc.

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