Feeling more overwhelmed than a lobster during mini-season

Once again, most locals have survived the annual Lobster Mini Season, or as I like to think of it, the battle of neopreneans versus crustaceans. For two days, strange forms without tails wearing neoprene swoop down into the depths of the lobster’s native lands and attack. Granted, the neopreneans are required to leave women (with eggs) and children behind, but all other crustaceans are fair play, thus aggressively hunted, netted, bagged and boiled.

The lobsters aren’t the only victims with their territories invaded during this two-day Mini-Hell. Most of the locals hastily retreat into a dark hole and come out of hiding only when they can see patches of the actual road between cars once again on the Overseas Highway. Until then, locals have to survive on whatever they have hidden deep in the cupboards. Even food stocked away since the Lobster Mini Season of 2016 is better than dealing with the brutal traffic and the long lines at grocery stores and restaurants. Personally, I’d rather eat a bag of year-old Cheetos than deal with the onslaught of lobster fanatics.

Here’s the thing, paradise is and will always be everyone’s fantasy. For the locals who are fortunate enough to live in paradise year round, the draw to hunt for lobsters is two-fold. One, it’s to get off of U.S. 1 and go anywhere by boat versus dealing with drivers in rental cars. And, two, it’s to master their lobster-catching skills and prove they have THE prime spots already scouted out that no one else knows about. Even though locals are laid back, this is one of those macho things we still can’t shake.

There is a third reason too… feeding the unending list of guests visiting the Keys delicious lobster is another macho thing that’s tough to shake.

But for the tourists and part-timers, during the Lobster Mini Season in the Keys, there’s an additional mysterious lure of what paradise might have been like in the very beginning of time for mankind. What could be more “real” and “authentic” than being on a tropical island and catching your dinner – a lobster dinner to boot – by hand? I know I’ve been sounding like a wanna be psychologist, but I suspect that’s the deeper, sub-conscious appeal during these crazy two days. Of course, I tend to drink a lot during Lobster Mini Season, so disregard anything too deep.

Although we have officially moved to Hawaii, my husband managed to snag this particular week off so we could come back to the Keys. Again, no one needs a doctorate in Psychology to know why he decided to pick this week, of all weeks to take time off from his new job. All I know is he had a blast on the boat with his buddies. Psychology 101 – The Primitive Caveman Logic.

If I’m ripping away at my husband’s psychosis, it’s probably only fair analyze me as well and let’s face it, I might need to actually pay for professional counseling this time. After packing and throwing away so many memories, moving across the Pacific Ocean only to live in a hotel for three weeks, flying back for Lobster Mini Season, etc., I’m basically a basket case. Even more “off” is although the Florida Keys has been our home for over twenty-five years, when we come back I’m now a tourist here living out of a suitcase and partying the entire time I’m in town.

But in my new “home” in Honolulu, I’m still a tourist as well. Nothing is unpacked since I’m still waiting for our actual house to be available on the first of August. I’m eating out everyday, learning new lingo and I’m truly lost all of the time in the car while careening badly through the major city of Honolulu. Even with all of the traffic and chaos here in the Keys during the Lobster Mini Season, it’s nothing like every day life there.

I’ve been forced to make massive adjustments in my thinking. I have learned to calculate in more time to drive anywhere – even down the block to the dry cleaners. Just like the newbies to the Keys, I’ve had to stop myself from turning the wrong way down a one way enough times to seriously question my driving ability. I feel like a tiny 95-year old lady who can barely see over her steering wheel, trying to navigate her giant boat car around a town that only has room for MINI Coopers, at best. And, driving, as horrendous as it is, is actually cake compared to finding a parking spot in Honolulu.

To summarize Dr. Jana’s notes on my own mental stability: for the past three weeks in both Hawaii and in Key Largo, I’m scattering around helplessly, feeling paranoid and without a place to officially hide – er – park or sleep. And, after foolishly laying on the beach for hours, I’m even baked to a bright red. In other words, I feel like a lobster during Lobster Mini Season. Call me crazy, but I’m siding with the poor crustaceans and might have to join forces with my little shelled friends and take on the neopreneans in 2018.

Or… I can just enjoy another strong drink with a lobster dinner and pretend I don’t have any mental issues whatsoever. Again, Psychology 101 – a no-brainer.

Jana Vandelaar has worked as a freelance writer in the Keys with a loving family, fun friends and smelly pups for more than 20 years. Check out her website at for more books available online or ‘Like’ her Facebook page at JanabananaINK for daily smiles about life as she sees and lives it. If you enjoy her articles, Jana has a book titled, “ONLY IN THE KEYS, Snort-Laughing Stories About Life In The Florida Keys.” This is a fun book full of Jana’s most popular articles written for The Reporter since 2008. It’s available at Randy’s Florida Keys Gifts, MM 102.4 or at Hooked On Books, MM 81.9.