Clams, while delicious, are also funny, in much the way toads remain humorous. Toads are deadpan. There are few jokes about crows, ticks or muskrats. Bears, always good for a laugh. Generations of children stay entertained at the thought of chickens and their decisions about motorways, as well as the American domestic turkey, stupid enough to drown on its back in the rain. It keeps its mouth open.
“I have lots of hair. Some of it on my head. Soon comes the Reign of Clams! This magic mollusk, God's Tribune of the Sea is venerated like that chick who came out of the water at Cyprus. She was a sight, seeing!" – noted shellfisherman.
Robin, Batman’s sidekick, came close to death being consumed by a giant clam. By the end, only the Boy Wonder’s kicking, green-clad foot was left outside the voracious gullet of the resolute mollusk. Why Robin’s footwear suggests he is a Merry Man remains unknown, but the Caped Crusader saved his young ward by means of the Bat Clam Repellent he had thoughtfully included in his Utility Belt that morning. Robin was pulled free covered in green slime, but Robin was safe. In real life giant clams do not inhale people, but you will have to take that up with Robin as well as numerous drownees in old comic books. So many treasure hunts end with one foot caught.
Johnny Hart’s long-running comic strip B.C features clams with wry takes on human limitations. These mysterious animals walk on two tiny, birdlike legs. When this heretofore unknown attribute of clams is noted, inevitably all clams exit, yelling without fail, “Clams got Legs!” in English. B.C. being set in prehistoric times, we continue to check the fossil record for evidence of this vocal locomotive animal.
Clams have been used as currency since time forgot. “I’ll give you a hundred clams, “ one might hear for a defective child’s bicycle. This is puzzling, clams being perishable. Yet the myriad models of children and of bikes in any given suburb is testimony to American clams taken and given in trade.
Another clam currency is wampum, made from the shells of hard-shelled clams. Pieces of shell are polished to a fine sheen. Wampum is worn as Native American jewelry, particularly wampum made by the Wampanoags. The success of wampum as a currency is obvious in the smiles of Native Americans pocketing U.S. dollars each summer, often at a very favorable rate of exchange.
The national comic strip Curtis told a sad tale of a clam. A genius inhabitant of Flyspeck Island invented a cure for every form of cancer. Before he could relay the information, he woke up transformed to a giant ambisexual bivalve. The natives mourned the loss to science and human well-being, gathering together cocktail forks, sauce and drawn butter.
Clamming itself is a ridiculous activity. True, there is a certain reserved dignity in the raking of hard-shelled clams by use of long-handled equipment. Men stoop only slightly, clad in waiters and the quiet grandeur of their historic, oft-painted profession. There is no dignity at all, in digging for steamers, they are smart enough to dig deeper should they feel your touch and you are going to wind up with your rear end up in the air groping desperately, much like a golden retriever puppy or an old man retrieving his keys. To date, no clam digger has been President although the popularity of clam diggers as a form of short pants worn on children is still manifest in certain regions of Southern California.
In the words of the famous t-shirt: “I’d rather be clamming.” Or if you prefer: Eat Clams, Live Longer, Eat Oysters, Love Longer, Eat Mussels, Last Longer.” The fact no one has any idea what that means has not hurt sales.|