Oysters on the Half-shell, a Baltimore Rite of Passage

Jacob and I went out on foot late this morning to run a few errands around the neighborhood—Enoch Pratt Library, the little Chinese grocery store next to Zhongshan on Park Avenue, and JA Regan’s Meats in Lexington Market to get a couple of monumental steaks.

Since it was nearly lunchtime, we headed to Faidley’s Seafood before we left the market.

Jacob doesn’t always join me at the oyster bar. He’s not a big fan of raw seafood. He did join me today, though. Walking around, it had been hot, sweaty, and humid on the street. We had a couple of beers while the shucker shucked. The oysters, as they typically are at Faidley’s, were icy cold, super-fat, and delicious.

A 30-something father came into Faidley’s with his pre-teen, blonde-haired son. They came up to the oyster bar, found a place next to us, and the father ordered a dozen prime. He watched my dozen arrive and changed his order to a half-dozen—he said, “Wow, I didn’t know they’d be that big.”

While I was busy fussing with my oysters, the horseradish, the lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, and stuff, the father began talking up the oyster tradition with his son.

Having grown up in the land-locked Midwest, I’d never witnessed a father-son oyster talk; I listened. And I heard a loving, endearing, and instructive conversation. It made my oysters taste all that much sweeter.

When their plate arrived, the father garnished and ate one and then asked his son if he’d like to try one. He didn’t push his son. The young one said, “Show me how to do it.” The father put on a perfect oyster-eating performance as he slurped his second off the shell.

The little guy gulped the fat prime off of the end of his father’s plastic fork. He bit down and made a face. You know the face. That very first oyster face.

He didn’t like it so much. But, he ate it.

A few of the locals were watching and one lady cheered when the son swallowed. She gave a thumb’s up and said, “You’re the MAN.” The rest of the crowd applauded. The son was proud, the father was proud, and I was proud to have seen such a wonderful moment. I was proud to have seen Baltimore at its best.

By Stephen Brockelman

As a Sr. Writer at T. Rowe Price, I work with a group of the best copywriters around. We belong to the broader creative team within Enterprise Creative, a part of Corporate Marketing Services. _____________________________________________ A long and winding road: My path to T. Rowe Price was more twisted than Fidelity’s green line. With scholarship in hand, I left Kansas at 18 to study theatre in New York. When my soap opera paychecks stopped coming from CBS and started coming from the show’s sponsor, Proctor & Gamble, I discovered the power of advertising and switched careers. Over the years I’ve owned an ad agency in San Francisco; worked for Norman Lear on All in the Family, Good Times, Sanford and Son, and the rest of his hit shows; and as a member of Directors Guild of America, I directed Desi Arnaz in his last television appearance— we remained friends until his death. In 1988 I began freelancing full time didn’t look back. In January 2012 my rep at Boss Group called and said, “I know you don’t want to commute and writing for the financial industry isn’t high on your wish list, but I have a gig with T. Rowe Price in Owings Mills…” I was a contractor for eight months, drank the corporate Kool-Aid, became a TRP associate that August, and today I find myself smiling more often than not.

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