Crawdad eating awards

I forgot to tell you about the big crawdad dinner at Toledo Bend. (I think you’re supposed to call them crayfish, but in my neighborhood, we call them crawdads. I’m going with that.) It was put on by Power-Pole as an appreciation event for the Elite anglers. And believe me, we did appreciate it. Thank you, Power-Pole!

Of course, the main thing on the menu was crawdads — lots and lots of crawdads. I confess I’m not a big fan, but I am respectful of my sponsors and my fellow competitors so I attended. I walked around with a couple of them on my plate pretending to eat them while I socialized with everyone.

It’s amazing what you see when you do that. Two anglers stood out from the crowd — no small thing in that group — Shaw Grigsby and Chris Lane. Each displayed a unique, big-league skill set.

We’ll talk about Shaw first. As you know, he’s skinny as a rail, as polite as you can get, never stops smiling and never stops talking. His crawdad eating style incorporates all of those traits. He consumes them like crazy, but you’d never know it by watching him. Shaw’s an endgame kind of guy.

He walks around with his plate full, but you never see him eating. It’s much like watching a praying mantis stalk his prey — gangly moves but with a deadly purpose. If you look away for a moment, the first thing you notice when you look back is an empty plate.

All the while, he’s smiling, talking and moving his arms and elbows like a robot. The man never stops.

On the other hand, watch Chris Lane, and you’ll see something very different. I love him to death, but style isn’t his thing. He's more like sustained devouring, unbridled and never satisfied. Chris can inhale several at a time. He’ll hold a half-dozen between his fingers and then suck the meat and guts out in the blink of your eye.

Watching him is like watching Godzilla loose in a petting zoo. It’s raw, determined, passionate and beautiful in its singlemindedness of purpose. Chris Lane’s a man. There’s no other way to put it. I have no idea how many he ate. Neither does he.

So, if this becomes a yearly thing — and we all hope it does — these are my suggestions for the First Annual Power-Pole Crawdad Eating Awards:

Style: Shaw Grigsby (Awarded to the man or woman who can eat the most without looking like they’re eating at all and do it with style and grace while talking to everyone.)

Ravenous: Chris Lane (Nothing fancy here. This is a numbers-only award.)

Milksop: Charlie Hartley (Anyone — most likely a Yankee — who can walk around all night with one on their plate and make people think they’re eating the darn things.)