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THE CRABS

    Once all the crabs signed a contract of amorous intent.
    The crabs set great store in having written the contract themselves. It stipulated the terms and conditions under which they agreed to enter into caring and sharing relationships with one another, abrogating all covenants and verbal agreements hitherto in effect.
    The document was long, with many clauses and provisos. It was bound to be long, for the crabs were concerned to have their emotions legally spelled out before they entered into any and all romantic engagements. Nothing should be left in doubt regarding love, and no contingencies should be left undefined.
    The main clause in the contract enjoined the signatories from ever moving in too direct or forward a manner in their loving and caring relationship. Such moves were considered evidence of egocentric willfulness and insensitivity to the cosignatory’s self-regard.  Only less direct or less forward advances were permitted, and these must be negotiated with the party in question a minimum of twenty-four (24) hours in advance. 
    In keeping with the spirit of this covenant, every crab went to great lengths to avoid expressions designated as “problematic,” pledging to avoid, for example, unless specifically requested, use of the I-word (as in the expression “I love you”), which could be construed as both overly self-referential and potentially manipulative. Instead, all crabs swore to base their emotional commitment on the following:
We, hereafter known as “significant and/or designated others,” do solemnly attest to the fact that we, being of sound mind and body and governed by the certified testaments of mutual respect herein signed and witnessed, are freely and without reservation moving with nonforward purpose into a fully nurturing relationship that recognizes both parties to this agreement as mature and caring crabs.
    The word “you” (as in the expression “Do you love me?”) might have suffered the same prohibition that “I” did, since it too had the appearance of being unacceptably direct. However, “you” retained its legitimacy because all parties agreed that the question “Do you love me?” was indispensable in determining whether one’s “significant and/or designated other” possessed the proper degree of respect for oneself as a “significant and/or designated other” to merit the continuation of a legally binding relationship as crabs. 
    A contract so comprehensive in its scope succeeded in eliminating all but a few cases of unregulated affection. In those rare cases, either party had simply to produce the document and declare, “I should’ve known you weren’t to be trusted!” The rest was a mere formality.
    And thus it is that to this day crabs move sideways or even backwards over the sand. They’re convinced it’s the only way to find true love.