Although shucking oysters is considered by some a culinary leisure activity, it is in fact very serious business. For those who do not have access to the customary accoutrements of shucking oysters, here is a variation particularly suited to many noders.

First, you must insure that the month in which you will be shucking contains the letter "R". Aaarrrgggust may or may not count. Next, you should procure one bushel bag or croaker sack full of Apalachicola oysters, double washed and tossed with at least 10 pounds of finely crushed ice.

Then you must acquire one bottle (any size) of Tabasco Sauce, and one box of Nabisco Premium Saltine Crackers. Warning: It is a violation of Federal Law to substitute any other crackers in this procedure, particularly low-sodium or low-fat sawdust wafers. Even being in possession of stale Saltines can result in fines, imprisonment, or keelhauling.

At this point, some form of beer is required. You may drink it or pour it on yourself or an assistant. Be sure to save some for later, as you will need it for internal and external antiseptic purposes.

Finally, procure one standard-size pocket protector and one slide rule. It is suggested, though not imperative, that you remove any pens or pencils from the pocket protector. Place the pocket protector in the palm of whichever hand you won't be needing for a few days or weeks and then select an oyster. Grasp the oyster firmly with the pocket protector with the pointy end of said oyster facing you. With your other hand, take a final sip of beer and then grasp the slide rule.

Using the slide rule as a lever, gently work the sharp end into the crack in the end of the oyster using a twisting motion. DO NOT STAB THE OYSTER !!! Go easy and TWIST. Stabbing and jabbing and the like will only result in the still-living oyster maliciously and suddenly releasing its shell, causing you to run the slide rule through the pocket protector and your hand. NOTE: The standard pocket protector is not designed to protect anything other than pockets. Its only use in this application is to remove some of the grit on the slide rule before it inevitably passes through your palm.

As a novice you will, of course, get drunk and/or pissed off and run the slide rule through your hand anyway. At this time, use the beer you reserved earlier to cleanse the wound. If it hurts, put a couple of shots of Tabasco in the wound, and then you will realize that you only THOUGHT it hurt. The Saltines are used as makeshift sterile bandages. You may at this point drink the rest of the beer to kill the pain. The beer is also useful for killing the Vibrio bacteria found inside the oyster, on the outside chance that you actually got one open.

Happy shucking!

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