Subject: Oysters
as related by Lee Gold

This is another retold story. I heard it in back in 1968 or 1969, when Norman Spinrad and Larry Niven both regularly attended LASFS meetings (and the Clubhouse was at the Hill, a slan shack on South St. Andrew St.).



Spinrad arrived one night to tell Larry his story of having attended one of those writers' conferences. One evening, a number of them had gone out for dinner at a restaurant that had some pretensions at being better than a mere greasy spoon place.
Most of them ordered hamburgers. One ordered prime rib. Keith Laumer studied the menu awhile and then said, "I'd like to have the seafood platter. There's just one thing. I don't want any oysters."
"Sir," said the wiatress, "oysters are not in season."
"Yes," said Laumer, "but I don't want any."
"Sir," said the waitress, "there are NO oysters in the restaurant."
"Good," said Laumer, "but please note that I don't want any anyway."
She took the order and disappeared. Various people got served. All but Laumer. Most of them were nearly done with their meals when the waitress came back with the seafood platter and put it down in front of him.
He studied it suspiciously, then stabbed down his fork and held up a piece of seafood -- to stare at it even more suspiciously. He held the fork over to Harlan.
"What do you think this is?" he asked.
"Well, Keith, it's hard to be sure, but it does look a lot like an oyster."
He brought back the fork, stared at it a moment more, then held it out to Spinrad who gave the same verdict.
"WAITRESS!" cried Laumer. "THIS IS AN OYSTER!"
She came running to the table.
"THIS IS AN OYSTER!" he cried.
"Sir," she said, "oysters aren't in season."
"*THIS* is an oyster!"
"Sir, there are *no* oysters in the restaurant."
"THIS is an OYSTER!"
"Well, sir, if you don't want it," she said, "then I'll gladly take it away." She picked up his bread and butter dish and held it out to him -- and he took the oyster off the fork and placed it in her *other* hand, on her naked palm. And she reacted instinctively to the cold and slimy thing -- and threw it -- straight into the face of the writer who'd ordered the prime rib. Who jumped up, said, "I've never been so insulted in my life!" and stalked out of the restaurant -- without paying.
Followed by Laumer.
Leaving Spinrad and Ellison to explain to the restaurant that they wanted separate checks and were NOT resonsible for paying for the seafood platter or the prime rib.


Lee notes: I've met Laumer several times but have never dared ask him if this --
or some version of it -- ever really happened.