A clam that is open might appear to be smiling if it is held at the proper angle, but why would a brainless and limbless bivalve mollusk be discernibly jocular or overwhelmingly joyous? When you feel joyful and you are contented, you might be having a whale of a time, or be tickled pink, on cloud nine, in seventh heaven, over the moon, or on top of the world. Most clams live and reproduce in shallow ocean waters. At low tide (when the ocean recedes furthest from the shore), clams are exposed and that is when humans and other predators are able to snatch them up. Thus, clams are safest at high tide, and therefore that is when they are the most happy. This idiom is actually the shortened version of “happy as a clam in the mud at high tide”, and it is used to describe feelings of euphoria.
Clams have no right being happy, as they are mostly stagnant burring themselves in the mud, they have less mobility than almost any other living creature and actually some coma patients exhibit greater levels of activity. They live in an environment surrounded by jagged rocks and hungry sea creatures. Fish, shorebirds, seals, starfish and even humans would all love to make a meal out of them. At a moment’s notice, a clam can be whisked away from its loved ones and be pulverized into a chowder, or made into a mermaid’s bra. Clams don’t fight back when they are captured, they don’t react to pain because they lack a brain, they take no interest in their appearance and they don’t interact, play or communicate with other clams. Clams seem to have zero interest in living, so we might as well eat them.
Happiness or pleasure is most often derived from engaging in some activity, or a being in a satisfying relationship, or achieving a significant accomplishment that gives life some meaning. Essentially, clams sit around in mud eating small plants and fecal matter all day. They are also parthenogenetic or asexually self-reproducing, so they don’t get to enjoy sexual relationships. The only conceivable argument that one could possibly make for a clam being content, would be its total and utter lack of awareness, as ignorance is said to be bliss. Contrary to popular belief, clams are not happy, and most of them are in fact severely depressed. A clam farmer thought that his clams might be depressed, so he started feeding them Prozac and he found that within a few hours, his clams were spewing sperm and eggs all over the place.
Written for Linda G. Hill Life in progress One-Liner Wednesday – July 4 prompt.