Zodi’s Blog

The Lobster Boy

This is a story that is very close to my own heart. Mostly because this story is such a great conversation piece at parties. Also because my own life has closely mirrored that of the lobster boy. We were both born in Pittsburgh and we both moved to Florida. I love water and he must have, he was the lobster boy for fuck’s sake. That’s where the comparisons end. Ok, so maybe our lives aren’t so much a mirror, as a slightly reflective surface…. like brushed stainless steel.

                                                                                                                                              lobster boy 2

Grady Stiles Jr. was born in 1937 (ironically a great year for burgundy, which goes great with lobster) in Pgh PA with a condition known as ectrodactyly, or more commonly referred to as lobster syndrome. With ectrodactyly the hands and feet appear to the entire world to be lobster pincers. The Stiles clan came from a long line of crustaceans as Grady’s great, great grandfather ‘Rock’ crawled from the sea to begin living on land.

This is not choice DNA to begin with. Because it tastes so good, people often forget that lobsters are bottom feeders. They are the rats of the ocean. I know that if I had to be descended directly from sea life, I’d want to come from the Emperor Angelfish or the California Smoothtongue; that thing could charm the skirt right off of a Yellowfin Tuna. If I had to come from a crustacean it would at least be something noble like the King Crab.

When Grady was a young boy the family moved to Gibsonton Florida, where they all preformed as a sideshow attraction called The Lobster Family. Gibsonton was, and still is a town devoted almost entirely to carnies and freaks. It was a rough place to grow up, and even today the police are loathe to even enter it. They never know when the bearded lady is going to run through the streets naked, or the knife throwing midgets are going to go on a meth binge. But even among ‘America’s untouchables’ young Grady was ostracized and picked on.

During his senior year, which was the 5th grade at Gibsonton High, he was voted prom king as a cruel joke. After Grady skittered up onstage, his classmates dumped buckets of melted butter on him from the rafters. Although he was unable to produce a massacre like you might expect, he knew right then and there that he wanted to kill. And kill he eventually did.

To dull the gripping pain of his tragic life he began abusing alcohol and drugs. Even in that world he wasn’t spared humiliation. Every time he tried to buy an ounce of weed, the dealers would ask if he was sure he didn’t just want a pinch. Then they would laugh and laugh before lapsing into a coughing fit. I’m not sure how Grady could roll a joint, but he was probably a master at snipping the twisty ends.

Unfortunately, overindulgence in alcohol and the Florida sun gave Stiles a pure crimson completion, further driving him into isolation. Even after a specialty wheelchair became available, he preferred to skitter about on his claw-like appendages. He was able to move very rapidly and quickly built amazing upper body strength after scoring some steroids off of the circus strongmen. As he fell deeper into the bottle he became angrier and more aggressive everyday. If he saw anyone point at him and laugh, the little fucker would scuttle over to them and viciously nip at their heels, yipping like a drunken terrier.

lobster boy

Surprisingly he married twice, and when he had his first child he vowed to turn his life around. But in a moment of parental exuberance he became over-excited by his daughter cuteness and pinched her cheeks. 27 stitches and two visits from Child Protective Services later, he was drinking again. He became an extremely violent and abusive husband and father, and ruled the family with a vice like grip.

On the night before his daughters wedding, Grady killed her fiancé in a drunken rage. After shooting the boy, he crawled on top of him and fed for hours until police could finally be coaxed into the neighborhood. A very sated and bloated man, he fully confessed to the crime. He was found guilty of first degree murder, but since no prison in the state had the facilities to handle his disability, he was only sentenced to 15 years probation.

After an obvious divorce and a ridiculous remarriage, Grady was right back to his old ways of drinking and boiling over with anger. After waking up for the 27th morning in a row with unbelievably sore nipples, Grady’s new wife Mary Teresa decided that she’d had enough. So she did what any normal, trailer park side show freak would do and hired another side-show freak to whack Stiles out for $1500. It is unclear whether a pizza also changed hands, as one did in the Graziano murder a few years later.

On November 29, 1992 Grady Stiles was shot three times in the head while sitting in his living room watching Deadliest Catch. Mary Stiles was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 12 years. Christopher Wyant and a third man, Harry Newman, who was supposed to prepare the garnish, were both found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. This was the first murder trial where the ‘battered women’s syndrome’ defense was used.

They should have allowed all three to go free and enjoy some nice bisque.



November 7, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,


  1. “Every time he tried to buy an ounce of weed, the dealers would ask if he was sure he didn’t just want a pinch. Then they would laugh and laugh before lapsing into a coughing fit. I’m not sure how Grady could roll a joint, but he was probably a master at snipping the twisty ends.”

    That is some fucking funny shit, my man. I don’t care what country you call home, or are forbidden to enter again. (Yeah, fuck you too, Albania!)

    Truly a remarkable story and it ends in bisque, as so many tragic tales of star-crossed freaks and the carnies that exploit them. Too bad it totally undercuts the mode of transportation known as scuttling, which saw its popularity decrease due to rampant freakophobia by our nation’s political leaders, who banned it in 1935 (along with leap-frogging and dragging-your-ass-around-on-the-carpet).

    Comment by Capitalist Lion Tamer | November 8, 2009 | Reply

    • How did you figure out the whole exile thing? I thought that the NSA, MacDill AFB, and the St. Pete Times were all supposed to keep a lid on it. Damn. I can’t wait to hear what you did in Albania. I have friends in the government over there (part of my problem with the US authorities, me thinks) maybe I can do something to fix it for you.

      I really wish someone would tell my dog about the ban on dragging-your-ass-around-on-the-carpet. If that little shit does that one more time on my fucking Persian……

      Thanks CLT!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 8, 2009 | Reply

  2. Great work Scott, I can’t decide if you deserve a James Beard Award or a Pulitzer.

    Why is all these biographic stories about arthropods mirror rock star stories—success, drugs, mugshots, lemons and butter?

    Comment by fundamentaljelly | November 8, 2009 | Reply

    • It’s my sincere hope to win both within the next year and a half. I just need a little tweak of my foie gras brûlé And a Walter Reed-ish lucky break and I’ll be right there. I thank you for your support!

      And you’re right; the rock star/arthropod connection is uncanny.

      Thanks FJ!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 8, 2009 | Reply

  3. Tremendous, Scott. I don’t know how you do it, but you always have a way of putting the “wtf” into “SWTFIWTG”.

    The thing that I find most bothersome about this whole tory (I mean besides the disfigured daughter and the naked bearded lady running the streets), is the fact that this guy managed to find two women who’d actually marry him in the first place. I just don’t get it. Where did he meet these women anyway? The personal ads?

    SWL-M, short, red and hideous, enjoys long walks in the ocean and the B52s. Seeks open-minded woman with resilient areolas for possible long-term relationship. Seafood lovers need not reply.

    Hilarity-ensuing post, Scott. Even if it does mean that I’ll never eat bisque again. (mind you, I’ve never really had it before anyway)

    Comment by bschooled | November 8, 2009 | Reply

    • *story

      I really shouldn’t be typing this late.

      Comment by bschooled | November 8, 2009 | Reply

    • Wow B, your dexterous use of acronyms far outweighs my ability to google. Saying what the fuck I want to ghosts?

      That’s funny because that’s the same question that’s been running through my mind all of this time. I really hate to voice this thought but, maybe he was hung like a horse? A hard shelled horse. And who knows what these women had going on under their clothes. I mean they were both side-show acts as well.

      Please don’t say you won’t ever eat bisque now. You’re totally screwing up my plan for date night. I even went to the Florida Gruesome History Museum, and had to make my way through a soiled astronaut diaper, black Dahlia memorabilia, and a bloodstained Versace jacket to get a special ingredient…

      Thanks B!! Really what does SWTFIWTG mean?

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 8, 2009 | Reply

      • Why can’t you just be like all my other dates and buy me a slurpee and couple of licorice? Seriously, Scott there’s no need to go through all the trouble…I’m a sure thing.

        As for SWTFIWTG, that’s the beauty of writing so late at night…I honestly can’t remember. But I do know 2 things…one, there was a what the fuck bomb in there, and two, at the time it seemed pretty deep.

        (might have had something to do with the wine, though)

        Comment by bschooled | November 8, 2009 | Reply

        • You have to try the bisque; I put some ecstasy in it so we could have one of our deep talks. Plus, imagine how great the slurpee will taste when we are rolling. You’ve given me great hope now of reaching my 80 cent life goal. So thanks for that!

          You CAN NOT be serious, that you don’t remember what SWTFIWTG is. I’ve been waiting all day in breathless anticipation. My God women….think. Maybe if you have another glass (bottle) or two of wine, it’ll jog your memory. Please…

          Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 8, 2009 | Reply

          • I’m afraid bisque is not on the menu at TGIF, Scott. You’ll have to swing by the 7-Eleven and pick up a Slurpee and some licorice in my town, which happens to be halfway between you and bschooled. Let me know what time your flight gets in.

            Comment by barelyknittogether | November 9, 2009 | Reply

            • Thanks for the advice BKT! Although I’m immensely loyal to TGIF (they pay endorsers well), I patronize many other fine dining establishments. I sometimes get a 5 star craving which TGIF just can’t fill. I’ll let you know the flight number and time. Maybe the three of us can make it a party!

              Thanks BKT!!

              Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 9, 2009 | Reply

          • Ok, so I drank again last night and finally remembered what it was…

            “Seriously, What The Fuck Is With This Guy?”

            For some reason it doesn’t seem as deep anymore…

            Comment by bschooled | November 9, 2009 | Reply

            • Its cavernous B, I love it! I’m so glad you finally remembered. If turning you into a raging alcoholic is wrong, then I don’t want to be who can’t figure out the acronyms…

              Thanks for getting drunk for me….again!!

              Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 9, 2009 | Reply

  4. Tales from the Trailer Park of Life…..

    Comment by nursemyra | November 8, 2009 | Reply

    • I thought you’d enjoy this one, given your love of strange tales. If only they had an exclusive Cops; Gibsonton Trailer Park Edition.

      Thanks Nursemyra!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 8, 2009 | Reply

  5. I love you Lobster Boy and you’re amazing writing style!
    You take me to places I’ve never ventured before!
    Here’s a hug!

    Comment by Vicki | November 8, 2009 | Reply

    • If I had a dime for every time a woman has told me that I take her to places she’s never ventured before, I’d have…..around 70 cents I think.

      Thanks Vicki, it’s great to see you again!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 8, 2009 | Reply

  6. Thanks Scott for reminding me that even Lobster boy had a devoted woman and that I must be less than a circus freak cause I can’t even get myself a devoted man…..

    As far a Lobster Boys’s condition is considered, he must be a native of the Sharpsburg section of Pittsburgh and his mom must have not been aware that you should NOT drink the water when you are are preggers!! I can offer you some more prime examples of Sharpsburg natives whose parents drank the water and they have paid for it all of their lives!

    This was great though!! You always keep me laughing!

    Comment by tlwshoemaker | November 8, 2009 | Reply

    • Yea, but at least you don’t have to worry about anybody trying to have you killed. Besides you have plenty of devoted men, they’re just still in the periphery.

      You know I though of that while reading a John Grisham book, then I thought of it again while researching this post. That fucking water must be toxic. I’d really appreciate it if you would give me some examples of cases. In the best case scenario I could put together a nice class action lawsuit, and the worst case scenario I’d have some blog material. I’ll cut you in!

      Thanks Tammie!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 8, 2009 | Reply

  7. I’m with CLT. Brilliant stuff, Scott. Sometimes I miss the humor circuit, but it’s nice to see you youngsters still carrying the torch, or whatever the fuck that expression is. Lobster boy!

    I’m suddenly quite hungry…

    Comment by barelyknittogether | November 9, 2009 | Reply

    • I really appreciate all of your sweet, kind words. Especially the part about ‘Youngsters’ and ‘Humor.’ I know just what you mean; I’m craving lobster as well. You’d think this story would turn one off of it, but noooo…..

      Thanks BKT; it’s always a pleasure to see you!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 9, 2009 | Reply

  8. Two quick thoughts…

    1. I bet lobster boy was awesome at foreplay
    8. That bisque looks delicious!

    Comment by Ramblin' Rooster | November 9, 2009 | Reply

    • Wow, two great minds must think alike.

      1) I think the foreplay must have fallen into his ‘pattern of abuse.’

      2) I know, right. I actually printed out the recipe for the pic I used. Although I won’t find the ingredients here, when I get back to the states, its game on!

      Thanks Rooster!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 9, 2009 | Reply

  9. …so, where’s the Steak Boy in all this?….

    Comment by phfrankie bondo | November 9, 2009 | Reply

    • Due to the ridiculously long time that it took to finish Lobster Boy, Steak Boy was sadly charred beyond all recognition.

      Thanks Phfrankie!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 9, 2009 | Reply

  10. The only thing I can think to say is please pass the butter

    Comment by Claire Collins | November 12, 2009 | Reply

    • I know, I’ve been craving lobster sinse I wrote this..

      Thanks Claire!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 12, 2009 | Reply

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