Dear RayHarvey: I have heard that a clam without a shell grows into a huge phallic-looking creature that would horrify and intimidate people who are not usually horrified or intimidated. Can you verify? If true, is this reaction indicative of an underlying psycho-sexual issue and is it in any way related to aversion to Tom Jones?
Dear ShyButIntrigued: I’m afraid it’s true. The clam you reference is called a Geoduck clam — pronounced “gooey-duck,” not “gee-oh-duck.” The Geoduck clam is a species of Panope generosa, a large saltwater clam native to the northern Pacific coasts of Canada and the United States. These clams sometimes live in excess of 100 years, residing limp and large deep, deep within the moist sand of ocean beaches.
These remarkable creatures feed on smaller sea creatures, and, despite their peculiar appearance and their elusive quality, they are dug up and shipped to China, whereupon they are cooked and eaten with relish, like so many hotdogs.
The name “Geoduck” — pronounced, I repeat, “gooey-duck” — ostensibly has its origins in a Native American pidgin, called Chinook, and comes from the Chinook word for “to penetrate deeply.” Coincidentally enough, this word has penetrated the English language (albeit rather flaccidly) and has indeed, like the bivalve itself, found a curious kinship with the bearded clam.
As for Tom Jones, the answer is an emphatic No; it is not indicative of any underlying psycho-sexual issues — please don’t worry about that — and the only way I can explain the curious cross-connection you make is by something like this:
Yeah, baby, yeah!