[T]he lines on its shell to estimate its age, much as alternating bands of light and dark in a fish’s ear-bones are used to tell how old the animal is."The clam "born in 1499." (Are clams born?)
This is the same year that the English hanged a Flemish man, Perkin Warbeck, for (doing a bad job of) pretending to be the lost son of King Edward IV and the heir to the British throne. It’s also the same year that Switzerland became its own state, the French King Louis XII got married, and Diane de Poitiers, future mistress to another French king, Henry II, was born.It's not like the clam could reminisce about such things. What could the clam say? What's one century or the next to a clam? It's one eternal moment down there. Is it not? Do you revere a clam because it is 500 years old? Does it have a greater clam to continued life than all the little clams in the last bowl of chowder you gulped?
Oh, but those are not little clams in your chowder. Those are cut up large clams, often ocean quahogs like that Oldest Clam in the World, and probably often over a century old.
ADDED: I see I wrote "Does it have a greater clam to continued life." For years, I've had an uncanny tendency to write "clam" for "claim." Taking notes in law school, I used to sometimes need to stifle a laugh. But I don't think I ever wrote "clam" for "claim" while writing about clams. The claims of clams.
What does that clam claim?