7/16/2006

Yertle

Yesterday I visited a friend's cottage. The city air has been so charged with humidity lately that the offer of heading toward some cleaner country heat was a welcome one.

Once there, it was bathing suits and jumping into the river from the dock to wash the city away. After the intermediate splashing and swimming, I planned to sit on the dock and let the sun get to first base with me.

When it was time to get out, I swam until I hit waist high water. I started to wade back the rest of the way when I saw something moving to the right of me. There are often fish that will come to say hello when you're in the shallow water but this was something else.

I stopped and it came toward me and surfaced. A turtle. It was about 5 inches long. One quick look at me and it dove back under. The first thing I thought of was Jerri Blank's turtle Shelly. The next thing I thought of was the turtle I once had as a pet years earlier.

Shortly after my parents had traded me for a red paper clip at the age of 5, they realized their folly and bartered for my return. It had come to them that they could probably get all sorts of office supplies for me if they just held out. Once I had rejoined the family already in progress, they decided they'd have to work fast because I wouldn't be little and cute forever.

To buy my silence, I was given a pet turtle. It was a wee little thing at maybe 2 or 3 inches long and I loved to watch it swim and make it's way around the little plastic bowl.

The clear bowl was a perfect habitat complete with molded steps for climbing and a palm tree for lazing under. With my little can of turtle food, I felt very adult and responsible for the welfare of another living being. Until I forgot about it. I was 5. Don't judge me.

One day, I realized that I hadn't seen the little fella in a few days and asked mom what had happened to it.

Your sister took him to school to show and tell last week.

Show and tell? What's that?

Never mind. You'll get it back later.

I anxiously waited for sis to come home that afternoon. The moment she got in, I asked where my turtle was.

Oh, well, um, you see, he kind of won't be back since there was a bit of a problem at school.

What? What do you mean? What kind of problem?

Well, I left him there over the weekend and forgot to feed him so he kinda died. And then we dissected him in biology class.

Died? What's that? What do you mean bispected him? What's that?

Never mind. You'll get him back when you're older but only if you're really good and don't mention him again.

I never said a word. I never mentioned him again. I said my prayers every night and dreamed of the day we'd be reunited.

Eventually I was traded to a circus family who forced me to do odd jobs like trimming the bearded lady's toenails and making sure the ashtrays didn't overflow. I never said a word but those were some nasty toenails.

One day, I was surprised to learn that the bearded lady had a cottage. She invited a bunch of us to come over for a swim and while there, I spied a turtle in the water. I could tell by the way it poked it's head out of the water that it was the same turtle I'd been missing all these years. He was all grown up and letting me know that he was okay.

I smiled and realized that all those years of waiting and being good had been worth it.

That night I had the best soup I'd ever eaten.

25 comments:

Coaster Punchman said...

I am speechless. I am without speech.

Dale said...

Aw come on CP, not even a quote from Mommie Dearest?

mellowlee said...

Turtle soup ick! I wonder about the person who decided it would be a good idea to try turtle in soup. They must have been starving or something. Poor little turtlie!

Beth said...

What a beautiful fable; the tear rolled slowly as I read. Why, it was running close to Edward Scissorhands in my heart, dealing with pain and loss and the discovery of a lost love. I was ready to call my illustrator pals for the children's book version. And then ... I clicked the soup link. No book for you!

Creepy said...

I feel your pain. When I was a lad I awoke one morning to find my guinea pig, Anthony, lying on his side, twitching. I screamed for Mom, who told me to get dressed for school, she would take him to the vet. All day long I worried about him and ran all the way home to find out what happened. Mom assured me he was fine and would be back home in a month.

I counted the days and when 'the' day finally came, I was excited beyond description. When the school bell rang I ran home, threw open the door but found no Anthony. When I asked where he was my older sister Wendy delivered a crushing blow: she informed me Anthony had been dead all this time. Mom thought I would forget about my beloved guinea pig after a month. Unfortunately, I hadn't.

Childhood isn't all it's cracked up to be.

chelene said...

You are really just brilliantly funny, Dale. And evil. But mostly funny.

ziggystardust73 said...

ahahhahahaaaaahahahahahhahaaaaaa.

ahahahhahaahaaaaaaaaa.

(trying to impress on you how much this post made me laugh.)

anne altman said...

you have humidity up there too?

Dale said...

Probably the same person that thought Shark Fin Soup was a good idea Lee.

Damn Beth! Not even a cookbook deal? I ruin everything!

Sorry about your guinea pig Creepy. Your sister sounds like she could have substitute sistered in my family.

I appreciate being awarded the mostly funny with a hint of evil Chelene seal of approval. I think you're mostly not evil too.

Thank you for commenting Ziggy. Your use of the letters h and a impressed me. I prefer that to the letters L O and L. Unless you've got video to prove it.

Anne, we hold an annual Humidity Festival and if everyone shows up, it's a real hoot. Usual participants: Air quality advisory, heat alert, humidex warning, don't go out or you'll die contest, fun? wow!

anne altman said...

that's the best present a girl in humidity could ask for. i'm on my way!

Dale said...

You like soup right?

Melinda June said...

You have to respect someone who answers the question, "Pets or meat?" with "Yes."

My dad always springs "Iowa treats" on me when I'm home, meaning he tries to impress his cosmopolitan daughter with quaint, silly, or downright peculiar things in the tiny towns in the area. Last summer I got to have turtle soup in a church basement. It sucked.

Bored Dominatrix said...

I dig turtles--I think they are the most prehistoric-looking animal still around. That makes them very cool to me. I doubt they have much meat on them, though. Probably why you have to make soup out of them.

Old Lady said...

Turtle steak tastes like country fried steak. Frog legs like chicken.

Dale said...

Nothing but respect Melinda June. I have no doubt Turtle Soup sucks and this is why the recipe is so damned long.

They're fascinating creatures I agree BD. If we got Animal Planet here, I'd never go out again.

Thanks for the taste test Old Lady. Interesting.

justacoolcat said...

LOL

Dale said...

You're a funny funny man. On your planet CC. Your braids may have tangled in the keys. Grrrr.

darling24_7 said...

Thank you for this post. I was highly amused :)

Dale said...

You're very welcome darling, if I may call you darling...I live to highly amuse. :-)

darling24_7 said...

hmm terms of endearments already? I didnt realize we were so far ahead in our relationship. LOL If you insist dear.

Dale said...

Maybe I should just call you 24_7 so things don't get too heavy too fast. Darling.

X. Dell said...

I rrecently read about a guy who traded a normal paper clip for a pen, and kept working his way up until he traded for a house.

Seems like your second family got a raw deal. After all, they had red paper clips:-)

Living with a circus family might be nice. Get to travel and wow the women with your acrobatic skills and all.

Dale said...

Funny how my family starts the paper clip trading fad and fails at it. The circus was nice but I can't sleep now without a couple of swings on the old trapeze. And by old trapeze, I mean...

darling24_7 said...

lets leave it at Darling. 24_7 sounds cold. I wont think anything of it lol

Dale said...

Darling it is, darling.