Today, on the news: Customs seize 451 turtles in suitcases.
In related headlines, it’s officially a slow news day. Slow. Get it?
Not for me, though, because I dig turtles. What aren’t they good for? Cook ‘em, fashion tortoiseshell combs out of ‘em, exploit ‘em for entertainment, hell, even keep ‘em as pets. Did just that as a young’un. The pet thing, not turtle soup.
Kept at least half a dozen of the things. Not at once, mind you. Unique, every one of them. Rugged individualists. So I did the only natural thing and named them all Natashka. And why not? A good majority of French monarchs were dubbed Louis, no? My Natashkas were universally small, looked like carbon copies of Tuck the WonderPet (minus the wonky cape), and boy, did they move!
Either they all heard the shrill ringing of the WonderPhone, or simply a powerful suicidal drive.
Regardless, their escape must have been made possible through some outta this world mind-control mojo. How else to explain their disappearing act that never… erm, failed to materialize the second I fell for their soulful eyes and took them outside for some fresh air and carbon-emission scented additives to their lettuce and cabbage diets? Because the critters would universally run off from literally right under my hand as soon as I would so much as blink – leaving the five-year old me gaping at a cruel world that more or less guaranteed eventually finding a fragment of a buffed olive shell bearing the dental imprints of the larger of our neighborhood canines.
Conning yet another of our family friends into acquiring my next victim surely followed, which, I solemnly promised as soon as my parents learned of another would-be benefactor falling for my oh-I-had-always-wanted-to-be-a-turtle-farmer routine, would from now on never but never see the outside of its habitat – much less our condo. And what do you know? This next Natashka would flourish for a week or two. Even a month, if her / his / its (in that innocent day and age, it never occurred to me to sex my turtles) mind-control mojo wasn’t up to snuff – and then, I’d fold. Smuggle it out into the great beyond. And that would be that – but for the selfsame dogs, for whom the Christmas feast would come all over again, borne by a foursome of ridiculously spry legs that never seemed to move even a fraction as fast while their owner bumbled about in their luxuriously appointed shoebox.
Of course, even as determined a pet owner as I is capable of - eventually – learning my lesson. And so, the slaughter of turtles ceased. But did that traumatic time ever instill in me a bone-deep knowledge of the intrepid smuggler’s mind!
Them turtles need constant replenishing on a bustling exotic pet market!