Sunday, June 8, 2008

Step up your road turtle game son!

"Anytime you see a turtle on top a of a fence post, you know he had some help" - Alex Haley

Went on vacation to the Outer Banks about a week ago, and managed to return without a white oval bumper sticker expressing an abbreviation of the place I had just visited. I rode down with my friend Ephrim and I was shocked to see that he had gone back in time and stole all the CDs I had in high school. While glossing over “his” CD collection and slyly slipping in a few select albums into my book bag, I heard the last thing anyone in a car wants to hear. The cry of screeching tires coupled with an abrupt and aggressive “FUCK!” from the driver. I looked up and all I saw was a turtle trying to make his way across the interstate. There was a reason they decided to make the video game Frogger and not Turtler. The game play would have suffered tremendously and the name is just awful. I’m not sure if the turtle had a death wish, was trying to win a drunken bet, or was just trying to piggyback on one of the most reliable chicken jokes of all time, but the outcome wasn’t good. I hate hitting animals while driving (during a brisk run or bike ride is preferred), and the memory of the turtle and I locking eyes before his demise reminded me of my long lost friend Toejam.

Toejam the box turtle was my first pet when I was about 10 years old. Men in a hurry call him TJ for the sake of brevity. I can only imagine that I chose to get a turtle after the success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon that I watched religiously. Toejam was a pretty easy pet I’ll admit. Just keep his sawdust fresh and share an apple with him and he was all smiles. We had a pretty good relationship…or so I thought. One day while cleaning out his tank, I sat him on the ground outside to stretch his legs. My dad called me inside for some reason, most likely to find the remote or in some way misinform me about the habits of white people. Whatever the case when I returned to put ToeJam back in the tank, he had jetted. I’d say his legs were good and stretched. So yes, my pet turtle ran away. I don’t know why he chose to leave, but I’m sure he went to greener pastures.

The death of that turtle a few weeks ago reinvigorated my love for the reptile. I have set a personal goal of assisting 10 turtles across the street by summer’s end. These guys are royally screwed, so now when I’m driving on country roads I keep an eye constantly searching for road turtles. Note to turtles: When I’m risking my well-being and the structural integrity of my car to lend you a hand, some gratitude would be nice. Hissing at me like a scaly cat won’t get you across the street any faster. I would love some competition and since I don’t have a picture of the first turtle saved we can work on the honor system. Just make sure you move the turtle the direction he was heading. Unless he/she is in the middle of a juke move to elude traffic long passed, then you may need to ask the shelled pedestrian his destination. You never know, turtles live a long time. You may just be helping ol’ Toejam get home.

1 comment:

tiburon said...

Man, I used to be that guy on every bike ride in Richmond. The turtles just aren't as abundant here, or at least they are smart enough to stay out of the roads. I haven't seen many at all. I did see one on the trail that leads from Park's doorstep to Dupont State Forest.... yeah.

Also, Aunt Jean was given a guinea pig a loooong time ago. It was given to her by some neighbors of ours that owned and ran "Wet and Dry Pets" in Ashland. It had broken foot from the terrible cage they put it in. Anyhoo, she told me I could name it, but then when I suggested that we name it "Toejam" she (again, Aunt Jean...) refused on the grounds that it was "tacky". You have my card, I say no more.

Fun facts: I got busted on video shoplifting a little jar of shell-strengthening goop for my turtles from the very same Wet and Dry Pets. I never got busted for all of the hermit crabs, mice, fish/turtle food, etc. that I used to steal. I also sold the hermit crabs to people at school, so for a while there was a "keep a hermit crab in your pocket and feed it popcorn" phase at Liberty Middle School. That's the spirit of entrepreneurial innovation, my friend.