Tuesday, July 13th 2010
2 Turtles, 1 Donkey.

At the gym, there is an indoor pond with koi and a turtle. The turtle likes to pull himself up from the water and greet the kids and other gym-goers. Or just bask in all the admiration everyone heaps upon him. He’s safe beneath a “Do Not Touch the Turtle” sign, and no one does.  His favorite perch is pretty much at Seth-4yr’s eye level, and they gaze lovingly at one another before or after swim lessons.

Today, we were on our way to the gym and a white SUV had pulled over on the right shoulder. White smoke puffed from behind it and I assumed they were having car trouble. As I got closer, the driver swung his door open wide, so I moved over to the left in my lane to give him more room. When I did this, I hit something in the road.

A turtle.

A turtle that was about ten seconds from being rescued by a man in a white SUV and then I SMASHED it. I made some strangled cat noise and the boys all asked what was wrong. I said, “nothing.”

In my rearview mirror the would-be turtle hero stood in the road and with both arms stretched high over his head, showing off his two middle fingers.  I can hardly blame him.

I slid down in the seat and didn’t let the kids see me cry. If they had seen the turtle – or if I’d told them about that turtle – we would have had to spend the next two hours having a counseling/grief/roadside funeral session, complete with an irate protestor and I just wasn’t up to it today.

I wasn’t upset about the guy – I know it’s weird and wrong but whenever I see someone with the ability to strike that particular hand position it always surprises and even impresses me a little. I don’t think my hands are that coordinated. When I was in 6th grade I had a very bitter friend (even for a 6th grader) who was always doing this particular hand gesture. Looking back now, and remembering what her life was like, I’m not surprised. Even then, my hands just would not do that. She took it as further proof I was innately uncool. Not that either of us really needed such additional proof. It was already fairly established.

I was VERY upset about the death of the turtle, though. It was moments from being rescued. The pardon had already been called in. The  hero was in position.


I whisked the kids off faster than usual and said “no” when they asked if they could go talk to the turtle. I did not want to be standing next to the koi pond crying and apologizing to the turtle for a crime against his cousin and that really woulda been a possibility. So I said no.

During swim lessons I sent my mother a text saying I murdered a turtle. She called back and said, “THE ONE AT THE GYM?!”  She knew I was headed to the gym. It was a fair question.

At least it wasn’t that turtle.  That turtle has a “Do Not Touch the Turtle” sign and is perfectly safe and living the good life. That turtle was saved.

My murdered, dead, squashed, heartbreaking turtle is the reason I drove waaaay out of the way on the way home just to take a different road and the kids were concerned I’d gotten lost.

“Mom, are you sure this is the way home….?”

“It is today, baby.”  I told them to look for the donkey that we sometimes see when we drive that way and then I looked in its pasture and couldn’t see it either and had this irrational fear that maybe it had gotten out and would be in the road and I wouldn’t see it and then I’d kill it, too.


So then I silently said to myself, Dude. You are not going to accidentally kill a donkey in broad daylight. You are not going to accidentally kill all the animals in the world. You are not some sort of anti-Noah. You are a vegetarian, hello? It’s fine. Just drive the kids home, have a diet coke and CHILL OUT.

And I had a diet coke, but I don’t know if you can tell this or not, but I am so not chilled out yet.


3 Comments on “2 Turtles, 1 Donkey.”

July 14th, 2010
5:00 am

It’s hard to chill out after something like that. I once hit a dog on a freeway in the middle of nowhere on a roadtrip with friends, while driving their car. Neither the dog nor the friends’ car fared so well. They were gracious, so I rarely think about the car, but I still think of that poor dog to this day and that was almost 20 years ago. I hope you are able to forget about the turtle sooner than that.

July 17th, 2010
9:43 pm

That is upsetting. It sounds like you handled it right, though.
…I was going to make some other comment about the man probably enjoying a nice bowl of turtle soup or something, but I just remember you’re a vegetarian. :S Sorry.

August 10th, 2010
10:40 pm

I’m sorry – I can imagine it would be difficult.

But you know yourself well enough to know you would’ve done whatever you could to save that poor turtle IF YOU HAD KNOWN what was happening.

Leave a comment

CommentLuv badge