My Best Friend is not an Axe Murderer, but a Turtle
Greenback floating contentedly in his luxury condo
Being a writer can, at times, be a lonely existence. It entails long days locked up in a room while diligently typing as I attempt to achieve the best-selling novel or screenplay. Writers have their muse—moments of epiphany that send them off on a typing frenzy as the thought of success ravages them gleefully. They also occasionally have writer’s block, a bit of an oxymoron in the sense that we really don’t get ‘blocked’ by writing, but blocked due to the lack of an incredibly brilliant idea. When those moments crop up it’s always nice to have someone, or something, to bounce thoughts off of, and that can be frustrating if your only source to share this with has a day job and the last thing he can do is spend an hour on the phone in a friendly chat. So I had finally come to the conclusion that I needed a pet to assist me. That’s when Greenback came into my life.
Greenback is a Red-eared Slider Turtle. As a baby barely two inches in diameter, he was adorable. At the time, like so many others who buy a pet, my thoughts were purely spontaneous. Everyone is drawn by a pet’s ability to captivate them. Puppies are actively adorable, kittens provide soft fur to pet and they love to languish in a warm lap, and fish are colorfully attractive and soothing to the soul. There is that unspoken connection that magnetically draws pet and man together. In my eyes, this tiny turtle clearly wanted me to take care of him. We seemed attracted to one another like bees to honey. As he clawed at the glass I just knew he was begging me to pick him up and take him home. Surely he would be an excellent writing companion and someone I could bounce ideas off whenever I ran into a pit-hole. Besides, how hard can it be to take care of a turtle?
Always, and I emphasize this with great urgency; take the time to research your choice of pets before going to the pet store. Had I done so I would have known well in advance that turtles can live…practically forever. Greenback is not only a turtle for life, but for my son’s life as well. You may go through seven or eight dogs in a lifetime, but you won’t outlive one turtle. Additionally, turtles require a very large aquarium for survival and optimum health. Don’t allow the tiny baby turtles to deceive you, as eventually they will grow to over twelve inches or more in length. Greenback’s 40 gallon aquarium had taken up over half of my writing space. Talk about moving in! It was more like I was moving out.
What began as a simple acquisition of a pet for companionship slowly developed into a major undertaking. A turtle basically lives in his own excretion in water. They cannot eliminate their feces any other way, so they more or less evolve in their own toilet. That’s not very appealing and can be quite a challenge to maintain a clean environment so the animal can avoid shell and skin infections. I opted to go online and research possible turtle illnesses and problems and was abhorred by endless stories of shell rot and dying reptiles due to poor hygiene and living conditions. Suddenly I was on a mission to save my little friend before he incurred any illnesses. What began as a simple transaction of a baby turtle for $15.99, a small five gallon aquarium at $19.99 and some turtle food, suddenly soared to a whopping $400.00 for a new aquarium, top of the line water pump, heater, specialty food, water conditioners, heat lamp, and various accessories for him to be ‘engaged’ and happy as a single turtle. Greenback had now become my newest investment and I had yet to have one insightful conversation with him.
That is now all behind me. Greenback thrives in his healthy happy aquarium, spends countless hours swimming at the corner closest to me, and enjoys his occasional back scrubs from the electric toothbrush when the algae starts to develop on his shell. He has outgrown his chutes numerous times, and is nearly full-sized at a little over five years old. We have had many conversations over the next great plotline for a new story or film. He never complains, never gives me a hard time, nor does he give me attitude. He also doesn't insist on sharing the by line on anything I write. There’s no doubt in my mind that if I had it to do over again I would still buy that baby turtle, but next time I will be sure to have a bigger writing room.
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