Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Rise and Fall of Myrtle

You might recall that recently my brother took up with a turtle. He named that turtle Myrtle, even though that turtle was a boy, and he said he was going to love that turtle forever--or at least a long time, since it was a distinct possibility that this turtle was going to grow to be very big and very old.

"Isn't he sweet?" my brother asked. "Isn't Myrtle awesome?"

Last week when I called home, though, things had taken a decidedly less awesome turn.

"How's the turtle?" I asked my mother.

"Oh," she said. "Yeah. The turtle. It smells."

Turns out my brother liked the idea of a turtle more than the turtle itself. At first he was good about caring for Myrtle. Adam cleaned his cage and gave him regular salamander treats and spoke in loving, caring, nurturing tones to the turtle until he reached the end of his rope. The turtle, after all, didn't do much of anything. A turtle is not one of those interactive pets my brother favors--like the dwarf rabbits he went crazy for prior to going crazy for turtles--and a twenty-two year old boy can only take so much tank cleaning for an animal that spends its days sitting on a rock instead of doing something productive like hopping or fetching sticks.

Therefore, he started letting things slide. The tank cleaning became lackadaisical and then it became nonexistent, and my mother, after several failed attempts at reminding him--gently, in a motherly way--to get off his ass and clean Myrtle's tank, had to resort to sending threatening text messages that said CLEAN THE TURTLE'S CAGE TONIGHT OR ELSE!

"Well, this isn't a big surprise, is it?" I asked my mother.

"No," she said. "Not a surprise at all. Also, there have been some... complications."

Not long after Adam brought Myrtle home, the turtle became sluggish. Unresponsive. Lethargic. The turtle seemed even turtle-ier than normal. And his shell started changing color.

"This is bullshit!" my brother said. He thought that pet store in Erie, Pennsylvania--the town of his dreams--sold him a defective turtle. He thought he'd been duped. He thought he'd been conned into becoming the owner of a sick, defective, possibly dying turtle. So he and his girlfriend packed Myrtle up and got in the car and drove back to Pennsylvania, where they demanded to get a refund on their turtle.

"He's sick!" my brother insisted.

Well, actually, no, Myrtle wasn't sick. This was normal, the pet store employee said. This was all very normal. He gave them some basic information on the turtle's behavior and what to expect and then he said, "You know, that turtle isn't a boy. It's a girl."

So Adam took the turtle--once a boy with an unfortunate girl's name, now a girl with an unfortunate girl's name--and drove back to Buffalo. He put the turtle back in her cage and then began the process of ignoring her. Of course, ignoring turned into scheming. After all, Adam was so over being a turtle owner, and he needed to get rid of Myrtle somehow. My mother was on his case now, and so was his roommate. Several nights a week, Adam shares his room and his bunk bed with my mother's boyfriend's son, who is not so fond of spending time in a room that smells like moldy turtle shell and old water.

So Adam devised a plan. He would get rid of his turtle. He was confident he could do it.

"How?" I asked my mother.

"He's putting it on Craigslist," my mother said.

"He's putting his turtle on Craigslist?"




"And has he had any luck with that?" I asked.

"No," she said. "He's going to be stuck with that thing forever. FOREVER."

And the way I figure it, that just about serves him right.

1 comment:

Diana said...

Poor Adam! I wouldn't want that boring old smelly thing, either!