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Testudine mind games

I'm not a great fan of animals.

I don't hate them. I don't wish ill on them. I think that people who are intentionally cruel to animals are idiots who should be given a strong dose of the "right back at ya" rule to see how they like it.

I just don't particularly like them.

The obvious reason why I don't like animals is because I'm allergic to many of them. It's difficult to really bond with nature when so much of nature makes your eyes sting, your nose run and your lungs contract into walnuts.

The other reason why I don't like animals though is this: they are unpredictable. You never really know what an animal is thinking. They're always going to do something that surprises you and sometimes that surprise amounts to defecating in your shoe or nom-nomming some special food you've brought in. And some animals - the really cunning ones - will use this in a secret war of attrition where they seek to bring down the dominant species on the planet.

So with all this in mind you can see why I'm not the best person to be asked to tortoise sit.

I can guess what you're thinking - "Caroline, tortoises are the simplest creatures on the planet. They're slow, they're transportable, every now and then they eat a bit of veg and they spend most of the year hibernating. Seriously, a tortoise is nothing to worry about."

Well not this tortoise, my friends. Not the 78 year old tortoise known as Flash because he is an expert at mind games and his favourite mind game is "Make The Stupid Human Think You're Dead".

He likes to sit in the same spot for hours at a time with only his little legs visible and his head firmly stuck in his shell. Sparrows come and perch on him. Next door's cat stops by to give him a sniff. Nothing makes that head comes out of the shell. I even tried putting down some nice lettuce and tomato to try and tempt him out.


All the time he's sitting there, I keep peeking out of the window trying to see if he's okay.

Remembering how the family friend who handed him over emphasised his great age but how he should have plenty of years left in him.

Worrying that I'm going to have to tell this family friend that the one and only time I'm asked to tortoise-sit the bloody thing konked out on me.

Fretting what I'm going to do with a dead tortoise while waiting for the family friend to come back.

Wondering how hygienic it would be to keep him in a plastic bag in the freezer.

And Flash just sits out there. Laughing in his shell at me.

Eventually I crack and decide to go and check that he's not an ex-tortoise pining for the Galapagos Islands.

This is when his plan becomes all the more devious. Because obviously the first thing I do to see if he's alive is gently stroke one of his little scaly legs to see if it moves. I can only summise that Flash has been standing there so long that his nerve endings have gone to sleep because I get no reaction at all.

Then I panic. I pick him up. I say the word "hello?" into his shell as if I'm actually expecting:

(a) a reply; or

(b) a cavernous echo.

Still nothing. I'm really beginning to lose it now because our freezer's jam packed and I've got no idea where I'm going to put all the ice cream while I'm storing the tortoise corpse. I actually say the words "Oh, please don't be dead."

Which is of course exactly the point when Flash decides to pop his head out and reveal that he's still going strong and he's played me like a violin.

The little git.

So yeah. My future policy on all future requests for animal babysitting is going to be a polite "Thanks, but no thanks". Honestly, it's been 24 hours and my nerves are already frazzled.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 18th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)
*collapses in laughter*
Sep. 18th, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC)

Get your revenge. Go completely still and pretend you're dead and see if he cares.

He'll probably bite your toes.
Sep. 18th, 2010 02:27 pm (UTC)
This post cracked me up. XD
Sep. 18th, 2010 02:46 pm (UTC)
*snorts* I can't wait to see your life novel in book format
Sep. 18th, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you for making me giggle. I have just had the mortification of having to abandon my shopping in tesco due to having left half the means to pay at home...
Sep. 18th, 2010 05:03 pm (UTC)
Rich coming from me, but you really worry too much.
Sep. 19th, 2010 03:30 am (UTC)
writerjenn tweeted about this, and I had to come read. Too darn funny!
Sep. 23rd, 2010 09:03 am (UTC)
Hahaha love it! Only you could find evil in tortoises ;)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


Caroline Hooton

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