Seems like everyone has a saving-a-turtle story lately. Just last Thursday my friend Leah came into work and announced she had picked a painted turtle off the road and deposited it safely on the side. "As soon as I picked it up, it peed all over me," she said. "Just let go. Shusssssssssshhhhhhh." She made the peed-all-over hand motions because even though Leah isn't Italian she has Italian hands that wave for dramatic effect. All I could think of, as she was waving her hands around, was microscopic drops of turtle piss flying into everyone's coffee cups.
The very next morning I looked out the window and saw a painted turtle in the middle of our road. Dave was already gone to work and I was still in my pajamas. "Ah, man?" I thought. "Ya mean I gotta go outside and rescue that stupid turtle?" Obviously there was no one else in the house willing to do it. I put on my flip-flops and a hoodie – my turtle rescuing superhero outfit – and marched outside to do the dirty deed.
Now, I may not be a girly-girl in most respects but there's one thing I draw the line at and that's touching ooky things. Ooky includes bugs, spiders, fish, worms, snakes, frogs, toads, leeches and turtles. And other stuff, probably; I may not be able to list all ooky things but I know ooky when I see it. Cat barf? Ooky. That video of popping the biggest zit in the world? OOKY. Did you SEE that video? OMG. I mean, there's nothing I love better than popping a big zit, but this one was like a tube of toothpaste, or squeeze mayonnaise. Oh yeah, totally like squeezable mayonnaise. Here's the link but I warn you, it's the most disgusting ooky thing you will ever see. CLICK WITH CAUTION!
So where was I? Oh yes, flapping outside to rescue the stupid turtle in the middle of our road. On the way past the garage I grabbed the old broom pole we keep by the door to prop it open. I figured I would use it to prod the house-on-claws to its way back to the river, you know, without actually touching it. In fact, I thought a gentle nudge would do the trick. Nuh-uh. The turtle just turned-turtle and pulled its head and feet in. Oh great. Standing in the middle of the road in the pouring rain with a turtled-turtle. I poked it again. Nothing. Fine. My only alternative, other than picking it up, which wasn't going to happen, was pushing it across the road with the broom pole.
And that's precisely when I noticed the huge mudder-tucking leech glommed on the turtle's hiney. It was SO gross! Ooky to the nth! Poor turtle. I tried to wipe the leech off its back with the pole. Didn't move. I gently tapped it, trying to squish it or convince it to leave. Didn't move. I threw sand and pebbles at it. Hung on like, well, like a leech. I would have ran back to the house for salt if the turtle wasn't in the middle of the road like a kamikaze suicide pilot waiting for the next available mini-van to come by and toaster-size it to turtle-pizza glory.
"Fine," I thought, and started pushing the turtle towards the river, using the pole. Have you ever tried to push a round object with a stick? It doesn't go straight ahead. It kind of turns. Is this how hockey was invented? Some poor idiot in her pjs schlepping a spinning turtle across the road?
Stick-handling the turtle across the pavement wasn't too bad, although the turtle may have road rash to contend with, but once we hit the shoulder, gravel and sand started building up in the turtle's front end. She'd stick her head out as if to spit out her mouth full of gravel and I'd say, "Well if you don't like it, put your feet out and WALK." But she'd look at me with her best "meh" expression and pull her head back in so I was, like, "FINE, eat dirt then, stoopid turtle." She finally got the idea when we got to the riverbank. Suddenly she plonked out her four wheel drive and made a beeline to the edge of the two-foot drop and then, whooooooosh, dove off the edge and onto the sandy beach below.
Like peanut butter on toast, she landed upside down.
With a sigh I climbed down the riverbank and used the pole to set her upright. She swam away without a thank you or a backwards glance, the leech still glommed onto her ass, sucking turtle ass-juice for all it was worth.