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Rumors of Speedy’s demise greatly exaggerated

“Speedy’s dead!” my wife wailed. She was frowning and her bottom lip was sticking out.

“How do you know the turtle’s dead?” I responded from my chair while watching the Jaguars – who also looked pretty dead.

“He’s … got that dead look.”

“Maybe he’s asleep.”

“He’s underwater and his eyes are closed.”

“He’s a turtle. He’s probably asleep. Did you tap on the glass?”

“No. I didn’t want to wake him if he is asleep.”

“He’s a turtle. He’ll go back to sleep if you wake him.”

She went in the living room where Speedy the turtle lives in a converted aquarium. I heard her tapping on the glass. A few moments later she walked into the room.

“Okay. He was just sleeping. But he looked dead!”

“Rumors of Speedy’s demise are greatly exaggerated.”


“Thank you, Mark Twain. But he did look dead.”

“Did he have Xs for eyes?”

“It’s not funny. I love Speedy.”

My wife has taken to Speedy in a way she has not to our three cats. Probably because she didn’t want the cats in the first place. They just showed up – as cats will.

Speedy kind of showed up, too, and I was surprised my wife didn’t complain about him living in the house. But she immediately took to him. She feeds him and talks to him. She had a turtle named Turty when she was a girl so she was disposed to like him. She even calls him Turty from time to time.

The turtle also likes her. He does stuff that I’ve never seen a turtle do. He will “climb” the glass and sit on the bottom of his shell and look at Kelley when she’s talking to him.

He’s the most social turtle I’ve ever seen. My son Dylan took him to school and he lived in his biology classroom for a while until Dylan was told that he couldn’t have live animals in class. But by that time, Speedy had gotten used to seeing 150 kids every day and was completely social.

His aquarium is in front of the living room window and the cats sit and look at him and he them. I suspect, however, that if, like in Tweety and Sylvester cartoons, we could see what is in their feline minds, we’d see a big pot of turtle soup.

I like animals and I really like Speedy. Why? Speedy/Turty is a survivor, another reason to like him.

When the kids were little, their Aunt Debbie gave each of them turtles — the little turtles that you can buy in pet shops and are about two inches long.

My children’s turtles didn’t make it, dying within days of mysterious circumstances. Or maybe not so mysterious. Spencer, who was about four at the time, decided that his turtle – Yertle the Turtle – would much prefer a donut to a piece of lettuce. So Spencer fed him one of his Sweet Sixteen powdered donuts. I guess Sweet Sixteen powdered donuts are like arsenic to turtles and Yertle went to the big aquarium in the sky.

We should have known that would happen. The only thing that I ever won – ever – in my life, was a dead turtle at a school carnival when I was 10. It was a cake walk, and other kids were winning coconut cakes and pecan pies and chocolate chip cookies.

I won a turtle.

I was thrilled. Who wants a chocolate chip cookie when they can have a turtle? I named him Tootie after a favorite character on my favorite TV show, Car 54, Where Are You?

I took Tootie out of the box when I went home and put him on the floor. He didn’t move. I nudged him. Nothing. I went to have dinner and when I came back he was in the same spot. I went to bed and when I got up he was still there. Either he was the slowest turtle on record or he was in turtle heaven. I didn’t even feed him a Sweet Sixteen donut.

But Speedy lived. And grew. And grew, and he is now about 10 inches long. He was cousin Ashton’s turtle but she gave him to Dylan last year so he could take him to his biology class. Now, Speedy lives with us.

Good ole Speedy, the turtle that can stand on his shell.

I guess he also knows another trick.

He can play dead.

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