Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Glory of Nature and Why Children Mustn't Know About It

Yesterday I visited a nearby botanical garden (not because I'm any sort of flower buff, merely because it's a nice place for walking), and in a large man-made pond could see many fish and lots of water turtles swimming about. I noticed one pair of turtles in particular: a large one swimming straight ahead, and a smaller one swimming backwards in front of it. It looked like the big turtle was trying to avoid the smaller one, but no matter which direction the big one turned, the little one would swim faster, catch up and resume swimming backward in front of the big turtle. From time to time, the little turtle held its front flippers out and apparently slapped the big turtle several times in a row, or spat water in its face.

So Jeff and I stood by a railing commenting on this, and other people also came by the rail to watch and make exclamations, and suddenly the light dawned: "I know!" I said. "It's springtime -- that must be a mating ritual! The smaller turtle is the male."

A couple feet next to me stood a woman holding her toddler kid on the rail so he could watch the turtles too, and she gave me a look which I'm quite certain was meant to be disapproving, and said, "I told him it was a mommy with her baby."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on now, Jennifer, you know you can't be going around startling the sheep and otherwise disrupting the ignorant blissitude like that, especially in front of the childrun - How else will they learn to ignore any unpleasant reality which happens right under their noses. #BabysFirstDelusion

3:15 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

Lol. That reminds me of an old widowed lady - in her seventies at the time - who lived next door to me twenty years ago. She was one of those prim and proper, southern belle types - originally from Louisiana. She used to sit out on her screened in back porch and drink iced tea in warm weather. In this particular part of Texas the little green gecko lizards are quite common at certain times of the year. One nice spring day I happened to be out back and saw her slapping at something with a stick in one of her planter boxes. I asked her if she had spotted a snake, which are also common around here. Nope! She was shooing away a pair of mating geckos, 'cause they were fornicating right there in the open, in front of God and everybody (but mostly in front of her.) I almost choked, trying to stifle a laugh.

What is it about old women and sex anyway? Not that you are either old or would know, of course - strictly a rhetorical question.

12:07 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

I simply pretended to take the comment straightforwardly, without noticing the disapproval, and said "Hmm, I don't think mother turtles stay with their eggs after laying them."

In all seriousness, I could understand the mom's irritation if (for example) I'd started shouting "Woo! Yeah! Turtles gonna do the nasty! Bow chicka bow wow [pelvic thrust]!" But no -- I merely uttered the words "mating ritual" in a completely non-titillating, scientific context. There's probably G-rated Discovery Kids documentaries about water turtles where the narrator said the EXACT SAME THING I did.

7:18 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

I do appreciate a certain irony, though: the more likely a given person is to cry "Think of the children!" the less they want to think about how those children actually came into being.

7:40 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

Lest you thought I was exaggerating...

12:14 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

I never thought you were exaggerating. Bear in mind: I had a woman get huffy with me for saying the words "mating ritual" regarding a couple of turtles.

8:49 PM  

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