They’re All They’ve Got

Today we have a guest blogger, the renowned podcastress Miette, who sends us this report from far-off Scandinavia:

At the Bergen Akvariet, make your way past the wiry-eyed motorhead feeding dead rats to crocodiles from the safe viewing distance of two rows of chicken wire fencing. Continue past the petting tank and the iguana. Find the big tropical tank of caiman and assorted ancillary amphibians. In the bottom front corner, in plain sight if you’re looking, you’ll see two turtles, no bigger in size than a matching set of Smørbrød saucers. They appear to be beating the carapacial shit out of each other.

Well, that’s a little hyperbolic. But not by much.

This is what’s going on: one turtle is pawing in the gravel and grime lining the bottom of the tank, digging for food, or treasure, or an escape route, at exactly the pace you’d expect of such a beast. Then the other guy (or maybe it’s a girl, but for the sake of this analogy it’s not too important), who’s obviously working hard on his air of indifference, slowly approaches. When the Feigner makes his way within inches of him, the Digger stops, turns around suddenly (again, suddenly being relative here; to these guys, seconds are measured in continental drift), faces his intruder, stretches out his front legs in front of him, and pedals them as quickly as he can to send a quick-beating little dissuasive wave of water thumping in the face of his trespasser. Maybe this is mildly distracting reptilian semaphore for “back off,” or perhaps it fucks with the offender more seriously, sending some sort of echolocative supersonics back to the central wiring. In any event, it’s enough for the unwanted visitor to about-face, leaving our original turtle back to his excavatory devices.

But only for a minute, because the would-be companion is back before long, and back again and again, in continued failed efforts to help with the burrowing, or to come up with an escape plan, or just to collude on a prank against the caiman. The two are stuck in this tank ad infinitum, after all, and may as well get to know one another. But the digger’s having none of it, and will continue to go on this way long after it’s stopped being funny, or curious, or sad, and long after you stop watching and move on to the next thing [the mysterious Dodraugen (Toilet Monster)].

Maybe they’re angry. We don’t know – maybe they have good reason to be mad. Maybe the approaching turtle once made a pass at one of the frogs up on the log, maybe even the cute little Pool Frog whose pain our sad tunneler is now trying to dig away. Or maybe the interloper’s very presence is stealing the thunder that could be met by a bout of educational front-row digging. It takes a lot to compete in a tank of over two hundred species, after all. Maybe there’s not a problem at all; maybe our miner just wants to be left alone. Nothing wrong with that, right?

Actually, there is, and it’s time to let up. In a tank full of the indifferent and the predatory, on full display for otherworldly tourists, fifty feet from the madman protecting you from crocodiles with fencing used to support garden peas, and it’s clear that they’re all they’ve got. Even if there was some sort of cardinal offence involving the world’s most batty-eyed, full-lipped, tongue-darting Pool Frog, they need to reassess the severity of that crime and find their way around it. There’s no such thing as minding one’s own business in a tank like this. They’re going to need each other.

You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side (Morrissey/Nevin)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *