Wednesday, June 12, 2013

You can never have too many turtles, but maybe you can have too many Turtle Diaries? Or, a contest!

For several years now, Ed Park has been urging me to read Russell Hoban's Turtle Diary. So it's fitting that in his introduction to the new NYRB Classics edition what he does is, essentially, urge you--and you, and you over there--to read it. "I'm going to make you need this story," he writes, and elsewhere,
My own shelves are crammed with books I mean to get around to sometime. Yours probably are, too. What if I told you that this novel, of two loners on a mission to liberate the sea turtles from the London Zoo, is like a lot of things you already like, while being so much its own stupendous thing that it's become one of my literary yardsticks?
And what if I told you that my shelves, too, are crammed, with books Ed has convinced me to read (while his, I suspect, groan under a similar weight in return), and that those I've followed through on (Charles Portis! Charles Portis! Charles Portis!) have taken their place among my favorites? When Ed Park tells you to read something, trust him.

He's right about Turtle Diary, too. Told through dual (not quite dueling) diaries, it comes to life through the voices of its twin narrators, William G. and Neera, and the wild (and often hilarious) peregrinations of their strange, solitary thoughts. On the first page alone, William dreams of an octopus, then looks up a picture of one in the bookstore where he works:
Their eyes are dreadful to look at. I shouldn't like to be looked at by an octopus no matter how small and harmless it might be. To be stared at by those eyes would be altogether too much for me, would leave me nothing whatever to be.
From that unexpectedly bleak thought, within sentences he's on to this:
They're related to the chambered nautilus which I'd always thought of only as a shell with nothing in it. But there it was in the book full of tentacles and swimming inscrutably.
"Swimming inscrutably." Perfect, and perfectly strange. A later entry opens:
Briefcases. Businessmen, barristers carry briefs. When I was in advertising we always talked about what our brief was. Brief means letter in German. Brief is short. Life is a brief case. Brief candle, out, out. In the tube there was a very small, very poor-looking man in a threadbare suit and a not very clean shirt, spectacles. He made a roll-up, lit it, then took from his briefcase a great glossy brochure with glorious colour photographs of motorcycles. Many unshaven men carry briefcases. I've seen briefcases carried by men who looked as if they slept rough. Women tramps usually have carrier bags, plastic ones often. I carry one of those expanding files with a flap. Paper in it for taking notes, a book sometimes, sandwich and an apple for lunch. The apple bulges, can't be helped.
Lately I've been admiring Alice Thomas Ellis's ear for the quiet, often punishing asides we deliver, sotto voce or even silently, in the interstices of difficult conversations--and her ability to render their often unsettlingly oblique quality. Hoban has a similar skill with what we say truly to ourselves, the altogether more benign jokes and tangents that pepper our thoughts throughout the day, and that in quantity and importance often outweigh the words we speak aloud.

(My favorite of those? This one, which I have found myself thinking about pretty much every day in the month since I first read it:
Two of the turtles at the Aquarium are green turtles, a large one and a small one. The sign said: "The Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, is the source of turtle soup . . . " I am the source of William G. soup if it comes to that. Everyone is the source of his or her kind of soup. In a town as big as London that's a lot of soup walking about.
How can you resist that?)

The voices, and the underlying sensibility, are what draw you in, but Hoban doesn't rely solely on that--he instead sets his two seemingly inertia-ridden characters in motion and works them through a plot, and even a romance. If the plot is a bit fractured, if, as Ed puts it, "the dramatic mainstays of love and death . . . are not necessarily in the places you expect," well, that's what happens when you set out with oddballs. The book starts off funny, and, while never losing its charm, winds up being moving, earning its place as "one of the great novels of middle age," as Ed puts it:
It's a book that can help you, even if you don't think you need help. (If you've read this far, you do.) It offers solace to anyone who has ever looked at her situation in life and wondered, as one of Hoban's characters does, "Am I doomed?" (Answer: No.)
Now that I've filled your mind with turtle thoughts ("Funny, two minds full of turtle thoughts"; "Now here we are, both of us alone and thinking turtle thoughts."), let's put them to good use! I've ended up with an extra copy of Turtle Diary, and rather than let it moulder on my shelf, I thought I'd give it to someone: I'll send the book to the person who leaves the best turtle story in the comments by June 20.

I'll start. A few years back, I was walking out of Central Park up the 77th Street ramp, when a young man on a bicycle came barreling down the ramp, swept around the curve, and headed north, towards Belvedere Castle and Turtle Pond. How did I know that's where he was headed? In his right hand, held out away from his body, was a turtle, legs swimming in air. As he flew past, the man was saying to the turtle, "Don't fret! Don't fret!"

And your turtle story?


  1. Anonymous3:09 AM

    I was eleven. Just finished fifth grade. The school library was open for a few hours a day in July as a community library. There was a yearly contest to read the most number of books in July. My mother taught summer school so I was at the school being dropped off for vacation bible school and/or day camp most mornings and afternoons which made it easy for me to visit the library frequently and win the competition in third grade and fourth grade. On the last Friday of July, my mother took her class on a field trip so I rode my bike to school, and checked out a huge pile of books for the final weekend of the competition. I filled my bike basket with the larger books and then balanced a half-dozen smaller books on my handle bars. The bike was fairly new and a little large and the first bike I'd owed with hand brakes. It stretched my biking and book balancing and braking skills to bike through the parking lot and playground but I figured I'd be okay if I went slowly and stopped to rejigger the books now and then because the final part of the ride was a half-mile downhill ride. As long as I could use one handbrake and avoid potholes, I'd get my books home.

    At the edge of the playground, I saw a turtle, an Eastern box turtle , a Terrapene carolina carolina. I knew the Latin name not from Boy Scouts but from my mother's best friend's hippie Daughter, Ruth, who kept a dozen of them in a square pit in her back yard and fed them mushrooms, lettuce, and raw hamburger. Ruth was five years older than me but I had a crush on her anyway because: turtles. Anyway, I saw the turtle heading through the pine needles at the edge of the playground and figured that: 1. It would be an easy catch, and 2. It was a handsome turtle with an unchipped shell and I could give it to Ruth saying I rescued it from the road. I didn't think about how I might carry the turtle on my bike.

    It was tricky but as long as the turtle stayed in its shell, I could balance it on top of the pile of books I was balancing on my handlebars if I gave up on the rear wheel handbrake. Steering was difficult but I seemed to be doing okay as long as kept my speed up and didn't use the front brake much. I got going pretty fast. A car came up the hill. I decided it would be better to avoid using the brake, get my speed up and steer by leaning a bit than to use the front brake and wobble all over the road. When the car passed me, I realized I was going to have to deal with the large, nearly street-wide pot hole near the bottom of the hill going much faster than usual. I squeezed the front handbrake as hard as possible just before I hit the pothole, lost my balance, and went head-first over the handle bars into the pot hole.

    When I wiped the blood out of my eyes, I saw blood on my hands, smashed glasses and books and bike on the road. I knew I should go home immediately. I noticed the turtle was upside-down, still in it's shell, and I thought "My parents can come back and pick up the turtle and the books. I'll still have the turtle for Ruth." I got a couple dozen stitches in my head and had to wear an eye patch. I lost the book reading competition. My father rescued the bike, the books, and the turtle. Before my eye patch came off and before the concussion had settled, I took the turtle, and a little raw hamburger, to Ruth and she added the turtle to the square pit in her back yard. We sat for an hour and quietly watched the turtles eat hamburger. Neither of us said a word about my mangled head or eye patch. I was woozy from the sun and the concussion. I went back home. School started. Later, I tried to visit a few times but she was out with friends and I never saw her again. On my last visit, Ruth's mom mentioned that the turtles had been "returned to the wild" and she let me into the backyard to see the empty pit.

  2. My dad loved dogs, but my mom refused to allow pets into our apartment. She was a city girl, and opposed to wildlife. Animals were pests meant for extermination.

    But I was a boy and my wants were paramount. Compromise was found in the clear plastic cup resembling a tropical atoll, with plastic palm and a spit of water for two turtles. I loved them. While they must have been fed, I doubt their home was kept as clean as ours, for within weeks they sprouted wings.

    The transparent sheets were as if the beds in the turtles shells were left unmade and untucked over their legs to float ghostlike and mesmerizing in the still water. Ignorant as I may have been, there was something incongruous about this scene, which I brought to the attention of my parents.

    Had we consulted a vet? More likely the store clerk who sold the turtles to us, either way, the diagnosis was fungal and fatal. Our first pets were unceremoniously flushed down the toilet or dropped into the apartment's garbage disposal. I don't know, but death was not as easily removed from our home.

    Two new turtles were purchased and placed into the old, damned aquarium where the disease remained dormant. The new turtles never had a chance. They developed ill wings and flew off to that great beyond to join their fellows.

    We gave up on turtles after that. It was too painful. There were other animals who might prove more resilient to neglect, such as the cat we got. I named him Monkey for the companion I really wanted. He lived for 17 years.

  3. My dad (who led me to read Turtle Diaries 8 or 10 years ago) was crazy about turtles as a kid. On long road trips to their vacation home in Kansas, he often made his parents stop to pick up turtles crossing the road. One summer he had a turtle, Theodore, that he had adopted this way. He kept Theodore in a box by his bed at night and carried him around everywhere with him.

    One day he couldn't find Theodore; he searched high and low and finally gave up. That evening my grandmother went to get a bowl of beef broth out of the fridge and saw a shell poking up above the surface. My dad, getting a glass of milk, had unthinkingly set Theodore down on the refrigerator shelf and the turtle, mistaking the temperature of the fridge for winter, had crawled in the bowl to hibernate.

    My dad still loves turtles. For the last three summers, the first time just a few days after my wedding, a Blandings turtle has laid eggs in their front yard. My dad tracks the days until when the eggs will hatch and waits eagerly for the first sighting.

    This summer the eggs were laid right where he was planning to build a walkway to the patio. He consulted with the local Nature Center and dug up the eggs, marking the tops with a Sharpie--apparently they have to stay in the same position or the babies will die. The eggs are now sitting on top of their bathroom cabinet and look like a bowlful of eyeballs thanks to the Sharpie dots. Hopefully they will hatch in August.

  4. In the late summer, the fields and marshes along Riverview Road are dense green jungles dotted with the gaudy magenta of purple loosestrife. The road follows the southernmost edge of Saratoga County, N.Y., paralleling the Mohawk River and stretches of the old Barge Canal. More than twenty years ago, I was driving eastbound near Vischer Ferry when I noticed a car stopped in the road ahead and two figures standing nearby. I slowed, expecting to witness an accident scene. Instead, I found two college-age men and a snapping turtle. The latter was parked in the middle of the two-lane road. The young men were concerned that someone would hit the snapper, which was as long and almost as wide as a manhole cover. They were perplexed. How do you move a creature for his own safety who doesn’t wish to be moved, and who could remove your fingers with a single chomp?

    We consulted and flagged the passing cars around the stalled turtle. The men said the snapper, who was facing south toward the weed-choked canal, had snapped at them whenever they approached. I suggested we find a good stout stick with at least the length and heft of a baseball bat, and see if the turtle would snap at it and hold on. Then we could drag him to safety. It worked. I held the branch low and parallel to the ground. The snapper snapped and clamped it in his jaws. I dragged him while the two men gingerly pushed from behind. We moved him just over the edge of the roadside ditch, where gravity took over. He slid down the embankment and submerged, still holding the stick, which now looked like a broken periscope.

  5. As a young boy I had two terrapins as pets: Timmy and Tommy. They were not the most responsive animals, but I grew attached to them and would watch them doing very little for a long time.

    One day Tommy did nothing at all. His eyes had filmed over and he remained under a stone not moving all day. Some poking and pleading later, I realised he was dead; bereft, I rang my mother at work to break the news.

    Between sobs I wailed, "Tommy's dead!", which greatly alarmed her, since Tommy was also my uncle's name. Not till I mentioned the stone and the lack of swimming did Tommy's amphibious identity become clear, and my mother did her best to hide her relief and deliver the sympathy I needed.

    * * *

    I just want to add that Turtle Diary is, along with Riddley Walker, my favourite Russell Hoban book, and I enjoyed your thoughts and the excerpts very much. I find it hard to explain to people why it's so good, so instead I just put the book in their hands and tell them to start reading. This always works, but my (already second-hand) copy is showing its age. I'm so pleased NYRB Classics are publishing it; a wider audience is overdue and deserved.

  6. Anonymous11:40 AM

    Turtle Incident by @SavageRavine

    I was shooting squirrels high up in the trees with a 22. It's a waiting game. The dog starts a fuss out on the gravel road. I walk over to find a very large snapping turtle had laid her eggs. The dog is incorrigibly excited. I command him to kennel. No way. I try to drag him away. Impossible. I'm maybe 11. I don't really know what to do. Then he yelps. Turtle has his nose and won't let go. I try to push it off with a stick. Not a chance. Dog is bleeding. I hit the turtle across the neck to no avail. Try to pry its jaw with the gun barrel but can't break its grip. So I shoot it in the head. It still won't let go of the dog's snout. The dog is dragging it around with an agitated backpedal. Finally I stand on the turtles back, thread the gun barrel through and pry its jaw open. The dog is both relieve and in horrible pain. How much can you smell now? I ask it. The turtle is still clawing and snapping, but in an exaggeratedly slower time. I kick the turtle into the ditch on its back and go off to tend to the foolish dog. The dog is on the porch and my sister is crying a river. She's trying to wipe off the blood but the dog hurts too much to allow it. We get him to his kennel and get buckets of cold water from the hydrant. It seems to help the dog, but my little sister is inconsolable. I try to get her to play in her tree fort until Dad gets home. Mom's in town getting groceries and won't be back until later. The crying subsides. The dog crawls in his house and begins a three-day convalescent nap. Dad gets home and wants to butcher and eat the turtle. Tastes like chicken he says. I've never had it, but have eaten nearly everything else. We walk out to the road and the turtle is gone. By the blood soaked gravel, dad said it couldn't have gotten far. Did some scavenger come and eat it? I asked. Probably not he said. They die slow. They move slow. They live slow. The live long, but the die slow. He had me walk circles around the incident until I found the body. This turtle had flipped itself over and crawled about 50 yards before it relented. I dragged it by its massive tail. Dad carved it up and mom lacquered the shell. I still have it. End.

  7. My story is a dog-and-turtles story:

    We lived in rural Virginia on 2 acres; our nervous-nelly dog, Henry, was always keen to snuffle in the yard, chasing invisible, long-gone critters.

    I would let him go to the end of a very long lead, then catch up whenever he stopped to sniff.

    This particular day, he took off at a run, snuffling the whole way, following a new scent of some sort...until he truly stopped less than a foot from a pair of box turtles. He was stunned--and freaked out. He wobbled and bobbed and tried to get closer, then ran away, then crept up closer, then ran away...for over 15 minutes. Meanwhile, the turtles each had a different reaction--one froze and the other skittered off while Henry was distracted by the other guy.

    It lasted long enough for me to return to the house, get my camera, and record a video of the hysterical reaction from all critters.

    The thing that was weird to us was the fact that these box turtles were smack-dab in the middle of a sea of grass, nowhere near the stream at the edge of our property--we didn't realize they would travel so far afield.

    Watching the video still makes me laugh, and it happened more than 5 years ago.

  8. A quick note to thank you all--I just read all of these aloud to my wife, and we enjoyed them very much! It is going to be very difficult to pick a winner!

  9. Dennis Abrams9:00 PM

    Years ago, my partner and I bought a house in New Orleans that had been split in two, so, for the first few months of our ownership, we had to outside into the courtyard and back into the other half to use the bathroom. One morning I heard an ear-shattering scream from the courtyard -- David came running in and said there was a large turtle out there that had startled him. I went out -- no turtle (and since it couldn't exactly have scampered away...). At any rate, he's lived off this story for years -- and each time he tells it the turtle gets larger and larger, the turtle long ago morphed into a snapping turtle whose jaws he just barely managed to escape from...

  10. I have lots of tortoise stories, but only one about a turtle...

    When I was a kid we had a pet desert tortoise that became a family talisman, and we were all distraught when it escaped through an open gate. For years afterward my mother lamented the fact that it was no longer legal in California to own a desert tortoise (we didn’t know about the adoption program now in place). So when my niece stopped paying attention to her pet Chinese box turtle, "Shell," my sister decided to give her to our mother. Our mother, in her 70s, did not want Shell, she wanted a desert tortoise. Nevertheless, Shell took up residence in a terrarium in the den, where everyone ignored her.

    When my husband Walter joined the family a few years later, he took an interest in Shell. "Why doesn’t your mother do more with her turtle?" he asked me.

    "Because she doesn’t like it."

    "She should take it for walks in the garden."

    My mother, who could barely walk herself, did not want to take Shell for walks in the garden, she wanted Shell to expire. But on one of Walter’s visits (he was doing contract work for a company nearby), he took Shell out in the backyard and let her walk around. After this exercise, Shell seemed more alive than she had in years.

    On Walter’s next trip, he let Shell out again, but when he went to look for her, she had vanished. He was much more upset about this loss than my mother. After a few weeks, she happily got rid of Shell’s cage and food.

    Six months later, my mother and sister were sitting on the patio when my sister asked, "Did you get a new tortoise statue?" My mother looked, and sure enough, it was Shell, still alive, though one of her legs looked as though it had been chewed on by a cat or a raccoon.

    My mother was firm: she did not want the turtle back. But Shell’s story has a happy ending. After some thought, my sister visited the animal shelter with this injured turtle she had "found" in her mother’s backyard. (No mention of having owned Shell for more than ten years.) The shelter folks accepted the story and the turtle. They said their consulting vet loved turtles and would be delighted to adopt it.

  11. Empty Shell

    The scent of rain colored the summer air.

    It blew unsettling everywhere.

    A scream was gathering in my mind.

    “Please don’t leave this shell behind.”

    Heavy hearted, I lifted you

    Or perhaps this fragile thing that was you.

    I held it and tried to feel your dreams

    And then you grew beautiful glass wings.

    Goodbye, I shook, goodbye forever.

    Goodbye, my dear, smile forever.

    You grew into the sky, you were leaving me

    A flickering flame that dissipated slowly.

    The life I held started to melt away,

    It started to chip off, to tear away.

    You flew out fast and unrelenting,

    Ignoring gravity, ignoring reality

    I couldn’t keep up, I cant hold on.

    These glass wings of yours were mighty, strong.

    Goodbye, I called, goodbye forever.

    Goodbye, happiness, have it forever.

    I closed my eyes and released

    Breathe out, exhale, let go of this.

    It rips me apart, but I guess I’ll live

    And you’ll swim on endless rivers in peace.

    Cabbage - August 5, 2009 - June 4, 2013

  12. I was never really good at goodbyes. I have a natural tendency to hold on and linger and not let go. Maybe that’s why it took me a week to write all of this. To fully grasp the reality and accept it.

    The Summer took my little Cabbage away. That’s the most gentle way to put it but even then, nothing changes the fact that she’s gone; or that it’s all because of me.

    She was a gift for me from a friend; an answer to my pet ownership cravings and a way to shut me up as my obsession with turtles started to grow in 2009. I remember the first time I saw her in that small community tank with the other babies. She was the most alert and active though she was probably the smallest.

    Her first birthday was spontaneously celebrated. I was away at school the entire day but I made sure to bring home a cake and ice cream that night, for the humans; and I got her her favorite Reptomin Baby, and romaines. The next year I was supposed to organize a party with some friends, both turtle addicts and normal ones. But my finances were running low so instead, I just got her a larger tank and a bigger basking stone to climb up on. I filled it with feeder fish for her to eat and play with. I loved watching her chasing around fishes. Her birthdays were a very big deal to me. Now, I no longer have that to look forward to.

    I know at this point your interest is starting to wane, my dear readers, because I have unconsciously forced you into reading something about a turtle. But she wasn’t “just a turtle” or “just a pet” to me. Very few will understand but the love I feel for Cabbage is the exact same love I feel for my human family and friends.

    They said accepting and letting go went hand in hand. I accepted she was gone when all efforts to bring her back had backfired. I made her a coffin from a small cardboard box, enough to fit her in,covered her in a blanket of her favorite cabbage leaves and buried her. We lit incense sticks as I quietly whispered an apology and a wish that she’d be taken to pet heaven like all the bettas I’ve lost, like Gong.

    But I didn’t think I had already let it go.

    The past week I have been obsessing over the loss of her. I kept lookng back to the hours after I discovered she was unnaturally still and how we all tried to cool her down and wake her up. I sifted the internet, searching and researching what I could’ve done. I leafed through volume after volume of all 15 turtle books I’ve collected over the years to find out if there was more. I momentarily sought photos of her on my phone, on my computer, trying to apologize to the stiff images for not being able to save her. Everyday, I sneaked out and lit more sticks at where we buried her because what else is there to do? I even wrote a poem and doodled sketches of her because I could no longer keep all these emotions inside and these confused internal rage is killing me.

    I will miss you my dear little Cabbage. I will miss the sounds of your clumsy legs walking around the garage. I’ll miss your disapproving looks at me when I drop vegetables on your tank instead of pellets. I’ll miss the way you always try to wriggle yourself out of my hands when it was time for scrubbing up your shell. I will miss the mornings I catch you basking in the life giving rays of sun, and the tranquil, peaceful state of being I feel when I see you there.

    I’m sorry I didn’t take care of you enough but I hope you are now at a much better place. There with Gong where both of you will swim together on eternal river water how ever long you please. Where you’ll never be afraid, or go hungry or upset. The four years we had meant so much to me. I hope you lived a happy turtle life with me, too…

    I love you very much, Cabbage and now I’m letting you go.

  13. Anonymous5:02 AM

    In 1997, in Athens Greece, a cousin of mine had an extended house-sitting arrangement with an elderly woman who had gone to London for some kind of therapy. It was a one-floor house in Kypseli, an area of Athens that had once been both a popular middle-class neighbourhood as well as home to all kinds of writers, musicians and arts, but had now become overpopulated, even slummy in parts. The living room had French windows that opened to a shabby, dusty garden surrounded on all sides by apartment buildings. The old woman had rescued two turtles in the early 1980s and given them a home in this garden. They were still alive when my cousin was staying there and one of her duties was to make sure they had food and water.

    One day she was sitting in the living room when she heard a thudding noise on the French windows. She tried to ignore it, but it kept occurring. Finally she got up. Through the window she saw one of the turtles knocking at the base of the door with its head. When she opened, it turned around and started walking away. After a few steps, it stopped and looked back at her. It took a few more steps and again looked back. To my cousin's amazement, the turtle was trying to lead her to the end of the garden.

    She followed it to where some empty ceramic pots were kept, and among them she found the other turtle, which had somehow managed to fall over and was stuck on its back. She turned it over again, and the two turtles went off to another corner of the garden together.

  14. Jack Walter6:37 AM

    When I was very young and went to pre-school at my church, one day the teacher brought in a real live turtle and a book called (in my young mind) Mr. Reddy Ears. It was about a turtle with red ears. The class loved the book and the real turtle. One day, the teacher contacted my grandmother and said she wanted to give me the turtle, because she saw that I loved it so much. So my grandmother and I walked to church and picked up Mr. Reddy Ears. I remember walking back home with him in his glass bowl. I kept him and fed him until he died and my father buried him in the back yard. It was my first experience with death.

  15. June 17, 2013; 14:12—
    If I write a story about turtles I can win a book. I don't have many stories about turtles.

    I once read a story about a Turtle. That turtles name was Yertle the Turtle, and I thought he was an asshole. Then I found out he was based on Hitler who was an asshole in real life.
    This proves that not only is evil objective (rather than subjective), but that turtles are natural assholes.

    I probably shouldn't enter the contest with that.

    The oatmeal I ate earlier was good. Debating whether or not I should buy new sunglasses.

    June 21, 2013; 20:14—
    So I didn't win the book. My story wasn't good enough. Fucking turtles always giving me shit.

    I swear Oatmeal is the best food. I guess I'll buy those sunglasses to cheer me up.

  16. ½

    In a small town hidden deep within a forest, there lies a village of turtles. And in this village of turtles, there is Seamus. Seamus possesses a bizarre obsession for halves. He only consumes halves of berries and leaves. He sleeps for five hours instead of the usual ten hours the rest of his family sleeps. He insists on pregnant pauses halfway between his sentences and when writing essays upon paper, he only writes on the left half. He likes any shape that is able to be halved and because of this, irregular shapes infuriate him. Seamus is particularly fascinated by the brain, which he has been taught is split into left and right lobes. He lusts after Tinkups, one of his classmates at school, because she owns the most symmetrical face he has ever seen on a turtle.

    Seamus dreads the day he turns fifty because that will mean he is more than halfway close to his death. He believes that every year after the fiftieth year of his hopefully one hundred year lifespan will bring him undulating amounts of bad luck.

    Little does he realise that there are just some things in his life in which he cannot halve, or control.

  17. I know I'm too late for the contest, but where else will I ever be able to tell that I once dreamed I had a tortoise named Quonset? I'm not usually one to tout the genius of the dream world, but how perfect a name is that? Someday I will own a turtle or tortoise, that's what I'll call it.