Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Turtle Who Wouldn't Shut Up

There’s something to be said for brevity. In fact, I could go on at great length about it.
But I won’t.
Being succinct has never been my strong suit. It’s an inherited trait. I’m pretty sure the Kennedy family motto, in old Gaelic, was “Never Shut Up.” (Of course, some scholars suggest the “shut” might’ve been a mistranslation of “sober.” Either way.)
Thinking about not shutting up reminds me of "The Talkative Turtle," an utterly terrifying story I heard as a small child. Apparently, there are about a zillion different versions of this story in the folklore of countries from Greece to India to various parts of East Asia. In some versions, the turtle is a frog, or a lizard, or one of the women from The View.
From a Malaysian version, where the turtle is a frog.
Here’s the version I remember… A turtle saw all his bird friends going south for the winter. He wanted to go, too, but his status as a non-bird posed a problem. Finally, two of his home-birds got sick of hearing about it, and they devised a plan. Each bird would hold one end of a stick while flying south, and the garrulous turtle would have to hold on with its mouth. This meant he couldn’t talk the entire time.

Everything was going well, until some kids down below started making fun of the turtle. He thought of a really good burn, and just HAD to say something to those little bastards. So he opened his mouth and ……
I wish someone would try this with Rush Limbaugh.
As a kid, this story scared the living crap out of me. Other logistical and practical problems aside, I knew that neither I, nor anyone in my family, would survive a flight to Cuba without saying a word.

The moral of the story, of course, is “people are their own worst enemies.” Somehow, I totally missed the point. I just thought the moral was not to fly south while holding on to a stick with your mouth.
On the upside, it worked. I never attempted to do that. Not even once.

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