When I was in second grade, my teacher assigned our class to write a little story. What if a snapping turtle bit your finger, how would you get it to let go?
Apparently, there is an old wives’ tale that says if a snapping turtle bites you then it won’t let go until it hears thunder – but I’d never heard that legend so I did the best I could with the crazy-sounding writing prompt. I thought for a minute and took to writing!
When it came time to share stories, I was giddy with anticipation because I knew I had the best one. I raised my hand but the teacher called on someone else first and they read their story that was something along the lines of, “I would flash the lights on and off so the turtle would think it was lightning and it would let go.”
“Ok,” I thought that was implausible, but mine was better. I raised my hand again but the teacher called on someone else.
The next person read their story – something about going and getting a sheet of corrugated metal from their dad’s shop and beating it with a mallet so the turtle would think it was thundering. When everyone applauded this one I started wondering what I was missing.
I raised my hand, wiggling in my seat and waving back and forth and finally the teacher called on me! I triumphantly stood up and read my masterpiece.
“If a snapping turtle was to bite onto my finger and wouldn’t let go, I would go get a really big pot of water and some salt and pepper, and maybe some potatoes. I would get the water boiling hot and then I would hold the turtle down into the water until he was cooked – then I’d eat him because he’d tried to eat me!”
I was ready for the standing ovation but everyone looked at me in horror. The teacher cleared her throat. A couple of students nudged each other and laughed. Another one or two might have gasped.
“What?” I asked. I thought it was a sublimely elegant solution to the problem – way better than flashing the lights or banging on a sheet of tin. And the dramatic irony in my story was palpable!
The teacher called my parents to come to an after-school meeting and when they showed up looking worried, she explained the assignment, handed them my story and said she thought I was, “disturbed.”
They read it and said that they thought it was a pretty good solution, even if my recipe for turtle soup was kind of gross with un-cleaned shell-on snapping turtle.
I bet you’ll never look at a bowl of turtle soup the same way!