When the fabulous Sarah, daughter extraordinaire about whom I’m not allowed to blog, was a small child of about four or five, she loved all things animal. We had a parrot (don’t ask what happened to the parrot), rabbits, cats, and dogs.
One day in early spring she decided she wanted turtles. She promised to ace her SAT’s in fifteen years, so I decided to reward her with a trip to the pet store in New York City with two friends who were on a play date at the apartment. We got in a cab, headed to the pet store on Third and Fifty-something-or-other, and went in to browse the turtle selection.
Cute turtles! Colorful backs. She picked out two that seemed to be moving as if they were alive, plus the accouterments that you need to have a turtle colony. I threw my credit card on the counter while wrangling three four-year-olds and all the turtle stuff, and headed for home where we set it all up. I took the receipt out of the bag, glanced at it and panicked. The turtles were $850 each.
“Stop!” I screamed. “We have to take them back. God, don’t touch them.”
Sue me. I think I made up some story or other about separating turtles from their mother before they are ready and headed to my room to call the store and say we were on our way back with them.
“I’m sorry ma’am,” the clerk said, “but you can’t return live animals. It’s against the law.”
“I’ll give you against the law. Charging $850 for a turtle is criminal!”
“They are special turtles imported from South America.”
“Well, as with most imports, we are getting screwed,” I said, and hung up. They were thereafter known as the Tiffany Turtles from South America. This is yet another example of why we should only sell things made in America.
That summer, my friend Vicki Gershwin called me and couldn’t stop laughing. She was at her house in the woods of East Hampton.”You have to come over right away. The rain brought a bunch of turtles to the yard, and unless I’m mistaken, they are direct descendants of the Tiffany Turtles from exotic South America.” This was before the phrase, “Just Sayin” was in Vogue, but her tone was laced with the sentiment nonetheless. I hung up on her and refused to go to her house for the rest of the summer. I showed her.
The turtles died that summer in the Hamptons and we put them in the playhouse in the Secret Garden so they could go back to nature. They lasted maybe four months. I still think of them fondly sometimes, and I thought it appropriate on International Turtle Day to tell their story. There are no International Turtles. Just sayin’.