Learning that whoever treated the tortoise with love and essay on my pet turtle was a keeper. Weekly essays that explore the joys and tribulations of love. Internet Explorer 9 or earlier.
Go to the home page to see the latest top stories. UPDATED: You can now hear this essay read by the actress Ruth Negga in Modern Love: The Podcast. I never intended to get a tortoise. I was in a troubled relationship with a man who was the opposite of me in almost every way. While I felt exiled every time I left Manhattan, he yearned to move to the country. When we discovered we both wanted a pet, though, we thought we finally had found common ground.
I was allergic to dogs and cats, so we scouted for other possibilities at the pet store. Finally I pointed to a crowded tank, a glossy shell and a pair of orange ringed eyes. This is what you want? We named the tortoise Minnie, and by the time we realized she was a he, after an eye-popping male display, the name had stuck. How could we have gotten this wrong? How could I not love this strange little creature?
Minnie scuttled around our apartment, taking delicate little steps, sometimes eating lint off the carpet. He clacked his jaw as if he were speaking and drew up his long, lovely neck to sniff at the air. I bathed him in the sink. I hand-fed him avocado, wiggling it so he would think it was live food, and sometimes he shut his eyes as if the morsel was simply too delicious to bear. I even kissed his shell. And though he had professed to want to marry me, he began to mention it less and less. The more time I spent discovering the tortoise, the more my boyfriend uncovered things about me he didn’t like.