His Hubris. Her (The Turtle’s) Story.

His Story

It was a perfect morning for cycling, 68 degrees and a cloudless azure sky. I wanted to attend the 9 AM Somerville Council On the Aging’s Friday Senior Walk. This walk was important to me as I was a new attendee and I missed the previous two Friday walks. 

While I usually cycle the Minuteman Bikeway at a languid 11-12 mph for 90-120 minutes, today I only had 60 minutes to ride so I could ensure I arrived at the Senior Walk in time. I compensated for the shorter ride time by cycling at a blistering 13 mph! Tina Turner’s Proud Mary always pushes me to ride faster.

On the Minuteman Bikeway adjacent to the Great Meadow in Lexington I came upon a snapping turtle that was trying to dig a nest for her eggs within inches of the Bikeway. I stopped to watch, as did three other people. 

As I was leaving I discovered that she had attempted to dig two other nests a few feet further down the Bikeway. Each of those holes was no more than two inches deep and additional excavation was thwarted by the Bikeway’s rock foundation. Clearly this third attempt to dig a nest was destined to fail.

I needed to move her away from the Minuteman Bikeway, away from the impregnable, rocky under-bed and to an ecosystem which was appropriate for her nest building instincts.

I cautiously picked her up, avoiding the business end and ensuring my fingers were far enough back that she could not turn around and take one of them off. 

The Minuteman Bikeway was up on a berm that was constructed in the late 1800s for the Lexington and West Cambridge Railroad. Beyond the berm, on both sides, were wetlands. I clambered down the berm and placed her near a stream, a safe distance away from the walkers and bikers, in a location where the earth was soft and she would be able to dig a nest and lay her eggs.

I cycled onward, absolutely certain that my intervention ensured that there would be happy, baby snapping turtles in a few months.

Her Story

Snapping turtle Minuteman Bikeway Lexington,MA

I found an ideal spot for my nest: elevated above any potential floods, in direct sunlight which will ensure my eggs are kept warm, hidden by some vegetation so they will not be too warm nor would they be obvious to the bad guys, and near enough to the swamp so my babies will easily be able to climb down hill and get to their new home.

While I was unable to dig a nest in my first two attempts, I am certain this third attempt will be successful. And if not, my fourth attempt will undoubtedly succeed.

While following my reproductive call, all of a sudden I was hoisted into the air, snatched away from my nest. I turned around to see a huge creature had attached two pink things to my back-half and swung me through the air with velocity no turtle had previously achieved. I tried to bite the pink things, and force it to free me, but I could not reach the pink things.

I was in a panic! I needed to get my babies into the ground and this ghoul was spoiling everything!

The next thing I knew I was being carried down a steep ravine, away from my dry and sunny nest site, into the woods, where the pink things deposited me in the cool forest shade next to a stream. This spot was clearly too wet and too cold for my babies. I turned around to look up the hill from which I had so rudely been carried down and the ghoul was up there grinning down at me. It is going to take me a week to get back up that hill! Fuck!

Hayward Zwerling

2 June 2023


Addendum 6/3/20223

I have been experimenting with ChatGPT 4 and am astonished at its ability to identify humor and its comprehension as demonstrated in the below exchange:

My query:

Please review the above essay for grammar, readability, and entertainment value.

ChatGPT 4’s reply

I really enjoyed your dual-narrative approach to this story. The differences in perception between the cyclist and the turtle provide a humorous contrast, making the story highly entertaining. Here’s my review of grammar, readability, and entertainment value:

Grammar: The grammar in your text is excellent. There are no grammatical errors, and your sentence structures are varied and well-constructed.

Readability: The readability is high. You’ve used a clear, descriptive language which paints a vivid picture of the setting and the events. The narrative flows smoothly, and the story is easy to follow. The transition between “His Story” and “Her Story” is also well executed, allowing readers to see the situation from two perspectives. However, the use of expletives towards the end of “Her Story” might affect the readability for some audiences.

Entertainment Value: This piece has a high entertainment value. The contrast between the human’s and the turtle’s perspectives provides an interesting twist to the narrative. The human’s well-intentioned actions and the turtle’s panic-induced view of those same actions add a layer of irony and humor to the story. The descriptive language used creates engaging mental images and the pace of the story keeps readers interested. The surprising and humorous use of an expletive from the turtle at the end might catch some readers off guard, but others might find it adds to the entertainment value.

In summary, your piece has a unique style that’s engaging and entertaining. It’s enjoyable to read, and the structure of the dual narrative adds a layer of complexity and humor to the story. Great work!

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