The oddest subject I ever massaged was a turtle. What happened was, during my abortive career as a campaign manager (thank Goddess it was abortive; like the newsboy in the whorehouse, I don’t think I could have taken a dollar’s worth), there was a weekend of PR tabling at a large local fair. Since we are in the brick-scabbed burbs here, most of the hoopla involves politics or some local organization longing for attention. memberships and money; if there’s any real excitement, it usually involves a witless Fair Board situating the Legion Of Mary directly across from the local NARAL, or something like that.
We were safely out of the way of anyone annoying, next to a lady who was selling some kind of glass art and across from the regional Park Authority. A polo-shirted, no-nonsense middle aged herpetologist had a couple of snakes and a whopping, reputedly 80-year-old box turtle in enclosures; the station was a surprising draw, owing to one of the snakes, a quite long mole king snake the color of tarnished pewter, who enjoyed burrowing into, under and through the polo shirt, popping out periodically at a collar or sleeve.
All candidates have to kiss babies and the like, but I sensed that my fearless leader was quite taken with Snake Lady. Eventually he held the snake for a while himself and it had a go at his jacket sleeve, but since the suit fit like shrink-wrap, they just had to converse. I felt somewhat de trop and went off to pester the local media, that being my assignment anyway.
“She brought the turtle over,” my candidate informed me when we took a breather for lunch. “Did you know that turtles get erections? It actually had one. I don’t know why but she wanted to show me.”
I began to get a little nervous. The guy was mercurial enough already and he didn’t need some Parks functionary irresponsibly inflaming him with the spectacle of turtle hard-ons. The acquaintance sounded like it was prospering in a strange way, but I really wasn’t thinking about it when I stopped at a booth later that day and picked up a professional tool I already knew and liked, the Fukuoku (I am sorry but that is the name) vibrating massage glove, which I use for giving facials. They wear out eventually and at the time were hard to find so I snapped it up.
When I got back to the table I fired up my new purchase to check it. Of course everyone wanted it run over their heads, including Snake Lady.
“Hey, would you try it on the turtle? He’s been kind of sluggish,” she said. “And I noticed when we let him out he seems to like things that have a vibration.” Do you know how bored you can get over three days of passing out leaflets and pitching the same platform over and over, stopping only to eat, sleep and pee? I found myself kneeling on the linoleum, turning the glove onto its low setting (at that level, it feels about like an electric toothbrush) and stroking four fingers across the mottled carapace.
Whang!!! Head, tail, and all four feet shot out of the shell at full extension, and Mr. Turtle started motoring around the floor, much to the delight of Snake Lady and a couple of kids who had happened by. After his tour of inspection threatened to lead him under the drapes on the Legion Of Mary table he was returned to his terrarium, where he ambled up a chunk of wood and eyed everyone beadily but rather gamely.
“I don’t know if he liked that or not, but I don’t think he hated it,” she said.
Just for the record, those gloves are washable. I told her where she could find one. What happened after that, I am not sure I want to know.