You know, the British think that we Americans have no sense of humor. Knowing that, we can use that piece of information to our benefit. Now it just so happens that April in eastern North Carolina is when turtles cross the road. Why, you ask?? Why of course to lay eggs on the other side. Humans have had the bad judgment to build roads in the path of the turtles egg-laying journey. George, Anne and I with another volunteer were making lunch, when one of us spotted Mrs. Turtle crossing the road. Now this is just a private dirt road, so Mrs. Turtle was in no jeopardy, but we went over to take a look at this rather large turtle.
George decided, as the chef, to bring the turtle back and have a little fun with the students, telling them that they were going to get turtle stew for dinner. Now George would never hurt the turtle, but the students didn’t know that. George carried the turtle back to camp, and put the turtle in a tub while we went back and told Andy Powell, Bideford’s Mayor, and crew that George had captured a turtle for dinner.
Now we didn’t realize that they don’t have turtles in England. Given this little tidbit, it’s no wonder that Andy had a difficult time believing that we actually HAD a turtle.
Andy pronounced that he was “bloody well NOT eating a turtle” and Anne informed him that it’s a southern birthday tradition to have turtle stew and that George had gone to a lot of trouble to find and catch this turtle and Andy would offend George by not partaking of his special birthday turtle stew. Andy was like “yea right, there’s no turtle” so we said “come on”. Still Andy was hesitant and accused us of “spinning him up” and wanting him to go with us to see the nonexistent turtle.
So off we go to visit the turtle, with Andy opining all along that we have no turtle.
Andy, meet Mrs.Turtle. Andy was quite surprised, but he restated that he was under no circumstances eating turtle anything At that point, Anne explained to Andy that the only way to redeem the turtle’s life was for him, as the birthday celebrant, to kiss the turtle. Anne of course had to demonstrate this, not once, not twice, but three times….and agree to hold the turtle for Andy. But indeed, kiss the turtle he did, sparing her life, a truly chivalrous gentleman. At least Mrs.Turtle is convinced!
So this is how the Mayor of Bideford, England, Lord of the Manor, indeed, came to kiss a turtle in North Carolina on his birthday!
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