Woody: Turtle ride snaps into major crime

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According to a recent news report, a young woman in Melbourne, Florida was arrested for riding a turtle.

Makes you wonder what the world is coming to. Every night the news is full of sex and violence, and now, turtle-riding.
Like so many modern-day miscreants, the young lady, Stephanie, made the mistake of posting a Facebook photo of herself committing the deed. There she was, astride a giant sea turtle, for all the world to see.

Before Stephanie could even appear on America's Most Wanted, the cops tracked her down and charged her with a felony.
The Swat Team was ordered to stand down, snipers climbed down off the rooftops, and a crack team of FBI agents that had converged on the crime scene was sent back home.

Thankfully the whole episode ended peacefully. When you're dealing with a turtle-riding desperado, you never know what might happen.
One good thing: if the culprit had tried to flee the scene riding a tortoise, she couldn't have gotten far.

Frankly, with all the other global challenges we face -- threats of nuclear holocaust, famine, pestilence and the Kardashians -- I'm not sure taking a ride on a turtle rates that high on the worry-o-meter.

But I did some research and discovered that harassing sea turtles really is cause for concern. If we ignore the problem, next thing we know Stephanie will be riding purposes and lassoing baby seals.

I've always gotten along with turtles, personally. Once as a kid, under the influence of Field & Stream, I attempted to clean one that I caught while fishing in a neighborhood farm pond.

That was 50 years ago and I still have nightmares.

It wasn't as easy as Ted Trueblood made it sound in his magazine article. But I eventually got it cleaned -- well, somewhat -- and my grandmother, being a good sport, fried it.

Ted Trueblood claimed that turtle meat tastes like chicken. I don't know what kind of chicken Ted had been eating, but my turtle didn't taste anything like fried chicken. It tasted like fried mud turtle.

According to an Old Wives Tale, if a snapping turtle latches onto you it won't let go until it thunders. (I've always wondered how Old Wives come up with that sort of stuff: did some Old Wife actually SEE a snapping turtle bite somebody, then waited around until it thundered?)

The only person I've ever known who was actually nipped by a turtle was my boyhood chum Booger Johnson. To be honest, Booger was asking for it. We stumbled on a big mossy-backed snapping turtle dozing on a pond bank. Booger thought it was dead, and nudged it with his bare foot. It wasn't.
Quick as a flash -- as fast as a speeding turtle -- the critter nabbed Booger's toe.

Booger immediately looked to the heavens, hoping for thunder, but there wasn't a cloud in sight. So he gave a big kick and sent the turtle flying. Then he sat down and counted his toes.

Turtles are short-tempered. They're not called snapping turtles for nothing.

Stephanie might want to keep that in mind next time she has the urge to go for a ride.

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Larry Woody
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