Tuesday, June 30, 2009


NOTE: This is a story derived from the Into Focus column, expanded to become part of the next printing of my book, "Dinner With WT", as one of a few bonus stories. It is much more meaningful within the context of the rest of the book - which can be purchased from the publisher:
http://www.synergebooks.com. Please check 'em out if you get time!


There’s something about the persistence of the ocean that’s inspirational. Maybe that’s why so many famous people come from or live on one coast or another.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is kind of a different place. In the spring of 2008, me ‘n mama took a few days to travel down to that part of Dixie, shoot a beach wedding at Nag’s Head, and seek out some lighthouse photos for our art prints. I don’t want to jinx anything – writing this from the beginning of the trip home at the Norfolk, Virginia airport, attracting much unwanted attention from other travelers – but the journey down here went about as well as one who hates to fly could expect….up until “the incident”.

You may not be aware of this, but for what it’s worth, there are no turtles mentioned in the Bible. That’s because they are such vicious and violent creatures that God booted them out of Heaven and condemned them to roam the earth for all eternity, you know, like Cain, in Kung Fu, carrying their houses on their backs. When the books of the Bible were written, the authors were so terrified of these creatures that they dared not even mention them.

For the record, I don’t really know whether or not that’s true. Actually, I may have just made it up. But that seems to make sense to me. Especially now.

Anyhow, we’re driving down Highway 12 toward Bodie Island, and I have to swerve to miss what I first thought was a dead Rottweiler in the road. As I passed it, I could tell it was what we call an alligator snapper – the biggest turtle I’ve ever actually seen outside a zoo. It didn’t appear to have been hit, so I pulled the car over and got out to go move it out of the road. The closer I got, the bigger that rascal appeared. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it had a head about the same size as that of a Boston Terrier.

Notwithstanding my unfortunate experience with WT, back in the early 90’s, my affection for reptiles, particularly turtles, remained with me. I had convinced myself that bad things sometimes happen, and sometimes nobody is to blame. The thought of leaving this big fella in the road to likely be hit, and possibly even injured, by some speeding tourist was unacceptable. Besides, I imagined, anything short of a Hummer hitting this guy at more than 50 mph was going to be totaled. So I pulled off into the tall grass beside the road and hiked back, while Becky sat in the rental car, leaning over the back seat watching me through the rear glass and laughing, to do what I could about getting him off the road.

As I walked toward him, of course, I thought about WT. And I thought of the giant sea turtle that tripped me with her big front flipper as I wandered Satellite Beach in Florida - in the middle of the night - because it was too damn dark to see it there in the sand burying it’s eggs, because the Florida Turtle Cops wouldn’t allow me to take a flashlight. They didn’t want to freak out the turtles. Freak out the turtles! For a moment, that time, lying face-down in the sand in total darkness, I considered the possibility that I was going to become a meal. It literally scared the shit out of me. But I survived. Possibly because the odor ruined big mama’s appetite and she said “to hell with burying these eggs”, and split. It’s a survival mechanism.

My vast experience with turtles has taught me better than to try to pick this big one up off the highway – as if I possessed the strength to do that - but I wanted to get a picture before I did anything. As I walked up to it, a local schoolboy, maybe 12, came up behind me with a sucker in his mouth.

“I wouldn’t get too close to him if I was you.” He warned.

“No.” I said. “I’m gonna get him to bite this stick and I’ll drag him out of the road.

“You better get a bigger stick”, he said.

Smartass. I resisted the urge to ask this little turd if he had ever lugged this guy’s cousin around by the beanbag for several hours.

A school bus already had traffic backed up southbound, and a van had the northbound traffic stopped. The bus driver was standing just inside the door, chatting with another stopped motorist, and about 30 kids were hanging out the bus windows. I could see this turning into an impromptu learning experience that they’d all be talking about when they got back to school on Monday. Here I am, making an impression on the impressionable young ones.

“Be careful”, the kid said, “These ones can jump.”

OK. I was glad the kid was trying to help, but what does some youngster know about turtles that I haven’t learned in a half century of intense study?

“Yeah. Thanks, kid”, I said, “I think this’ll do fine. I got this.”

So I stuck the stick down by the turtle’s head and he lunged at it, coming up about three feet off the ground. That was about two feet short of how high I jumped, screeching like a girl.

“These ones right here, you gotta get ‘em by the tail and drag ‘em.” The boy continued, without even saying “I told you so”.

Both of those lines of traffic, including that busload of impressionable children, were sitting there, watching, patiently waiting for me to move this monster from the road. I didn’t want to disappoint them, but, after seeing that thing jump, I was … (what’s the word?)….scared! Flashbacks. Beads of sweat dripping down my forehead and cascading off my nose. But I had to look cool…and brave…for the children.

So I hauled off and kicked him (the turtle, not the kid) in the ass. Then he pushed himself up, like a dog, and slowly walked off the road. Almost.

There was still just about enough of him in the highway to flip a car, and my conscience battled for a moment or two with my fear before I decided to give it one last heroic effort. As I approached the beast I was interrupted once again by the know-it-all Carolina kid.

“You might wanna tuck that string in,” he said, “He might think that’s a big worm or somethin’!”

He was referring to the white drawstring hanging from the front of my kahki hiking shorts.

I walked on up beside Goliath.

“Kid”, I asked, “Don’t you have to be getting on home? I think I hear your mama calling. Hear that?” I put my hand up behind my ear.

The kid threw his arms out to his side, like he was tired of explaining something to an imbecile. “I’m just sayin’, they eat eels and snakes and…”

I didn’t hear the rest. Goliath’s massive head had shot forward and to the side and his huge jaws had opened and snatched my shorts, strings and all, right between my legs. Of course. As quickly as he had lunged, he retracted back into his shell, dragging me down by the crotch toward him. I laid across this shell, front to back, with my face being beaten by his smelly tail, like a windshield wiper across my nose, as the monster raised up and took off galloping into the woods toward the Atlantic Ocean.

Through all the fear and pain, my curiosity won out, and my first thought was about how high off the ground I was and how fast he was moving. The Carolina kid and the big yellow bus and all the horrified school kids were getting smaller and smaller as the turtle banged my ass into trees on his journey, not able to see where he was going because my little friend was in his mouth and even his eyes weren’t as wide as my body. Aside from the trees, it was a relatively smooth ride. Like air shocks. And after I regained some of my composure I realized that what he had locked in his mouth was mostly a big wad of pants, and just a little bit of wiener, which popped free just before the Carolina kid disappeared from my sight, looking down, shaking his head. Four or five men were running behind us, losing ground, carrying sticks and screaming.

We broke through the tree line and into the high weeds at the top of the beach and then started down through the sand toward the water. My confidence that this fresh water animal wouldn’t carry me down into the sea rapidly diminished. He wasn’t slowing down. I could hear the waves crashing against the shore and I smelled the salt air as this gargantuan brute carried me toward my aquatic grave. In all the scenarios I had concocted over the years, I never imagined it would end like this. It was just about then that the button popped loose on my shorts, and an idea was born. With my eight seconds completed, many times over, I quickly began to wiggle out of my pants to free myself, without regard to the fact that, here on the beach I found no reason this morning to put on underwear.

Just as we came upon the wet packed sand I freed myself from my khakis and flipped over the turtle’s tail, landing prostrate - face down again among the crustaceans and assorted dead things from the ocean – ecstatic to be alive. And the monster took my pants to Atlantis. Then a wave rolled in between my legs and reminded me that there were witnesses to this rather odd event. Many, many witnesses.

I rolled to my side and, there it was, Bodie Island Lighthouse. I shook my head to clear my eyes and I could see tourists up there with telephoto cameras, pointed at me. Then, it sounded like every Saturday at the Little League park when I heard the laughter and chattering of children. I placed my chin into the sand and looked back up the shoreline, and here came all those school kids, and the bus driver, and the motorists from Highway 12. And, like a guy who had just wrecked a bicycle, I jumped up to prove to them I wasn’t hurt. That’s when the park security people tackled me back to the ground and threw a jacket over my exposed nether regions.

The Carolina kid strolled up within inches of my head, with just enough breath left to say “I wouldn’t lay down there with them crabs with no pants on.”


The next day was Friday, and already the story had made the tabloids around Nags Head, complete with amazing pictures. By today, Sunday, when we arrived here at the airport, the Norfolk paper had picked it up. And wouldn’t you know, there are a lot of flight delays. People have nothing else to do but read the paper, and recognize me, and point and laugh.

A few of them even have the nerve to walk right up to me and ask “How’s the family jewels?”

And I do not hesitate to answer.

“Yummy. Want a taste?”

© 2009, Rick Baber

Monday, June 08, 2009


I picked up a virus, called Koobface, on Facebook. Trying to figure out how to get back in. Now that I have (I hope) removed the virus from my computer, I seem to be locked out of Facebook.
Here's a tip, DON'T OPEN ANY VIDEOS ANYBODY SENDS YOU ON FACEBOOK! Especially if they come from me. I understand this thing will attach itself to my "friends" list, and send invitations, etc. on my behalf, and infect the computers of those who open them.

My goal in life, at this point, is to track down the malicious pigshit little bastards who created this menace and torture them an additional 48 hours after they beg me to kill them. Slime-sucking little bags of festering shit, they are.

Meantime, if you have found this website. And you're not a malicious little bastard hacker, please feel free to communicate with me here.

UPDATE: I don't know how, but I managed to log back onto Facebook today. Maybe they got my e-mails... Anyway, I hooked up with an old (44 years ago) friend there, so that's cool. I guess the hackers can breathe another day.