– A memoir about leaving the turtle haters club.
Jimmy hated turtles, he just wasn’t sure why. He knew hating turtles was the ‘right’ thing to do. He’d been taught that most of his life. In fact all his close friends and relatives were turtle haters. Seemed to him at an early age that turtle hating was just the way the world worked.
That was probably because in the place he was raised there were very few turtle lovers. Most people he knew growing up were turtle haters too. Everyone he knew went to turtle hater club each week. He was even taught to love turtle lovers but hate the fact they loved turtles. Jimmy internalized that teaching even though it seemed very confusing and illogical at the time.
Turtle haters club was a nice place to go. People were really nice to you there and always welcomed you and smiled. At the club you started learning about turtle hate at a very young age. You recited things about how turtles were slimy and gross and how they were ponderous and slow. It wasn’t all about turtle hating though. There were lots of other great messages there at the club, about helping others, being kind and generally teaching you to be a good person. Much of what was taught at turtle haters club Jimmy agreed with completely. Turtle hate though, that was what bound the club together. Love of turtles was not to be tolerated. You could tolerate people that loved turtles, fellowship them even, hoping maybe some day they would see the error in their ways and understand why turtles were meant to be hated.
Jimmy learned growing up that you could understand and develop a hate for turtles too. You just had to want it bad enough and try really hard. If you kept at it long enough you would eventually hate turtles. Others had done it. They said so every month at turtle haters club. Leaders in the club and parents and friends of Jimmy would stand up and declare their hate for turtles describing experiences that helped them develop that hate. It was very emotional, some would cry when they declared this turtle haters club to be true and right and that moved Jimmy because he could feel their emotion. Surely as the leaders said, this emotion was telling Jimmy about how it was right and true to hate turtles. Jimmy even developed his own hate of turtles, by focusing on it and fanning it into flames of disdain whenever he could.
Jimmy was a thinker though, a soul that loved to question and learn. One day he saw a link on the internet. “The truth about turtles” it said. He felt scared just to look at it, he had heard about these things at turtle haters club where they said there were so many false things on the internet about turtles. Jimmy wondered though, even though he hated turtles he wondered. He was even a teacher in turtle haters club, a respected position in a community where most people were turtle haters. People from the club had often told him how much they loved his lessons and how they felt so good when Jimmy declared his hate for turtles, how strong and moving it was.
So this link, “the truth about turtles” it was scary to Jimmy. Often times he had been taught (and he had taught others) that he could lose his hate of turtles. He had to protect that hate and reinforce it by only reading stuff from the turtles hater club about turtles. That was the place of truth about turtles and you could not be sure you were getting the right story about turtles from elsewhere. If you look up turtle love on the internet you would surely begin to doubt your turtle hate and that could lead to being cast out of the turtle haters club. Jimmy didn’t want to be cast out of turtle haters club because he believed that by being a turtle hater that one day after he died he would get a HUGE reward for being true to his covenant to hate turtles.
You see, when Jimmy was pretty young, he had promised to follow the club of turtle hate, it was a choice he made when he was old enough, he remembered how pleased his parents where when he made that promise. Each week he would reinforce his promise to hate turtles. It was part of the ritual.
Jimmy just kept staring at the link to the web page on his computer. He had been researching the history of turtle haters club when the link popped up. He could tell from the web address that the link wasn’t ‘club approved.’ Inside his need to learn and know was in combat with his fear of clicking on the link and all the things that might happen if he did so. In turtle haters club he had been taught this inner turmoil was a sure sign of something bad and that meant you shouldn’t be doing it. Jimmy felt bad just looking at the link. His mouse hovering over it, pausing, thinking, finally Jimmy forced himself to go to turtlehaters.com instead. Where he read stories of how wonderful it was to be part of the club and how right it was to hate those slimly slow things. Whew! The turmoil inside subsided and he felt right again.
Then one day Jimmy was looking at some old history books of the turtle haters club and researching about how it began (so he could teach his lessons in turtle haters class next week.) He stumbled on some information that surprised him. In turtle haters club there was always a bit of rumor about turtle lovers and the lies they would tell about turtle haters to make them not believe in turtle hate anymore. Turtle lovers seemed to focus on turtle hater history a lot. It was like they had nothing better to do than poke at people that hated turtles and all the errors of turtle haters in the world. The thing that struck Jimmy though was this bit of history he just found agreed with the evil turtle lovers, not what he was taught and had been teaching to turtle haters every week. For Jimmy this caused a bit of doubt in his mind about turtle hating. But instead of letting it take root, he did what all the leaders of turtles haters club told him to do. Put the doubt aside and focus on your hate of turtles.
Try as he might though. Jimmy couldn’t set it completely aside. One reason was Jimmy had a really good friend that he knew was a turtle lover. Karen was her name. Jimmy had even invited Karen to turtle haters club with him, hoping to share what he knew about turtles and let her experience life as part of the club. Karen told him that it was a nice club full of great people, but turtle hating just wasn’t for her. This made Jimmy sad, but they stayed friends anyway and just didn’t talk much about turtles.
Deep down, Jimmy knew that Karen was a good person, he also believed all good people would eventually hate turtles because that is what the leaders of the turtle haters club taught and they were the experts in turtology, else why were they the leaders? So this began to bother Jimmy. He knew he hated turtles, it was part of who he was, it had been so his whole life, but why he kept asking himself. Why were there good nice people that loved turtles? It just didn’t make sense.
Jimmy loved the internet, there was so much to learn there. He knew that it wasn’t always right but had found that he could often search out multiple opinions different viewpoints of a topic and eventually determine if he was getting an accurate picture or not. While jimmy avoided the evil turtle lover sites and things that were not good on the internet he did go there often. Simply because he loved to learn. Then it happened again, after doing a search up popped a link to “the truth about turtles” He was scared again, but he wondered, maybe just maybe he didn’t know all about turtle history like he thought he did… This time curiosity overcame fear and Jimmy clicked.
For a while it was as if Jimmy was being flooded with information. Turtles do this and turtles do that. So much that was so different that he had been taught in turtle haters club. Sure Jimmy knew it wasn’t all true information, for example there was that guy that talked about flying turtles, now that was pretty far fetched. But there was a lot Jimmy found in the history of turtle haters club wasn’t as clean and straight forward as he had previously thought. He knew the people that started the club were human and expected some mistakes, but some of these things he learned, well they just weren’t nice people. Jimmy didn’t take everything he learned about turtle love as gospel though. He did what he always did, checking multiple sources and comparing results.
Jimmy began to worry because the more he studied the more he began to doubt the turtle haters club. In fact Jimmy was beginning to realize that he might even …. love …. turtles. This was so bad, if he loved turtles he knew that his mom and dad would be heart broken. They had been turtle haters their whole lives and the loved being in that club. Plus Jimmy worried about life after death too. He would lose his reward if he doubted and began loving turtles. It was so confusing, Jimmy didn’t know what to do. The turtle lovers club had a place on the internet, a place the called recovery from turtle hate, you didn’t have to say who you were there and that made it less scary to discuss the love of turtles and how hating turtles just didn’t seem right. Jimmy began going there. After a while a life of turtle loving didn’t seem too bad. But the fear, the fear of how his parents would take it petrified Jimmy. He realized he no longer hated turtles in fact he loved them, but to tell his parents and family and community that scared him.
Another thing began to eat at Jimmy, that was the history. Now that Jimmy had become very well read on the subject of turtles he realized that much of the information that the turtle haters club said about turtles was simple propaganda, it was half true information that kept people believing in turtle hate. That bothered Jimmy a lot because he was sure he now knew the truth about turtles and he wanted others to know too. For him to say it publicly though, well Jimmy knew he would be branded a ‘turtle lover’ by the turtle haters club. All turtle lovers hated turtle haters, according to the books of the turtle hater club. This was another thing that bugged Jimmy, he didn’t hate turtle haters at all, he just wanted to share information about turtles in general. It was still all so confusing.
One day Jimmy was talking to Karen and he told her about his research on turtles. Karen smiled and listened, nodding as he spoke. Eventually Jimmy spilled his guts to his friend. As he did so he began to realize that Karen already knew the truth about turtles and finally asked her why she didn’t say something, especially when Jimmy had invited her to turtle haters club. Karen smiled and said, I knew it wasn’t right to hate turtles, but you seemed so happy in that club and I didn’t want to upset that. Wow thought Jimmy, what a good friend.
Jimmy had been going to turtle haters club all during this time that he was finding out these things, he kept telling himself that he wanted to be part of the club and not let it go, but eventually he realized that he couldn’t deny the fact any longer, he no longer hated turtles and that was that. It wasn’t honest to keep pretending he did. So Jimmy made a decision, he was going to be public about his love of turtles and let the chips fall where they may. He was scared, but he knew he had at least one friend that understood.
Jimmy told everyone he no longer hated turtles and why. He put it out there for everyone to see. At first many turtle haters challenged him, told him they knew they were right to hate turtles and he was wrong to love turtles but was welcome back the the club any time. Jimmy felt a need to get the truth about turtles out there so others could see that the history of the turtle haters club was full of propaganda. For this he was derided as an evil turtle lover.
Eventually things began to settle down, Jimmy was right about his parents they were devastated. They felt like they had screwed up and not raised Jimmy properly but they still professed to love him anyway. Jimmy felt like they did love him even though he didn’t hate turtles anymore. But they couldn’t have deep talks about turtle hate now because Jimmy just didn’t agree with that point of view.
It was kinda rough on Jimmy to not talk about his new love of turtles when he visited family, but that was the only way to keep things civil. For the house he was raised in was a house of turtle hate no doubt about it and Jimmy was expected to respect that belief while there. Bringing up turtle love was NOT welcome when Jimmy visited his parents home.
Since Jimmy loved turtles he began looking for others that did as well, he felt accepted there amongst peers that had found a love of turtles, especially from those that had once been turtle haters too. They understood his journey and had experienced similar things.
Jimmy realized that people group together around common things and turtle loving was just as good a reason for any for a group to form. He couldn’t be a turtle hater anymore and go back to his old life. Since turtle hate was so important to his family he just didn’t feel so welcome there anymore, not that he didn’t love his family or they love him. They were simply on different paths. Jimmy wished his family would one day look up the truth about turtles so they would understand why he felt the need to speak out against turtle hate and the club that promoted it, but he knew that he couldn’t force that to happen. He’d had to discover it on his own. So he had to be like his friend Karen had been to him. Be happy that they were happy in their club even if he knew better.
On the plus side Jimmy had found a whole new set of friends and they brought him much happiness and joy because he didn’t have to pretend around them. He could think and be himself, no need to conform and promote the hate of turtles anymore. It was great being true to himself and not having to be someone he was not. Jimmy found out that there were many different types of people when it came to turtle hating, some just went to be part of the club and didn’t really hate like you were supposed to. Some went just for family and some were true turtle haters deep down inside. For the most part only the true turtle haters made Jimmy feel uncomfortable around them. (probably because they didn’t pass up a a chance to declare their hate of turtles openly) and that just kind of bothered Jimmy but the others weren’t so desirous to hate turtles and even made the occasional comment about how turtle loving had its good points. Jimmy didn’t feel rejected by them at all.
In the long run Jimmy realized that the most important thing was to be himself, if he loved turtles that was ok. Those around him could accept or reject that. If he was honest though his brain didn’t hurt trying to make himself be something he was not. It was a better way to live. Sure it meant that there would be people, family even, in his life that would hate his love of turtles, but that was that. Turtle lovers and turtle haters he realized could get along. They just couldn’t be close friends that talked about turtles. It wasn’t turtle love that was the problem. It was turtle hate.
So for Jimmy the end of the journey was bittersweet, happy to find true friendship, sad to find that what he’d thought was friendship was contingent on his membership in the turtle haters club. It was the most heart wrenching, thought provoking journey of his life, filled with tears of sadness and joy. All for the love of turtles.