Tarquin is a turtle. He and his friends, Tommy and Stubby, are hanging out under a tree by the schoolyard. They are smoking and watching the rabbits and the kangaroos play a game of baseball.
“Look at those rabbits and kangaroos, hopping around. They look like idiots.” Tommy says.
Tarquin just watches them and sees a kangaroo hit the ball. SMACK, they hear, as the ball goes out into the field.
“I want to play baseball.” Tarquin says.
Tommy snorts. “That’s stupid. Turtles don’t play baseball.”
Stubby, looking at Tommy for approval, just guffaws.
“Yes, I can.” Tarquin disputes.
“What makes you think you can play baseball, have you ever done it before?” asked Tommy.
“No, but if I don’t start, I’ll never know. Besides, I want to do more than stand around a tree.”
Tarquin decides to walk over to the schoolyard, approach Coach Chuck Woodville and ask if he can play.
“What can I do for you son?” coach Chuck says with a big happy smile.
“I want to play baseball.” Tarquin says.
Coach Chuck then purses his lips together and says, “Son, turtles don’t play baseball.” “
“Well, how do you know? Have you ever given a turtle a chance?”
Coach Chuck shuffles his feet for a moment and then says, “Alright. I’ll give you a chance and see how you do.”
Tarquin is so excited that he even does a little jump. He goes home and tells his mom and dad, who seem disinterested. His mom and dad just sit there and watch Wild Adventures on TV.
Tarquin goes to his room, which is decorated with Ninja Turtle posters and monster trucks and plays with sticks, balls and hoses.
Tarquin’s mom would come in and tell him to do his homework. Although slow, Tarquin was smart, he actually was good at Math and Science and could make a mean dirt hill.
The next day, Tarquin started practicing with the team. He looks back over at Tommy and Stubby, thinking they would be happy for him.
“You’re an idiot like them rest of them.” Tommy says, “Wait, you’re even a worse idiot because you can’t even hop.”
“Shut up, you’re just jealous. I want something more exciting. I just don’t’ just want to sit and watch. I want to play too.” Tarquin replied.
Tarquin is glad to be part of the team, but he when he goes to bat, all he hears is whoosh as the ball passes by him.
Dejected, Tarquin scuffles back to the pit. After a couple of days of watching him, Coach Chuck approaches Tarquin and says, “Son, I don’t think you’re getting this. Why don’t you try swimming? That seems more like your element.”
Disappointed, Tarquin packs up his gear and heads home. As he passes by, he looks over at Tommy, Stubby and a new turtle. “What? They throw you off because you’re such a misfit?” Tommy taunts.
“At least I tried. Coach Chuck said I should try out for the swim team instead.”
“Why are you doing this?” Stubby asks.
“Don’t you ever get bored just smoking under a tree? Tarquin replied. “Haven’t you wanted to be more. I mean, why not?”
“Because we’re turtles.” Stubby said.
“Yeah, but even turtles can swim. I think I’m gonna give it a try.” Tarquin heads home, where his mother is just sitting there watching TV.
“Hi honey, do me a favor would’ya?”
“What?” Tarquin says snottily.
“Don’t use that tone with me. Go get me some leafs and insects.”
“”Do you ever do anything else but watch TV?”
“What am I going to do, run the races? I’m old. Now go get me some insects and go do your homework. And take out the trash too.”
“What would you do if I weren’t here?”
Then Tarquin huffily ambulates into the kitchen, gets his mother her bugs and leafs from the plants and some grub for himself, gives it to her. He takes out the trash, then goes to his room, eats and does his homework.
After school the next day, Tarquin ran, well running for a turtle, over to the pool and asked Coach Crab if he could join.
“I don’t know Tarquin.” Says Coach Crab.
“I’ll give it my best shot coach.” Tarquin said.
Coach saw a gleam in Tarquin’s eyes, a gleam that says he had the drive to win.
Tarquin jumped in the pool and loved it. He swam his heart out. Even Coach Crab commented, “Tarquin, you are a pretty good swimmer. You just might make it.”
Everyday after school, Tarquin came to practice and would even stay after the other kids had gone home.
SPLASH! The coach would hear as he was leaving.
“Tarquin, go home, get some rest.” Coach Crab would say.
“I don’t want to go home coach. It’s more fun here.”
“But I can’t leave you and I want to go home. Now get going.” The Coach urged.
Tarquin liked Coach Crab even though he was crabby.
Tarquin would go home, eat, do his homework and go to bed, but he started getting restless and started fighting with his mom and dad.
“What’s gotten into you? Is it that Tommy and Stubby?” His mom would ask.
“No, I don’t event talk to them anymore.”
“It’s just a phase.” His dad would say.
“I want more out of life than watching TV and settling for slowness. I want to be good at something, something that will take me far from this place.”
“Is it so bad here?” His dad asked.
“No, it’s not here as in this place, it’s here, as in this state of mind. I want to break out of my shell and swimming lets me do that.”
Tarquin practiced a little more each day and got better and even made it to championships at Marshes Marsh out in Greenway Springs. It’s where all the turtles who were something went.
Tarquin got to go to finals. He told his mom and dad, and although they said, “that’s nice honey,” they didn’t seem too interested.
But the night of the big meet out in the Greenway Marsh, Tarquin pleaded with his mom to come, but she didn’t. Tarquin’s parents loved him and made sure he had a good home, but seemed to be more interested in watching television. Perhaps it is because when the TV is on, she doesn’t have to hear herself think and remember her own broken dreams.
Everyone was there: the Ontario Otters, The Pennsylvania Platypus and the California Crocodiles. Tarquin’s team was up.
“Just do your best. You’re not only competing with the other team, you’re competing with yourself.”
Dreyfus, a bulky turtle from the banks, started the match. Tarquin was second, and Fizzer, so named because he farted when he swam, was third. “Bang!” went the gun. Dreyfus got the lead, got to the other side, and swoosh, off went Tarquin, swimming his heart out. He made it to the other side and Bam! – Fizzer jumped into the water to complete the lap. In record time, they made it across and won. Even coach Crab let out a little smile, at least Tarquin thought it was a smile, because Coach’s lip twitched up.
After the match, Tarquin and his new buddies laughed all the way home. Tarquin saw Tommy and Stubby by the tree, and waved, but they just ignored him. Tarquin was hurt, but knew he wanted more than standing by a tree.
Tarquin showed his medal to his mother and father, who were just sitting there, watching TV.
“Isn’t that great?” His mother said. “Dell, look at Tarquin’s medal.”