Crack. I’ve stepped on a snail. I really try to avoid this, but accidents happen. I feel guilty because I like snails. I’ve always liked snails. When I was a kid I kept them as pets sometimes. I drove librarians nuts asking for books about snails, and I was disappointed in the lack of attention given to snails on the shows I watched, except for this one short Sesame Street cartoon:
Sesame Street was supposed to be educational so it bugged me when they tried to pass off blatantly false information. And I knew almost everything about this short snail poem was wrong:
At least the last part about a snail not having to go back was correct based on my observations: snails would venture a long way from where they started and wouldn’t necessarily go back.
The problem is snails don’t carry their homes on their backs. One of the reasons they come out when it’s raining is because the nooks and crannies and little holes where they live get flooded. That shell is not a home. It’s a protective cover and part of their bodies. Snails must look at us and say, “Wait, your shell is inside your body? Under your skin? That’s weird.” Or at least they would if they looked at us and thought about us. I can’t fault Sesame Street for passing taffy when I’m anthropomorphizing snails.
Another thing I learned about snails just by watching is that if you put two in a terrarium sooner or later they’ll start riding around on each others’ shells, and then you’ll have a cluster of tiny pearlescent eggs in a little hole in the dirt.
Later very patient librarian would find me a book and I’d read that snails are hermaphrodites. This didn’t really bother me, and I even thought it would make life easier if humans were too. On fine sunny days when couples went out for a trek at the end of the date they’d both pick up the check.