So a snail won a race in the city of Oldenburg, Germany, in an event to promote the city’s international film festival and why they thought that would be a good way to promote a film festival is beyond me. If they had an auto race or something like that then it would make sense because they could tie it in with the “Look at that S-car go” joke, but then here I am talking about it so I guess it’s working. The snail that won the race is named Speedy Gonzales and the prize was a head of lettuce, so there’s a snail who can really get a head. The entire track was 33 centimeters which Herr Gonzales covered in three minutes and twenty-eight seconds, and that comes out to about 9.5 centimeters per minute which is a pretty good clip for a snail.
I love snails. I’ve always loved snails. When I was a kid I put snails in jars, mostly because it’s really cool to watch them climb glass, but I’d also put some dirt and leaves and sticks in there, building them a little home, and sometimes I’d put two snails in there together and, being hermaphrodites, it wasn’t long before there was a cluster of pearly little eggs in tucked in one side of the jar which I’d carefully place outside, which fortunately our neighbor who was growing lettuce in his backyard never found out about.
In fifth grade I even made a pretty big terrarium with snails and some lichens and moss and a local sedum called star plants or widow’s cross for a class science project, which was a fun thing to carry on the bus, and if you think I got beaten up for that you’d be wrong. In fifth grade I had a really cool teacher who encouraged an interest in science and all the kids were into it and I didn’t get beaten up until the sixth grade when everybody started hitting puberty and I had teachers who mostly encouraged us to leave them alone so they could sneak off to the lounge for a drink, but that’s another story.
The snail race also reminded me of an event that always ended summer camp: the Critter Crawl. Any animal we caught during camp could be entered. The counselors would then draw a ten foot circle on the ground and all the critters would be put in the middle and let go. The trick was that to win your critter had to cross the finish line then you had to catch it and be the first to bring it to the judges, which made snakes and turtles popular choices because they could move at a pretty good rate and were also easy to catch. The kid who thought he was sure to win because he’d caught a damn squirrel was stunned when his contestant disappeared into the woods. That same year I had a turtle who came in third place.
I never did try entering a snail, but then I never had one like Speedy Gonzales.