Now Clibby saw the creature for what it truly was -- a large turtle which was walking around the park with a pretty blond girl at his side. His friend, Clibby supposed. Of course, since there weren't many turtles at the fair today, many children and parents had crowded around him in order to get a better look. As Clibby stared in amazement, the gracious turtle shook their hands and posed for photo after photo. The turtle never spoke or blinked, but he certainly gestured a lot.
After a moment or two of standing amid the crowd and staring with her mouth agape, the turtle's pretty female friend smiled at Clibby and beckoned her over. Clibby tentatively walked over.
"Would you like to talk to Tubby Turtle Two?" the pretty girl asked in a very friendly voice.
Clibby was just about to blurt out an enthusiastic yes, when something occurred to her. "His name is Tubby Turtle Two?" she asked, looking up at the large green creature, who was busily waving to the crowd and giving hugs to little children.
"MMMhmmm," the girl replied, nodding her head with enthusiasm, causing her blond pony tail to wiggle furiously. "What's YOUR name?" she asked with great curiousity, pointing at Clibby.
"Clibby," Clibby replied. "Minter," she added.
"Hi Libby Minter, I'm Sharon Minter!" the girl exclaimed with joyous surprise, crouching down so she could pay closer attention to the little girl.
"CLIBBY," Clibby corrected angrily. Why did no-one ever hear her name correctly?
"We have the same last name!" Sharon exclaimed. "Minter is a very strange last name, you know!"
"My brother's name is Danny Minter but he's a baby," Clibby explained disappointedly.
"I wonder if we're related?" Sharon mused, her voice sounding somewhat sincere for the first time that afternoon. "Where are your parents, Clibby?"
"Over there," Clibby said, pointing behind her to a group of about 700 people. Eager to switch the subject back to something interesting, Clibby inquired, "How come his name is Tubby Turtle Two?"
Sharon looked through the crowd to see if she recognized anyone in the vicinity, and replied in an abstracted way, "He is the second Tubby Turtle. The old one went away."
"Oh," Clibby replied sadly. "He died?"
Sharon looked back down at the little girl with concern. "No, no, he didn't die, he just had to go away somewhere because ... his skin ... got burnt."
"Our dog is called Sammy Two, because Sammy One died. Are you sure Tubby One didn't die? Oh, Sammy's name is Minter too, even though my parents didn't have her, we got to make it that because he's our pet," Clibby continued, her excitement and speed mounting. "We usually just call Sammy Two Sammy because now that Sammy One is dead he's the only Sammy around so it's okay, so if I died and my mom had another baby she'd probably name it Clibby Two but then after a few weeks she'd start calling it just Clibby, right?"
Sharon looked perplexed, though still fairly happy. She put her hand on Clibby's tiny shoulder, and said with a tiny giggle, "Calm down, Clibby. You're not going to die and your parents are not going to have any other children called Clibby."
"But if it happened to Tubby and Sammy..." Clibby protested, now looking quite upset.
"Turtles and dogs are different than people, and besides, Tubby didn't really die, he just ... changed," Sharon explained, with a smile and a shake of her pony tail. Sharon recalled the underlined note on the inside front cover of her Mascot Assistant Handbook: "A Mascot Assistant must never shatter the illusion that the Mascot he or she accompanies is a real creature." She nodded to herself.
"Sammy changed from an alive dog to a dead dog," Clibby said. Abruptly, she changed the subject. "If Tubby is your pet, how come his name isn't Tubby Minter?"
Grateful for the subject change, Sharon smiled and considered for a moment. "Well, because I thought the name Tubby Turtle was so nice that I decided not to change it," she explained triumphantly.
"Do all turtles have the last name Turtle?" Clibby asked.
Sharon pondered this for a second. "Yes, they do."
"How come?" Clibby asked.
"Wellll... that helps them remember that they are turtles," Sharon replied, immediately wishing she'd come up with something better.
"Turtles sometimes forget they are turtles?" Clibby asked incredulously.
"Uhhhh.... no, they don't anymore, because they just have to look at their name and they know `Oh, I'm a Turtle!'," Sharon replied, cursing her own stupidity.
"How did it work before?"
"Well, you see... The turtles were always walking around forgetting what kind of animals they were," Sharon explained, working furiously to make up new words at the same rate she spoke them, "So ... uhhhh ... they kept trying to fly, and swim, and give milk, and, um, finally everybody else just got sick of it and said, `Okay! From now on you guys are all going to be named Turtle! Maybe then you'll remember!' And, well, they did."
"How come people don't have the last name People?" Clibby asked.
"People have better memories than turtles. They can always remember that they are people. Sometimes they forget what their job is, though, so they make that their last name. For example, someone who mints money is called a Minter," Sharon explained, anxious to exit the bad neighbourhood that was her own imagination.
"What's mint money?"
"That means make money," Sharon said, nodding wisely.
"I don't make any money," Clibby said with some confusion.
"No, but someone did," Sharon said. "A long time ago, and then he had children and they used the same last name even though they did different things. And then one day some Minter gave birth to you, and some other Minter gave birth to me, and they called us Minter."
"That doesn't sound very fair to turtles," Clibby said. "How come turtles have to be what their last name says and people don't?"
"Well, you see, people are sort of, well, they're basically more complicated than turtles, and so_" "Why is his name `Tubby'?" Clibby interrupted.
Sharon smiled, and reached up to pat Tubby's stomach. "He eats so much that he has a big, tubby tummy!" Tubby put his arms on his hips and looked down at Sharon in mock anger. Some nearby children giggled.
"But he couldn't have been all fat when he was born, because there's nothing to eat when he's inside his mom," Clibby pointed out.
"Well actually Tubby was born from an egg."
"But he wasn't tubby when he was born," Clibby insisted.
"No, he wasn't," Sharon admitted.
"So why did his parents name him Tubby?" Clibby asked, suspiciously.
"They thought... well, you see, they knew that eventually... well, actually, to tell the truth, Tubby is just a nickname that they started calling him after he started getting such a big tummy," Sharon said, floundering desparately.
"Oh.... that's not very nice," Clibby said, shaking her head scornfully.
"Well, no, it isn't ... Tubby's parents were quite mean."
"Yes, most turtles are quite nice, but Tubby's parents had a bit of a mean streak," Sharon said, unable to believe she was telling this to a 5-year-old girl. "They drank quite a bit."
"If Tubby doesn't like being called Tubby, why do you call him that?"
"Well, uh, you see, Tubby is trying to lose some weight, and he needs to be reminded not to eat so much, so he asked me to please call him Tubby until he loses some more weight."
"Oh.... What's Tubby's real name?"
"Oh, Tubby is really named, his real name, is, uh, Stan."
"What was Tubby Turtle One's real name?"
"Well, um, that was ... Stan ... ley."
"He was fat too?" Clibby asked.
"Yes, quite fat, all the children in Tubby's family are fat actually, it's not their fault, they've recently started exercising..." Sharon trailed off.
"So is everyone in Tubby's family nicknamed Tubby?"
Sharon took a gulp of air and dove into her reply with her eyes closed. "Yes, Tubby's cruel parents call every turtle in Tubby's family Tubby Turtle. And they keep harrassing them about their weight and their lack of motivation until the children start to cry... and that's when the beatings begin."
Clibby just stared in surprise.
Sharon sighed and decided she might as well take the plunge. "Tubby One was a mess even when he first started working with me here, and the crowds and the pressure didn't help. And, and, he started hanging around with a bad crowd, some bikers from out east, so Tubby, so, he got into crack pretty heavily, I love that turtle but I wasn't going to let him pimp me, and, so he had to prostitute himself to gay businessmen all night to get enough money so he could stay high all day at work, and, that's when he first started talking about the leprechauns--"
"CLIBBY!!! CLIBBY!!!" a franctic woman's voice was yelling in their general direction.
"MOMMY!" Clibby yelled as she raced in the direction of the voice. She soon spotted her mother, and grabbed her extended hand. She dragged her mother over to Tubby and Sharon.
"Mommy, this is Tubby, he's a turtle, this is Sharon, she's crazy."
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