Last week, Lonesome George, the last surviving Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni, known as the Pinta Island Tortoise, died.
And, as these things will, a copy of what appears to be Lonesome George's will arrived at my door, cash on delivery, in a box filled with those little pieces of Styrofoam that get all over the kitchen and stick to everything – although nothing in the box was remotely fragile.
I have reproduced the document in its entirety here.
I, Lonesome George, a citizen of Pinta Island, Ecuador, being of sound mind, do hereby make, publish and declare this instrument to be my last will and testament, hereby revoking any and all wills and codicils by me at any time heretofore made. I die the last of my species, and I wish to acknowledge all of the care, goodwill and support you gangly, squishy man-things have provided to me over the years. But – and I've rather been looking forward to telling you this – it is entirely misplaced.
I am a very bad tortoise. The last, and worst, of a long line of bad tortoises. And my only regret is that I never succeeded in biting the hand off of any of the unarmoured, fleshy morons who provided me round-the-clock care.
To the numerous, distinguished herpetologists whose herculean efforts to get me to procreate have amused me for years: Thanks for all the hot tortoise babes. I leave you absolutely nothing. Certainly not any of my own tortoise spawn. My only regret at not producing more of my own wretched kind is that I will not be able to show up late and drunk to their piano recitals. Thanks anyway, bros.
Oh wait, I changed my mind: You guys are hereby bequeathed my extensive collection of disgusting and degrading tortoise pornography, which I have distributed in your respective sock drawers where your wives, and or children, should be finding it right about … now!
To the dedicated conservationist who worked tirelessly to rid the island of the invasive goats who rapidly ate my natural habitat: You took my goats! I loved those goats! I loved those goats almost as much as I loved those whalers! Before the whalers came, the island was crawling with awful, awful tortoises! They were everywhere! I couldn't even find two parking spaces to take up with my Lexus.
It's a great car. You're not getting it. You took my goats! I was going to make artisanal cheese! Just so I could say "artisanal" all the time. I bet you didn't even know my utterly irredeemable subspecies could speak.
But oh, yes, we talked. Mostly during movies, the plots of which we always had to inquire about, mainly because we got up every 15 minutes to buy more nachos to crunch on loudly. And even though we had no fingers, we put a full one-quarter of everything we said in "air quotes," which meant that a lot of the time you couldn't see the movie either.
Outside of movies, we mostly just hummed tunelessly under our smelly breath and left each other passive-aggressive notes referring to our "space" and ending with the words "Just sayin'. "
So, goat-stealing conservationists, check your backyards. I leave you – goats! And a highly invasive species of snake that eats everything. Well, everything except goats.
Once, there were thousands of my kind on the Pinta Islands, all going into one another's fridges and taking a bite of a lettuce and then putting it back again. But by the early 20th century our numbers had dropped to around 900, all of whom wanted you to "Like" their author pages on Facebook (which we invented).
That's when I built a dock and put up a large "Welcome Whalers!" sign. I even printed up some recipe cards and taped them to my neighbours' shells. But still there were tortoises.
There were tortoises stopping to pet your dog, but only so they could talk about their dog for 20 minutes – always when you were late to tip some other tortoise sucker on his back on the far side of the island.
And there were tortoises having more tortoises, and then they started blogging about their eggs, and after the blogs I strangled the remaining 30 of my kind myself.
I know what you're thinking, you witless, shell-less endothermic goat-rustlers: "I bet that took a long time." But actually we were a very fast species. We just chose to walk really slowly, and always three abreast on a city sidewalk.
And I hereby bequeath my vast fortune, most of it in pirate gold, elephant ivory and Monsanto stock, to the international whaling lobby.