Desert tortoises and laundry don’t mix. (Geronimo update!)

Geronimo is so ridiculously cute and sweet. That’s good for him, because he raised hell in the laundry room on Sunday. I’m not exaggerating. I wish I’d taken pics. Just when you thought that a tortoise is the most placid creature to walk the earth, you get one. Our little “dinosaur of the desert” went Jurassic up in that laundry room.

 

So innocent.

 

We don’t usually allow Geronimo into the laundry room because there’s a lot of stuff he can get into in there, but I was running in and out trying to get through the laundry in a hurry because I was also writing… so I thought, why not. As long as I’m here, he can’t get into trouble.

Everything was fine, except that he kept getting between my feet as he tried to push his way between me and the washing machine, causing me to stumble and almost trip as I wanted to avoid stepping on him. When he wasn’t between my feet, he was repeatedly folding the large rug back from the corner – or, more accurately, he was bulldozing it back – because he wanted to sit on the tile beneath it.

The next time I went out to the laundry room, he came with me again and fitted himself into the corner of the bottom shelf of the bookcase we have in there. I turned my back for one minute when I went to the side yard to shake the dust from the dryer’s lint trap. When I got back to the laundry room, Geronimo had ripped the shelf’s contact paper lining to jagged shreds.

Because I live my life in the hindsight zone, I decided to leave him in the laundry room when I went back into the house that time. It’ll only take 10-15 minutes to put away this load of clean clothes, I thought, and then I’ll come back to check on him. He just seems so happy in the laundry room! If the worst thing he can do is tear up some contact paper, I can live with that.

I was in the bedroom folding the clean laundry when I heard a clanging commotion outside. It sounded like someone had thrown a T.V. into a metal dumpster. It sounded like it might have come from behind our back fence, as our “alley” is an apartment complex parking lot, and we sometimes hear people throwing heavy things into the dumpster back there. I resisted the urge to run to the laundry room to make sure it wasn’t Geronimo. It can’t be him, I thought. How could he make such a racket? He’s a tortoise. Someone threw an appliance or an armful of pots and pans into the metal dumpster, that’s all.  

When I went back to the laundry room, I found that hurricane Geronimo had struck. The laundry room was trashed. The narrow, spindly metal shelving rack we used to hold rags and garden tools and cables had fallen. On the way down, it caught onto the metal post of the table next to it. The half-fallen rack obstructed the middle of the room; not only was it too tall to land flat on the floor, but it was dangling from the metal table post. It hovered above the floor at an angle, festooned with towels and one of its shelves swinging free.

After some searching, I identified Geronimo sitting in the middle of the havoc he’d wreaked, directly, to my horror, beneath the gigantic pair of gardening shears (with long, pointy Edward Scissorhands blades) that balanced precariously from the juncture of the rack and the table post. The shears were tangled up with coils of cables and cords, a loaded tool-belt, a length of extension cord, and whateverthehell else we had hanging up there. Oblivious to the danger he was in, Geronimo held down his spot, which was, no doubt, exactly the spot he wanted to be in. He’d achieved his goal. All he had to do was simulate a catastrophic natural disaster.

All I wanted to do was get Geronimo out of harm’s way and make sure that he was okay.

To achieve my goal, I had to perform a Cirque du Soleil contortion sequence in order to carefully extricate the Edward Scissorhands shears from the table and the rack so I could remove the rack without the shears falling onto Geronimo, who was still sitting in his spot, not moving, probably because he was plotting his next big move.

With the metal rack balanced on my right shoulder and my feet planted in a leaning horse stance, my right foot braced against the door’s threshold, I managed to grasp the shears with my left hand, twisting my upper body to settle the contraption of metal shelving more on my back so I could transfer the shears to my right hand and toss them out the door. Then I had to remove the whole rack, which was also a feat because it’s so tall, and it was jammed across the width of the room between the wall and the shelving on the opposite side. Geronimo had pushed himself up against the rack’s forward-most back feet. I had to extricate the rack without hitting him. I managed to lift and maneuver the rack backwards out of the room, carry it to the side of the yard that he can’t reach, and throw the whole thing over the cinder-block barrier, towels, cables, tool belt, and all.

I returned to the laundry room. Geronimo was still sitting in his spot, camouflaged in the rubble, surrounded by towels, bottles of laundry detergent, the heavy box of motar, an empty metal bucket and a metal wastepaper basket (so much metal!), the tools and the cords and the so on and so forth. I checked him thoroughly and found no damage to his shell, which is probably made of Kevlar. “That’s it,” I said. “You’re done in here.” Even though it was my fault for leaving him unattended. Who knew that our gentle little Stegosaurus was going to pull a T-Rex and storm the laundry room? I picked him up and carried him out. He huffed and puffed in annoyance at being evicted, and when I set him down on the patio, he literally stomped off to his burrow, as if I’d sent him to his room without dinner.

I left the laundry room exactly as it was, so Callaghan could see what our prehistoric child of the desert did while he was gone.

Seriously, guys. I’ve had various combinations of dogs and cats most of my life, and I’ve never seen dogs or cats cause this sort of destruction.

Geronimo loves the laundry room. When we couldn’t find him yesterday afternoon, we split up and combed the entire yard, and then we noticed that the laundry room door was open. It’d been closed, though! We went in and found Geronimo sound asleep, tucked away behind a tall 30-roll pack of jumbo Charmin toilet paper rolls. The door had been closed, but I must have neglected to pull it all the way until it clicked. He’d pushed it open. I can’t get over his strength!

I think my next minimalism project is going to be the laundry room.

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