“Funny name for a snail,” they always respond, when I tell them my name. “Ironic, is it?”
See, the thing is, everyone thinks that snails are slow. We’re not – mostly, we just like to be careful. We can move quickly if we want, but it’s pretty risky when you’ve got your entire life on your back, so we take our time. That way we can make sure everything stays in one piece. Slugs, though, they’ve got no excuse. Maybe they’re just too lazy to move any faster. If I was a slug, I’d be taking full advantage of not having a shell to lug about.
When I was a kid, I loved speed. Mum had real trouble trying to get me to slow down. I even broke my shell a couple of times. The first time, I was sliding down a drainpipe and hit a rock. That wasn’t too bad, just a little chip. But the second time… I was gliding around a puddle that had iced over with my friend Max. Coasted right off the puddle and fell over a branch lying next to it. Cracked my shell in two places. The doctors weren’t sure if I’d ever fully recover – for a while they thought I’d have to have my shell removed completely, and mum was distraught. You see, a snail without a shell is pretty vulnerable, because the shell protects us from predators and stuff. Luckily it healed OK in the end. I was young, so I think that helped. I still have scars on my shell where the cracks were, but other than that I’m right as rain. After that, I pretty much got the message that I needed to slow down and take better care of myself, but I still miss zooming along in my trail, feeling the wind on my face. There’s nothing like it. I used to think about jacking it all in and joining the local sprint derby, but I’ve got the kids to think about now, so it wouldn’t be fair to take unnecessary risks.
I consider explaining all this to the inquisitive insect sitting opposite me – my misadventures as a youngster that had earned me my peculiar nickname – but decided against it; too long a story.
“Yes,” I reply, “It’s ironic.”
I smile, he laughs, and the conversation moves on.