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The Observer was in our car listening to the radio when a song by rapper Warren G came on. We first thought it was his “Regulate,” with such soothing lyrics as “Sixteen in the clip and one in the hole, Nate Dogg is about to make some bodies turn cold/Now they droppin’ and yellin’; It’s a tad bit late/Nate Dogg and Warren G had to regulate.” And stuff about letting his gat explode. But while it was Warren G, it wasn’t “Regulate.” Instead, he launched into a cheesy 1980s love song — “I Keep Forgetting” by Michael McDonald. And how does it go? “Every time I see your smile/Give you a hello, can you stay a while/Heaven knows it time for you to say the things/We both know are true/But darling I keep forgettin’/We’re not in love anymore.” Then he lets his gat explode, guess. Keeps us guessing at least. We are naive when it comes to all the ways people use to make a living. For example, The Observer recently ran into an older man who, when asked, said he was a farmer, but laughed. Why laugh about being a farmer? Because, he said, he’s in the business of raising alligator snapping turtles. It should be noted that not a lot of people are allowed to raise snappers. Only a few folks have permits, grandfathered in after the state Game and Fish Commission decided the species was in trouble and quit issuing them. It’s hard to think of these ancient, slow moving, huge-growing, primeval reptiles the same way one thinks of, say, Rhode Island reds. But Harold Randleas, from over in Brasfield, raises baby snappers for sale to Asian markets. How do you farm a turtle? you might ask. The way Randleas does it is he puts them in a fenced area that’s mostly pond and goes to the house until baby turtles appear. Unless they’re laying their eggs in the soft dirt around the pond, the turtles mostly stay in the water. They’ll get out during an electrical storm, too — it’s something to see 1,000 snappers surface and lumber to the bank during a storm, Randleas said. Some of his buyers raise them as pets, and say they have a secret way to make them grow large really quickly. Randleas doesn’t know his buyers’ secret; they grow pretty slow in nature. But they keep growing, until they’re the largest turtles in North America. Randleas figures some of his turtles are older than he is, maybe up to 100 years old, and some weigh around 100 pounds. He’s got a thousand “breeders” — females — all together, but just a dozen males. He’d like a few more boys. They’re the ones with longer tales and less shell around the tail, in case you’re wondering. The Observer, being a parent, takes offense at signs in stores that indicate that children will not be tolerated. There’s something about the tone of most of these messages, as if the proprietor knows your hellion personally and is appalled at how inconsiderate you are to even approach the door of his establishment with the two-legged wrecking ball in tow. Shove off, they seem to say. So it was with great glee that The Observer, visiting a booth at the antique book fair last weekend in Jacksonville, saw this sign: Unattended children will be given a free kitten. Slightly ambiguous at first, and all the more clever for it. Polite. We approved and told the collector running the booth so. She smiled and said parents often send their children her way to read the books, which aren’t, unfortunately, for children. Her first edition of Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” for example, was priced at $12,000. It was also in Jacksonville that The Observer, as a child, broke a china doll. It was our grandmother’s, and we promised that if we could play with it we’d be careful. She should have just given us a kitten instead. They don’t break, and they do make you pay.
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