You want to know what this boils down to? We’re ugly. And we admit it. We are ugly motherfuckers, but you know what? That should not make us dispensable. Yet somehow it does, as if our antennae and slime and barf-colored bodies render us a thing unworthy of this world. Why? Is it because we don’t have eyes or ears? Is it because we eat your lettuce? Or maybe it’s because our shells aren’t as pretty as seashells, aren’t the type of shells you can put your ear to and hear the ocean with.
The irony is that some of your own kind are hideous. Some of you are heinous beyond appearances, rotten on the inside, corrupted in the mind. But a snail’s mind is always pure. There is no evil in us, no malevolence among our ranks. Yet you accept those of your kind with repulsive deficiencies, and we, the pure-minded and good-hearted, are left literally out in the dust, stepped on, picked up and tossed, flicked, poured salt upon, cracked, smacked, smashed, caught, and–by the particularly heinous among you–eaten. In a world with such delicacies as filet mignon, sea bass, lamb shank and veal, the truly sick among you scour their gardens and pick us like ripe fruit from stems and branches.
Here’s a story. Last week I was basking in the California sun, eating lettuce. The sun was high, summer air warm and the morning infinite. That is, it was infinite until a mother and her two-year-old daughter found me and my tribe (apparently my cousin Gerald’s antennae were whipping about just above the surface of the garden plants) and decided like genocidal maniacs to pick us up one by one and do with us what they please. I saw good men and women die that day. They were annihilated before my eyes, their shells crushed, bodies eviscerated and tossed. The two-year-old girl was particularly psychopathic. While her mother wasn’t looking she took a small magnifying glass and harnessed the power of the sun to cook my brother Peter alive.
I am not trying to disgust or repulse or even guilt you. This is an appeal to your common sense. We are alive. We have families and ambitions and responsibilities and preferences, and we enjoy and dislike things, just as you do. We would prefer not to be obliterated. Please grant us the liberty rightfully belonging to all living things on earth. Treat us with dignity. Accept our ugliness for what it is: beautiful. Learn about us. Know that we too have kidneys and stomachs and livers and hearts, and just like you these things are concealed inside us.
Imagine: one day a foreign race descends upon the earth and decimates your species, obliterates your loved ones, cooks your cousin Steve while he hopelessly allows it to happen and you hopelessly watch.
Let us attempt to avoid this fate in solidarity, so when or if the day arrives when the galactic maniacs invade us, we will be crawling at your feet, whipping our antennae to the sky, screaming: THOSE ARE OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS. YOU TAKE THEM YOU TAKE US TOO.
We love you. That is why we never bite you. All we ask is that you love us back.
Finally, two quick notes. First, we know we are slow. There seems to be a stigma against slowness. To this point, I suggest you consider this: perhaps it is you who are moving fast.
Secondly, we are often ridiculed for our cowardice. But we are not afraid. The reason we retreat so quickly into our shells whenever one of you comes near us is because this action is an instinct, which has been ingrained into our DNA for hundreds of millions of years. Even as it’s happening we feel shame.
For some, the lucky ones, bravery equates to freedom. For us, its absence is predetermined.
With love and respect from our craven hearts,
S__n_a___ i_____ l___ s___________________
Written at 1:26 at night, in my office, in Agoura Hills CA.