Times of the Islands - - Nature’s Notebook -

If the Grinch had a twin brother, he would be the Sin­is­ter Stooper. He has no re­gard for the pure art of shelling, only in de­ceit, de­cep­tion and, ah, de- shelling. He thrills in tar­get­ing in­ex­pe­ri­enced shellers in or­der to turn their joy­ous in­ter­ac­tion with na­ture into crush­ing dis­ap­point­ment.

His meth­ods vary, but al­ways with the same goal. You will find him ty­ing string or thread to a rare shell, just to yank it out of reach when an un­sus­pect­ing vic­tim ap­proaches.

Or he’ll dab vi­brant color with a marker or paint on a drab shell, know­ing it will catch the eye of an am­a­teur, whose de­light will be dashed when he re­al­izes it’s a fake. The treach­ery reaches a high ( or low) art form with his patented

what- the- shell dis­cov­ery. While shuf­fling through the sand, he sud­denly be­comes trans­fixed on a shell and ap­pears pos­i­tively par­a­lyzed with amaze­ment. With typ­i­cal over- the- top drama, he ex­tends a shaky hand to­wards the ob­ject and breath­lessly brings it up to his face, now flush with ex­cite­ment.

What fol­lows can be de­scribed as a dizzy­ing dance in deliri­ous de­light as he loudly pro­claims his ex­tra­or­di­nary find in ut­ter­ances usu­ally re­served to more in­ti­mate sit­u­a­tions.

Nat­u­rally, the per­for­mance quickly draws a cu­ri­ous crowd. He raises his hand up slowly to draw at­ten­tion and re­veals: It’s just an­other shell. He feigns as­ton­ish­ment.

“I could have sworn it was the rare …” he says, his quiv­er­ing voice trail­ing off.

As the dis­ap­pointed shellers dis­perse, they in­vari­ably hear a muf­fled evil chuckle waft­ing in the breeze.

Per­haps his heart is just the size of a baby olive— a type of tiny seashell.

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