04 IMG 0365What’s that signpost up ahead? Beware, you are about to cross over into the Valentine Zone. It’s the middle ground between light and shadow, science and superstition. It lies between the pit of man’s fears and women’s expectations. This is the dimension of sensitivity. A place where no man is safe from making a bumble-headed move in affairs of the heart.

As a public service to men everywhere, today’s stain on world literature will explain what love is. Gentlemen start your engines. As our Beloved Dear Leader might report: “Many people say that love is a hot-blooded emotion.” Au contraire, as our French friends would say love is best exemplified by the world’s greatest cold-blooded lover. I speak of the Casanova of Reptilian Love, the one, the only, Diego the Giant Tortoise of Amor. Diego was recently the subject of an admiring article in The New York Times written by Amee Ortiz. If Amee said it, I believe it and that settles it. Diego has recently retired as the King of Tortoise Love, which triggered The New York Times article.
Let us first consider Diego’s background to determine what made him such a superstar in the giant tortoise world. Diego was hatched around 1920 on the island of Espanola. At some point in the 1930s, he emigrated from Espanola to his current home in the Galapagos. Diego’s personal stats are impressive. When he extends his full length, he is almost 5 feet long and weighs over 175 pounds. That is a lot of giant tortoise. Despite Diego’s uncanny resemblance to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Lady Tortoise’s can’t get enough of Diego. Who says love is blind? Diego says so.

To misquote our old pal, Percy Bysshe Shelly in his poem “Ozymandias,” “Look upon Diego’s works, ye mighty warm-blooded mammals, and despair!” Diego is over 100 years old and a stud among studs. He had a way with the lady tortoises that resulted in saving his species from extinction. He was placed in a captive breeding program in the 1970s in the Galapagos Islands. When Diego signed up for romantic duty, there were only 14 giant tortoises of his tribe, the Chelonoidis hoodensis, on the island. The 14 giant tortoises consisted of 12 lady tortoises, Diego and another male with the uninspiring name of E5. Things were looking bleaker than the chance the Tar Heels would get into the NCAA tournament for the survival of the species until Diego rose to the occasion. When Diego had finished doing his thing in 2019, there were 2,000 giant tortoises on the island. These statistics demonstrate that baby giant tortoises are proof that male giant tortoises look good to female giant tortoises.

Through the giant tortoise equivalent of 23 & Me genetic testing, it turns out that Diego was responsible for 40% of the resulting baby giant tortoises. This does mean that his buddy, E5 was responsible for 60% of the new giant tortoises, but Diego gets all the publicity. Obviously, Diego has a much better press agent than E5 — as well as a much catchier name. Professor James Gibbs, head guru of giant tortoise Love Island, explained Diego’s fame, saying that “Diego has a big personality — quite aggressive, active and vocal in his mating habits, and so I think he has gotten most of the attention. But it clearly is the other quieter male that has had much more success. Maybe he prefers to mate more at night.”

Makes you wonder what sweet nothings Diego bellows in the ears of the lady tortoises. It also makes you wonder if tortoises have ears. Have you ever seen a giant tortoise’s ears? Not me. But apparently Diego knew where to look. Apparently, lady tortoises have an aural spot with which Diego could tickle their fancy. One can only wonder what Diego whispered to his lady loves — “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be a giant tortoise,” “This giant tortoise is in love with you,” “I just bellowed to say ‘I love you’” “Tortoise love will keep us together,” “All you need is tortoise love,” “I want to hold your claw,” or possibly “My shell, Ma Belle.” The ways of giant tortoise love are a many splendored thing.

Diego is going to be sent back to his home island of Espanola, where he is going to live out the rest of his days writing his memoirs, telling lies to his tortoise buddies about his multiple romantic conquests and appearing in commercials for Viagra.

So, what can Diego teach mere mortal men about love in this most dangerous time of the upcoming Valentine Zone? Toot your own horn. Have a big personality. Promise her anything but remember to deliver. Slow and steady wins the race to repopulate. Never, ever give up. Even if you look like Mitch McConnell, there is a woman who is right for you.

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