The drive out to the W'ank was pleasant. I saw a Piggly Wiggly, the southern grocery store that is never not funny to me. I didn't think we had any in Louisiana; thought it was a Mississippi/Alabammy thang.
I commented to PZB (and subsequently ruined the Piggly Wiggly logo forever) that the mascot's paper hat looked like an upside-down wahjayjay.
"Or a camel toe!" the Doc responded, cringing and fidgeting. Henceforth the Piggly Wiggly will be known as the Camelly Wammelly. Just so you know.
What, you don't see it?
We got to the expo and began examining the varmints. I had no real plans to buy anything. Ben had frowned at the thought. (He stills calls my python Scully, "that serpent," with a sour face.) PZB's own man was even more explicit in his instructions, having adjured me a few days earlier, "Don't let any more reptiles end up in my house!"
"Awkward!" I thought, being mediator between two opposing-idea friends. I relegated myself to the mute role of Switzerland.
I'm no herpetologist, and my experience with snakes is limited to my ball python, and the occasional boa constrictors I have seen and petted in my life, so I was wide-eyed as a child at Christmas examining all vastly differing and exquisite types of snakes on display in their little tupperware containers. King snakes, corn snakes, milk snakes, hognose snakes, each category boasting hundreds of variations. In the python world, I learned from a breeder that, "If you mix a spider with a pie, you get a bumblebee." The terminology was as foreign and hilarious to me as the nautical lexicon.
Every booth was a cavalcade of beautiful or bizarre critters. The "spitting horsestick bug" confused me the most, as it looked like neither a horse nor a stick, and it wasn't spitting.
Roadkill frogs (as I called them), apparently flatten themselves when scared, upset, depressed, moody, or contemplative and introspective.
A large begging tortoise was waddling about the expo asking for handouts.
The miniature dragon lizards liked to piggyback on each other (very cute), and who knew that scorpions liked to pile up on each other by the hundreds?
We encountered a full-grown ball python (both PZB and I have the same kind of snake, though both are several feet away from their optimal length) and its final size seemed perfect to me — about 6' long, girthy, and then it stops growing, unlike those meaty boas that go on and on like a clown's handkerchief. I mean, I dig the boas, but who has room for a 32' cage in their house?
Here's Poppy with the full-grown ball python. ("We both have balls," she said to the breeder, who either didn't hear her, or wasn't on the same elevated level of witty humor as we clearly were. Gender dysphoria is hilarious!)
Of course Poppy had planned from the beginning to go home with a snake because she's conniving like that. Either a tri-colored king snake or a hognose. When we came across a tri-colored hognose (an erstwhile unknown breed to us), the deal was sealed. Some watery species of "permission" was asked of me. I shrugged and kept my lips shut, remembering my Swiss role. But it started spinning the wheels in my own feeble head.
"Scully's gonna be about six feet long," I reasoned aloud with myself. "I'm going to need a bigger terrarium. But then I'll have this other tank that Scully's currently occupying. I might as well put something in it, right?"
"Oh yah, totally!" cried Poppy. "That's a great argument, whatever you just said! You should do it."
I took out my phone just to check the time. Poppy was alarmed, thinking I was going to ask permission from the husband. "Don't text Ben! What do you think will happen! Fool!"
Flashback two years: "Ben? Can I get a snake?"
Ben: "Can I get a gun?"
We now have both.
What bargaining item would he demand of me for a second serpent? A get-out-of-the-doghouse-free card that allows him to bring home a 19 year old stripper, is what Ben posited.
Meanwhile, back at the snake expo, I start getting weird texts from Ben:
Porn movie plot that just happened for real. Some weird foreigner rings the doorbell and asks if our house is a bar.To which I immediately replied: You can do him if I can get a snake.
I ask him what he's looking for. He says The 9th Circle cause he's looking for 'the sex.'
Having answered the door in my underwear, I sent him on his way and said good luck.
Maybe someone is playing a trick on me. Who rings a doorbell thinking a house is a bar?
I had already seen the one I wanted — a baby king snake, yellow with black Ben-Day dots that resembled the mode of my paintings. I'd never seen anything like him in nature, and at $35, it was an easy decision.
(For a moment, I considered buying the female counterpart to Poppy's male tri-colored hognose, with the intention of mating them when they're mature, but both its price [$275] and our complete lack of know-how on how to mate snakes dissuaded me.)
So I bought the Ben-Day dot king snake and immediately named him Roy, after Lichtenstein.
Kickoff was approaching, and I still wanted to stop by the pet store and buy a bigger tank for Scully, so we left the expo and drove to the Pet Co., where I found that my shitty tupperware containing Roy had malfunctioned and the snake had escaped and was somewhere in the car.
Poppy and I spent 30 horrible minutes or so scouring the dark corners of my car. My god, there are so many places a 6", pencil-thin snake could hide in a Toyota! Things were not looking good, and the mood of the day had just nosedived. My hand was cut in several places from feeling around in the complicated underside of the seats, looking for snaky crevasses. Blood spattered my car and my clothes.
"Well," I muttered, dejected, "I guess I don't need a new tank now. Let's just go."
"I should have mentioned that king snakes are notorious escape artists. Hindsight, eh?"
We discussed ways of trapping snakes on the way back to Poppy's house, and then YouTubed how-to-catch-a-snake videos while the Saints pissed away what should have been an easy win against some Arizona team. The day was taking many turns for the worse.
Chris was, shall we say, less than ecstatic about the new addition to their household. ("What manner of worm is this!?") I shied away silently in the kitchen, like a bashful Swiss.
The Saints game turned into arts-n-crafts hour for me, and I made this little trapdoor bottle contraption and baited it with a pinkie (baby mouse) and put it in the backseat of my car, which I checked pointlessly every twenty minutes, like the scared little snake would really feel like eating just then.
The Saints were losing, my snake was still lost, and I had a dinner date with Ben, so I took a few extra pinkies from Poppy to replace the one in the trap when it turned putrid and drove off.
Walking to dinner, Ben asked, "So. Did you get a snake?"
"Well, Poppy got this really beautiful fruit-striped baby snake…"
"Honey, I don't care how many snakes you have. I'm not giving you a hard time. I just want them to be in their cages, not slithering around the house or loose in the car or some crazy thing."
"Funny you should mention that…" I said, and disclosed all.
I briefly considered not telling him anything about the day's misadventures, but I'm not in the habit of lying to, or keeping things from the husband. Plus, we were going to Green Goddess, where Chris is the chef, and I figured he (Chris) would ask at some point, "Ever find that snake loose in the car?"
"So there's a snake loose in the car," said Ben with grim countenance.
Then, a little later, "I can't believe there's a snake loose in the car."
Then, later, "There's really a snake wiggling around in the car?"
I just checked the trap and water dish this moment. Still nothing.
Ben has to drive Uptown to get his contacts in a minute.
"Is there still a snake loose in the car?"
Who fucking knows.
*I am still not a fan of zee fútbol, but I will suck cock or do any other manner of menial chore for the Saints.