Saturday, January 15, 2005

Reptile Man

Early in the week, YoungestBoy came home from school bursting with excitement. Reptile Man was coming to school on Friday! I instantly pictured a man with scaly skin and a forked tongue, covered with body art--this guy. But no, that's Lizard Man, and the flyer advertised "Reptile Man."

Last night, then, YoungestBoy and I headed over to the school to see the Reptile Man's show. We joined a fairly large crowd in the school multi-purpose room. YoungestBoy sat on the floor, right in the front, and I sat on the very edge of the second row, on the end of a big horseshoe shaped line of chairs. We faced a assortment of animal crates and Rubbermaid tubs dotted with air holes.

Finally, Reptile Man finally plucked the microphone from a stand and greeted us. His voice matched his earth-toned clothing, a murky forest green shirt and rumpled khaki pants. He spoke like a hypnotist, quietly, calmly . . . I half-expected him to tell me I'd be falling into a deep sleep at the count of 10, 9, 8, 7 . . . you are feeling very sleepy . . . 6, 5, 4 . . . close your eyes and drop your shoulders . . . 3, 2, 1.

But, no. Without an assistant or much introduction, he plucked a giant bullfrog named Jeremiah from a plastic tub. Then, it was on to a tortoise (Snapper, named for an ex-girlfriend, he deadpanned). We also met "Spongebob, Squareshell", a sea turtle. He made us promise to never eat turtle soup and to quit planting English Ivy in our gardens because turtles are slow to reproduce and English Ivy is quick to reproduce. By that time, I was completely in a Reptile Man trance, his flowing words a stream of calm and peace in which I found myself floating.

He showed us a baby alligator and a couple of lizards, but, of course, the main attraction were the snakes.

I am not a big fan of the snake as a matter of principle. They unhinge their jaws and swallow mammals and as a mammal, I sort of take offense to this. However, Reptile Man pointed out that snakes are our Friends. They eat Rats and Mice and Rats and Mice are not our friends, despite what Disney would have you believe. Okay. So, I'm convinced. I wish I had a back yard full of snakes, but alas, I live in a climate where we have only two species of snakes--the garter snake and one other, the name of which slithers out of my short-term memory.

Then, he told us about the Black Mamba, the most poisonous and dangerous and FAST snake in the world. He mentioned in his soothing voice that if it got loose, it would be very quick, so beware! I smiled because at that point, I knew Reptile Man would never let a snake loose. All the snakes so far had rested gently in his hands while he taught us that vipers are venomous and have a triangle shaped head. Not a single snake had hissed and showed a hint of speed or danger.

He put his microphone down for a moment, and reached into a blue Rubbermaid tub and fiddled around a bit, getting a grip on the snake and then BOOM! Two snakes practically flew into the crowd and we all screamed in unison and Reptile Man burst into laughter because he'd played the old "springs in a can" trick on us. My heart was still fluttering while he pointed out that our fears are pretty much learned behavior and unfounded because Snakes are Good. Snakes are our Friends.

Then, he brought out a cobra and stared into its eyes and made it dance and I had the feeling that if he'd stared into my eyes, I might have danced, too, but of course, he's the Reptile Man. I was under some sort of reptilian trance, the primitive part of my brain under the spell of his monotone and mossy green shirt.

Which explains why I actually stroked this enormous snake (cooler and smoother than I anticipated) which I paid $4.00 for Reptile Man to drape around my 6-year old son and photograph.

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(And, because of my randomly chosen seat in the multi-purpose room, I leaped into line when he dismissed us and we were second in line. The line snaked (ha ha) around the perimeter of the room. I'd guess a hundred or more children had to wait a long, long, long time to have that giant albino snake snaked around their shoulders.)


6 Comments:

Blogger Wash Lady said...

Oh!
Look at how much fun he is having :)

BTW - I absolutely - H A T E English Ivy. Hate it.

5:33 AM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

That is the coolest snake I've ever seen. Of course, it is easy to feel that way about a snake that's miles and miles away from me.

That child. That snake. That photo. What fun.

Suzanne

9:50 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

Oh, what fun! Cute kid. I like kids. Snakes...um, no.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

Hey, cool pic! Lizard Man - Horrible creature.

9:56 AM  
Blogger elswhere said...

Wow, Reptile Man! He came to our school and the kids were all agog for reptiles for *weeks.* Weeks, I tell you!

8:56 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

I don't even like looking at snakes through glass! Youngest Boy is pretty brave...he looks very happy...

1:00 PM  

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