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Snake in the Grass

Last Sunday I was walking in a garden and was tempted by a snake. It was awesome.

I had gone out to talk to my plants in soothing tones, which I do because I have no children or pets. The strawberry had been a wild idea -- $14 and no fruit until next year, but he's adorable. It is important for him not to feel insecure, just because he costs as much as four and a half tomatoes and will not be particularly useful for awhile. It is important that this plant learn of unconditional love. I was explaining to him he could produce fruit whenever it felt right, when I noticed SNAKE.

That is exactly what happened in my brain. SNAKE. And then I was eight feet away. The best part was that the same thing happened to him. We had been hanging out, just fine, and both saw each other and ran in opposite directions.

Well, I ran. He contracted his belly into some rocks, which a second later produced a chipmunk, sprinting away.

Snake and Chipmunk and I, them with their quarter-teaspoon brains and me with my three-pounder, all had exactly the same instinct. That scaly, unblinking eating machine and I looked at each other and thought: Doom.

And then, because I have another layer of brain besides instinct, I wanted to get a 2x4 and whomp him.

It's important that you know that this is not a scary snake. He looks like this.

(Click here to see scary snake.)

By this time I was able to use a more external layer of brain and look him up on the Internet. And I found out that, really close up, he looks much scarier!

(Click here to see much scarier snake.)

And you can't even see his teeth in that picture, if he has teeth. Plus, his wife gives live birth. She could be giving live birth right now on my cucumbers. I had to get this snake. He thinks I'm a wuss now.

But I didn't. I thought about all the dead deer on the side of highways I had seen this week (three) and the turkey vultures eating them, and turkey vultures are actually pretty cute. I love the way their heads are bald and naked so they don't get dead animal gunk on their feathers. There's an admirable honesty in that. And then I thought about the example I was setting and whether I wanted the strawberry plant to grow up in a world of thoughtless violence, even thoughtless violence to snakes. I could cover him with a blanket while I did it, but eventually he would know I was a killer. He will find that out soon enough, when I eat his babies, so let's let him have a childhood for now.


Note to the Boodle (is it capitalized?): You all need to know about the existence of the New Landers sisters, the world's least biodegradable teen singing duo. Daughters of Audrey or the other one. Their song "Fallen Angel" (the music video, produced apparently in 1988, must be watched on Youtube) features the lyric, "Last night my whole world has died."

-- Rachel Manteuffel

By Editor  |  May 7, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
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