"There's a big snake in the plane, Jock!"
"Oh, that's just my pet snake Reggie!"
"I hate snakes, Jock! I hate 'em!"
"Come on! Show a little backbone, will ya?"
And so, after narrowly escaping a cave full of deathtraps, a tribe of angry natives, and a sneaky competitor who, in the long run, will get what's coming to him, Indiana Jones is revealed to not only be one of the definitive heroes of movie history, but to be afraid of snakes.
In the last few days, a cobra in the Bronx Zoo has become famous, for escaping. She's an adolescent snake, and it seems she eluded her keepers for several days before being found within the confines of the Reptile House. Zoo officials were, predictably, quite reassuring throughout. They noted that the cobra would only strike if provoked, and mentioned that the snake wouldn't be hungry (these critters don't eat that often), all the while trying to tempt the little thing out with the bait of mice for a snack.
During her time on the run, she's gotten a lot of followers. Someone at Twitter started up a BronxZooCobra identity and posted lots of updates from the snake's point of view. Conan O'Brien placed a cobra puppet into his band for a skit. Rumor of the cobra running for President remain unsubstantiated.
Norma and I chatted about the notion of a cobra loose in New York City, and the kinds of things it might do. On its own, in New York, which of course is ground zero for snakes of an entirely different sort. I mean the two legged ones. Lawyers, accountants, stockbrokers, agents, publishers, politicians, the list is endless. We agreed that Charlie Sheen would try to have the snake become his sidekick, and that it might run for mayor of the Big Apple against Mayor Bloomberg, who, Norma has long since decided, is an asp... or was that ass?
Inevitably had it gone on much longer, there would have been photoshop images of the cobra. We'd have seen the cobra standing in for Lee Harvey Oswald and getting shot by Jack Ruby. The cobra as Tiger Woods' caddy. The cobra on the moon.
Instead, she's back in the care of her keepers, and because of her popularity, the zoo's planning on holding a naming contest for her. Norma thinks Eden is a good one (as in Garden of...).
What is it about snakes that seem to get to a lot of people? People talk about fears of snakes, how creepy they seem. These critters have been getting a bad rep since man first noticed that reptile slithering across his cave while trying to figure out how to make a wheel.
They're found in many parts of the world, with a great variety. Many of them are shy and elusive. Some are venomous, others use constriction to get their dinner into a more... edible form. The joke in Australia is that the continent has 200 kinds of snakes. 199 of them are venomous. The one that's not will just eat you whole.
I rather like them. They keep the mice population in check, which is a very good thing, by the way. On the odd occasion during hiking or climbing, I'll come across them sunning themselves on a clifftop, and I've always thought of it as a treat to see them. Still, some people find their skin crawling at just the mention of the word snake. How peculiar.
Aren't they adorable?