Friday, April 1, 2011

It's like having Edward Cullen as a pet, only prettier

A conversation I had last night in my head with my 15 year-old former self when I was plagued by insomnia and obsessing over today's picture challenge:

Me: So today on my blog I'm supposed to post a picture of my favorite pet, only I don't have a pet...
15 Year-old Me: What's a blog?
Me: Nevermind that. I don't think I've had a pet in a decade, so I need your advice.
15 Year-old Me: Wiener dogs!
Me: [sigh] I almost forgot about my brief but expensive dachshund obsession... Alex the Wiener Dog. Dumbest animal on the planet. You do know she ate her own excretion, right?
15 Year-old Me: We also have the cleanest yard on the street.
Me: You have a point.
15 Year-old Me: They are so CUTE! And anyway, you can dress them like hot dogs on Halloween...
Me: Original. You do know we're, like, deathly allergic to fur, right?
15 Year-old Me: ?
Me: Oh... right. That's 8 years in your future. How do you feel about snakes?
15 Year-old Me: ?!!
If you've read previous posts, you're aware of how much I like snakes. But this came gradually, mostly because I'm allergic to fur, feathers, mold, cleaning cages, and work in general which really limits my choices of pets. Then in my twenties I found THE perfect pet for me: corn snakes. Why corn snakes?

First of all corn snakes are great snakes for beginners like me. They are docile and could care less about whether you pick them up to play or if you leave them to their own devices for months at a time. They only eat once every 7-10 days which also makes them economical. They scare the crap out of Jehovah's Witnesses who might come to your apartment door at 8am on a Saturday morning when all you want to do is sleep for goodness sakes. And they come in pretty colors. Like flowers with fangs, only without the annoying, sneeze-inducing pollen. Or a vampire that just swallows mice every now and then and sticks its tongue at you as opposed to drinking your blood.

I named Severus Snake after my favorite Harry Potter character. He was sweet, as far as snakes go, and extremely clever. Like crazy clever. A million times smarter than the s**t-eating dachshund I had as a teenager.

During one of my spring breaks when I was teaching I decided not to bring Severus with me to Charlottesville. So I fed him a big, juicy mouse and put him back in his cage while I packed my bags. It was a new cage- larger than his previous one, with lots of space for him to move around. As I was packing I noticed him slithering up the glass walls. I didn't pay any attention to him until I saw Severus use his body to unlock the lid and then lift the top off with his nose. He slithered down to the table in triumph.

When he glanced my way, I could swear he was gloating.

Time for plan B.

I put Severus back in the cage, locking the lid securely. I then put 2 World History textbooks on top of the lid. Anyone who has ever had to suffer through history in high school knows how ridiculously thick those books are. Now imagine teacher editions. I put one on each side next to the locks on top of the cage, smiled smugly at outsmarting my pet reptile, and left for my parents' house.

When I came back 5 days later, I found the lid wide open with the textbooks still on top. There was no snake to be seen. I was devastated. Snakes like dark, damp, warm places to hide. Places where they can get trapped and die. I figured I would find a snake corpse somewhere near my washing machine in a few months time and be utterly traumatized.

But being the eternal optimist, I went around the apartment looking for Severus. I stomped my feet loudly as I walked since snakes can only sense vibrations. I went to the study where I stored his extra snake stuff in the closet, including a little Christmas tree I bought him (we've been over that fact that I need therapy, right?). Sure enough, there he was right next to his tree. Guess he likes Christmas. He saw me and slithered into my hands. We went back to using the smaller cage after that.

When I moved to Japan I was forced to give him away to a science teacher at my high school. I heard from former students that Severus got a lot of attention and enjoyed living at the school, constantly on display. I also heard that he escaped quite frequently... :-)


Patrick said...

Those aren't really pictures of Alex! But this is:

Jen said...

Patrick... you ROCK!!! Love you man! All my pics of Alex are at my folks' house, buried under years of clutter in my closet and certainly not scanned.

You ROCK!!! And I will totally check out Chickpea's blog. What a cutie!!