When I was a kid, like most red-blooded American boys in the suburbs, I spent a good deal of my summer vacation catching snakes and lizards. They were the perfect pets – they only ate once a week and nobody had to walk them when I was at the other parent’s house for days at a time. I kept my friends in an old aquarium with an ill fitting screen lid. Unfortunately for my step-mom, who didn’t share my affinity for snakes (to put it mildly), this enclosure proved pretty far from escape proof. I didn’t mind finding the occasional foot long gopher snake curled up under the pillow in my nice, warm water bed. Other people felt differently about that.
So one weekend, I brought home a pretty obese garter snake from a camping trip. I put it in the aquarium, made sure it had a nice water bowl, and a stick to climb. Then I plugged in the heat rock, and put the lid on. My father took the kids out for pizza. My step-mom, desperate for a break from us at that point, stayed home to put away the camping stuff.
When we got home she was standing outside on the curb, chain smoking and staring at the house like it might be on fire.
“I thought you only brought home one snake!” she yelled, visibly shaken.
“I did! Just a little garter snake,” I said defensively.
“That is NOT one snake. It’s goddamn Raiders of the Lost Ark in there and I’m not going back in until you catch them ALL.” she snapped, strangling her pack of Capris.
I knew better than to argue, even though I thought she was nuts. In the house, there were overturned cereal bowls everywhere. I picked one up. A newborn garter snake was coiled beneath it. Well of course, I thought, the gaps in the lid would never hold this little fellow, or his siblings!
“Wow!” I yelled. “It must have been pregnant! Isn’t this awesome!?” Truly a miracle.
I heard swearing from the front porch from the step-mom, muffled laughter from the dad, and a clear order to “round up all the goddamned snakes and get rid of them.”
Some people are just plain unreasonable.
In a related story, later that week I got busted at school for selling baby garter snakes for five bucks a pop.