Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sneks, Nourriture and Nuture

Dear Sir,

After experiencing the quality of your earlier products, I must commend you on your consistency: naak leuuap (if that really is a thing) is of exactly the same quality. For instance, I was moved to write a comment to your piece, "Subscription to Evil."
However, after several half-hearted attempts, I could not get the "post comment" link to function. Perhaps Naak Leuuap does not prefer the Safari browser application. Perhaps the "post comment" link is purely decoration; perhaps you don't wish to read comments at all. Whichever, below find what I would have attempted to publish on your Leuuap.

Disclaimer: I am CCing Morgan D, another former young herpetologist and current young father. Perhaps he can amplify my points.

As a boy, I, like other youngsters, was encouraged to form an interest in animals for the purpose of writing "research reports," constructing dioramas, and otherwise learning how to produce educational-work products. I remember a particularly fine work on cougars, titled, "Cougars" from the 2nd grade. However, cougars and volcanos were not my main line of inquiry. Snakes were. Not Snake Plisskin, but real snakes. Herpetology. This interest persisted. Sometime in the 6th grade, after several years of pleading and numerous trips to local "exotic" pet stores, I was purchased a snake as a birthday present: an albino corn snake (a fertile hybrid of a corn snake and an albino king snake). I dutifully cared for the snake. I created a terrarium, including a paper mache cave structure for the animal, named Snek. Snek's cage temperature was regulated by the use of an incandescent light bulb and an electric heated rock. As a young corn snake, Snek's diet consisted of infant mice, blind and helpless, which are referred to as pinkies. For convenience, and because Snek was willing to consume non-live prey, at times I would purchase as many as a dozen pinkies and freeze them. I used the family microwave to warm them up to live temperature prior to feedings. A dozen pinkies would last several months when Snek was small. My younger sister even decorated a plastic container with hobby paints for Snek's food, so as to lessen the likelihood of human-snake food confusion. As Snek grew, so did his prey requirements. Eventually large mice and even small rats were indicated. These were usually offered live, though a kind pet store employee generously demonstrated a rat euthanasia technique for Morgan and me: swing the rat the by the tail with some force so that its head would bang against a counter edge. Snek lived in my bedroom for many years, growing large and wise, shedding many skins, and only occasionally causing excitement by escaping or regurgitating a rodent. While I did not subscribe to Snake World! Magazine nor any other herpetological publication (my paper route funds, especially in the darker, earlier years, were quite stretched to provide for Snek's pinkies), I cannot help but worry you misunderstand snake hobbyists. Snake ownership can be a powerful signaling apparatus for adolescent and pre-adolescent boys: you love animals, but you have an edge, a dark side. More importantly, snake ownership prepares young men for fatherhood. Who can help but be reminded of microwaving frozen pinkies when he is warming his tot's earliest meals at the stove? Who can wipe feces from his child without thinking of cleaning the terrarium? Who can change countless diapers without wondering what it would be like if human urine crystalized the way reptile urine does? We, and countless others like us, learned to nurture through snakes, and without reading Snake World! Magazine, I'm sure this is the mission its editors and contributors aim for.


P.S. Snek was eventually given to a professional herpetologist, and Snek may still be fighting fascism somewhere in our great land.

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