When my 13-year-old asked if he could buy himself a snake, I wanted to say “no.” That is my answer for everything and I find it keeps our expenses down. My wife, on the other hand, likes to say “yes” whenever possible. Knowing that a kid taking care of his own pet is probably a good idea, I had to find a way to get to a “yes” all the while understanding that if I was the guy who pushed for it, I would be held responsible if the snake devoured one of the kids. Then it would be me requiring a heat lamp and a new place to curl up. I gave the best answer a man in my position could give: “Ask your mother.” Then I added: “But probably not.”
Once she knew I was maybe not “on board,” his mother immediately gave the green light and Duncan bought a baby Columbian Rainbow Boa Constrictor.
The first big job involving Atticus the Boa Constrictor was feeding time.
Step One: Defrost a frozen mouse that has been living in your freezer and staring at you whenever you open the door.
Step Two: Be severely warned by your mother: Remove the frozen mouse from the microwave. “I will NOT have a mouse explode in a kitchen appliance. Put the mouse in a mason jar and fill the jar with boiling water. Do this in the sink. You WILL NOT spill the water on anything.”
Step Three: Agree heartily.
Step Four: Struggle with the lid of the mason jar and spill the contents of said jar across the counter, the floor, the ceiling, the dog and the microwave.
Step Five: Say something silly like, “Cool! Now I smell like mouse. I wonder if the snake will try to eat me!”
Step Six: Dangle the thawed mouse in front of the snake and watch as it hungrily crushes and devours it.
Step Seven: Watch with pleasure as Mom becomes the “no” parent.
Benji: “Can I get a snake, too?”
My Wife: “No.”
Emma: “Can I hold the snake?”
My Wife: “No.”
Duncan: “Do you want to hold him, Mommy?”
My Wife: “Absolutely not.”
Benji: “Can I get a mouse?”
My Wife: “NO!”
Me: “What’s the problem, honey? It seems like you don’t like the snake now.”
My Wife: “I don’t. I didn’t know it would…you know…squeeze the poor mouse like that.”
Me: “The poor dead mouse?”
My Wife: “Yes. I don’t like how it squeezes…”
Me: “You mean “constricts”?”
My Wife: “Yes. I don’t like how it constricts the dead mouse.”
Me: “Honey, what would you expect a boa constrictor to do? Tickle?”
My Wife: “It was my understanding that the “constrictor” was only a sub-category of the boa species.”
Me: “Like the black sheep of the snake family?”
My Wife: “Exactly. This was a bad idea of yours.”
Me: “Right. I’ll get the heat lamp ready.”