Forgive me for re-posting this from a few years ago, but I thought you might enjoy it as it is a New Year’s Eve story…

snake-Dev-Khalsa

photo from Ophidiophobia – Fear of Snakes (Picture by Dev Khalsa)  honorslounge.com

A very conservative lawyer friend had a very conservative lawyer wife who had taken up belly dancing.  She and 2 friends were so skilled in this talent that they were chosen to be performers for a large audience for First Night, the annual New Year’s Eve celebration in the city.  For an added “twist” to their act, my lawyer friend asked if his wife could borrow one of my son’s 5 foot long boa constrictors for their dance.  I had plenty of reservations, but I said okay. (It is always good to keep a lawyer friend happy because you never know when you will need a lawyer’s help.)  The ladies came to our house, and practiced with the snake while my son, Steven, who is very familiar with snakes, supervised.  The practice went very well, and the ladies excitedly decided to bill their act as the “The Dance of the Snake Goddesses.”

Well, New Year’s Eve came and I reminded Steven that we had to take the snake to the performance hall for the act.  Steven, who has Asperger’s and an anxiety disorder, was mortified!  There was no way HE was going to go to a large hall where there were a lot of people!  He handed me a pillowcase to put the snake in, and a bottle of alcohol “in case it bit someone”. He promptly took off on his bike peddling away to destinations unknown to me, (but far away from  First Night appearance.)  I started to panic!  These excited dancers were billed as the “The Dance of the Snake Goddesses” and they would have no snake!  Feeling extremely obligated to provide them with a snake, I decided to bring the it myself.  I had not minded the snakes when they were locked in the glass tanks, but somehow I was going to have to get up the nerve to actually take the snake out and put it in the pillowcase.  My hands were shaking as I undid the lock and took the cover off of the tank.   It looked docile enough, just lying there.  I reached in and managed to push it into the pillowcase using a long sleeved pot holder, proud of myself for not having to touch it.  Maybe I’d be okay! I tentatively carried the pillowcase to the living room, but I had miscalculated by not securing the top of it.  The snake’s head popped out, I pushed it back down.  It popped out again, and I pushed it down again.  This time it was stronger and its head came our farther.  When I tried to push it back in, it wiggle away from me and the whole snake came slithering out of the bag, which I promptly dropped.  There, on the floor of our living room, was a slithering 5 foot long snake!  I screamed.  My husband came to see what was going on, and he jumped up on the couch and screamed.  Even though I was shaking and my first instinct was to smash the thing over the head with a broom, I remembered  my commitment to our lawyer friends.  I gathered up my courage and, using the broom gently, I nudged it back into the pillowcase, this time immediately tying the top into a knot.

I was still shaking from this experience as I drove to the city with the wriggling pillowcase on the seat next to me.  I was feeling tremendous relief that I had at least caught it and was on my way to the performance. I even felt a little sorry for it, and turned the heat all the way up in my car so it could be warm.  (It had started to snow outside, which would mean there would be a larger than usual audience for an inside performance as the outside First Night performances would involved standing around in wet snow.  Great!  A bigger audience for what was sure to be a Snake Goddess fiasco!)

When we got near the theater, I put the pillowcase inside my coat to keep it warm. (MY I was brave!)  There was a line around the building waiting to see the performance.  I went to the head of the line, and quietly said to the guard at the door, “I have the snake for the performance.”  In his loudest voice, he parted the crowd by saying “Make way for the snake handler.  Make way for the snake handler!”  I wanted to hide!  As a 55 year old shaking, nervous, dowdy woman, I no more resembled a snake handler than a chipmunk would resemble Santa Clause.

I managed to get back stage with the snake and the belly dancers were very excited.  They carefully took him (her?  I couldn’t tell the difference,) out of the bag and began to practice.  By now I was shaking so badly that my stomach was in knots.  I was holding the bottle of alcohol (“in case it bit someone”.)  I was on the verge of tears, both from relief that I’d delivered the snake in one piece, but also fear that it would bite and there would be blood and screams and lawsuits.

The audience in the large theater was packed, standing room only.  The music for the dancers began.  They dramatically began the act hidden behind veils, with the snake on one woman with the head at one hand, draped across her back, and the tail on the other hand.  They did a dramatic dance, dropping the veils at different intervals for the audience to get a glimpse of the snake.  I could hear  “ooooh”  and “aaaaaah” from the audience.  I was hoping the snake wasn’t going to slither down and into the audience causing mass panic,  emptying the audience out into the street, or, worse yet, go around biting audience members with me following along with my bottle of alcohol. (Then I’d really need a lawyer for the lawsuits!)

Then something strange happened. The dancers dropped their veils, and the snake actually seemed to join in the dance.  Soon its head was wriggling in time to the music, its tail was swaying around, and it seemed to be having a grand old time!  It began to slither in time to the music (a pure coincidence I’m sure,) from one dancer to the next.  It was an amazing sight, the graceful gyrating dancers and the graceful gyrating snake, all moving in time to the music.  Mesmerizing. Amazing.  The act finished to a standing ovation, and darn it if it didn’t seem as though the snake bowed his head in response to the clapping from the audience.

After the show, the dancers gave the snake a few affectionate pats and back into the pillowcase it went.  I tied it in a knot, put it under my coat, and carried it back to the car.  I felt as though I was going to cry, but this time it was tears of relief.  I don’t know how I get myself into these situations, but, again, I’d come through it unscathed, with a little more respect for the reptile in the pillowcase next to me!

 

Thanks for reading.  If you want to read more here is the link to my book:The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane

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Comments on: "The Dance of the Snake Goddesses" (51)

  1. Wow, I have always actually wanted to see this happen ! I would love to have been there.

  2. xcountrypearl said:

    Never in a million years would I have done what you did. I would have run with your child to points unknown!

  3. Great story! You had me on the edge of my seat, waiting to find out the end! I saw this as a lesson in relaxing, and how once we do, everything around us falls into a pattern of flowing with the music(even the scary things!). Though maybe I’m reading too much into it! :)

  4. strawberryquicksand said:

    What an awesome and well written story. Thank you for sharing that one. It gave me a right chuckle!

  5. Your bravery with snakes does not surprise me…because you are fearless with children!

  6. What a story! Thank you for sharing it. I like snakes and once organised a function with a snake dancer as the cabaret – unfortunately I was held up in transit and actually missed the act. I was so disappointed that I was taken to her dressing room where she got the snake out of his basket and put it around my neck and let me stroke it etc.

  7. Once again I am impressed with how even when life is difficult you always step up and do what you feel is the right thing. I really enjoy your posts! Kudos to you for your bravery!

  8. This posting made me smile so much! You are amazing!!! I love my stepkids, but not sure I could transport a snake for them.

  9. Very brave, indeed! I wonder if snakes like the music or the attention. hehe My daughter and several friends are belly-dancers. Word of advice from one who knows: if you don’t like snakes, don’t hang out with belly-dancers, because at some point, a snake will be dancing. This goes for fire, too. And swords. o.0

  10. Hi, thanks for this very uplifting blog, you are amazing! With love, all things are surmountable, and you seem to be filled with it.

  11. minisculegiants said:

    You are one brave woman!

  12. Thank you very much for posting this! I had the opportunity several years back to hold a boa for a while. It changed my whole attitude toward snakes. Your article is so good to help people change their beliefs about snakes.
    Tomas

  13. What an enlightening story!!! Great blog!

  14. What a great story! I thought perhaps the dancers had given alcohol to the snake and that’s what put it in a dancing mood! You are a lot braver than I would have been in those circumstances.

  15. What a fun article and written well!

  16. You did it again, you made me cry – but this time from laughing! I love your self deprecating sense of humor, and the timing and pace of your writing is just perfect. I felt like I was along for the ride!

    Boas are actually pretty mellow snakes. The only time they get cranky is if they’re shedding, or really hungry. Other than that, they just sorta hang out. I’m sure the snake appreciated you taking it out for a dance! :-D

  17. lol! You have quite the adventurous life!

  18. Wow, what a mom!!!

  19. Great fun, suspenseful, uplifting, well written. Do so enjoy your blog. My granddaughter, who is fairly limited with Autism, has discovered instrumental music, including classical. It’s opened up a whole new world for her. Perhaps what happened for he snake.

  20. I laughed all the way through this.

  21. Wow, I could not have done that. I am so glad it turned out ok for you. Very well written. I could picture this the whole time I was reading it. :)

  22. You are brave beyond belief (at least my belief). Thanks for the hilariously entertaining tail. The things we do for our kids and our friends!

  23. I loved this story! You were very brave to do that :) Living with someone with Asperger’s can be challenging, but is a gift. My stepbrother has Asperger’s and he is an amazingly gifted and sweet person. It has been a privilege to have him in my life to expand my understanding of the world and the people in it. Thank you for sharing :)

  24. notatypicalmom said:

    Great post!

  25. Well done for going through with it! We have five snakes, although not as big as yours :-) I have seen guests literally running to hide behind the pot plants when the kids take them out to show everyone. Now I think I’ll learn to belly dance, could be a great source of extra income! :-)

  26. Great, suspenseful story! I’ve nominated your blog for a Reality Blog Award. The information is on my blog. -Ilene

  27. This made me laugh so much! “make way for the snake handler.” Priceless.
    By the way, you can tell male snakes from female because the male lounges around doing nothing, waiting for food to be given to it and the female constantly makes noise for no apparent reason. (Just kidding…)

  28. Never met super woman in person, but I think you must be her secret identity. What an inspirational life and writings you give to us. Thanks!

  29. Thanks for the much needed laugh! I love real life stories like this.

  30. Its sight is a bit scaring.. Nice

  31. Oh my! I laughed so hard at your post picturing in my minds eye my own mother tackling this feat!

  32. That takes a lot of courage! Great work!

  33. Great story that really happened! Beats any I have read lately on any blogs!! Thanks for the smiles, too.

  34. LMAO! You tell a fantastic story. I’m glad no one was bitten and you didn’t have to use the alcohol or get sued! I felt kind of sorry for the snake but happy he enjoyed the attention at the performance :)

  35. Wonderful story, from the lady who loves stories more than real life. Change 5 “disabled children” to “7 chlldren, 5 of whom are artists, & several mentally ill,” and we could be the same person, haha.

  36. Most entertaining! And, to think this isn’t fiction. I’m impressed.

  37. Wow – you get my vote for best friend (for delivering the snake) and best Mom (for allowing it as a pet) – – I have huge snake phobias and though I have no doubt they have their grace, beauty and purpose (as beautifully illustrated in your post) I just couldn’t bring myself to put myself in the vicinity to witness –

    Thanks for letting me experience without having to actually be near – gasp – a snake…

    :>)

    • I was always petrified of snakes, too. Steven’s school internship was at a reptile facility, and they “paid” him in free reptiles. I couldn’t say no because he was soooooooo proud of his “salary”. He kept them in locked cages so they weren’t really a danger. And I did really start to like them (a little.)

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