Snake Eat Snake World

Since this is the May issue of New Orleans Magazine, I thought I would write an homage to all the mothers of the world, particularly my own, this being Mother’s Day month.

And then I saw a ginormous water moccasin leap out of a small creek and swallow a green striped garden snake half its size in one gulp. So, mother can wait.

Who knew snakes ate other snakes? That just seems…rude. Like: “Hey, other snake, what’s up, dude?” Gulp.

This happened literally 30 feet from my cabin in the woods. And it was a stark reminder that – since relocating to rustic, semi-rural Lacombe, Louisiana, last fall – there are still some psychological adjustments to be made for someone like me who has spent his entire life walking only on pavement and cheap linoleum.

I mean, this water moccasin was huge. And although I didn’t see it fully uncoiled – it’s not like I was going to stick around and see what was for dessert (especially if it was me) – I’m pretty sure it was taller than me.

Speaking of size, have you ever heard about the spiders on the north shore? They are bigger than the birds who used to hang out on my balcony on Esplanade Avenue in Mid City. I’m told they’re benign, but I’m not the kind of guy to test theories like that.

My life is like that novelty song from 1974 by one-hit wonder Jim Stafford, “I Don’t Like Spiders & Snakes.” It was actually kind of a weird love song, but still.

Which is all kind of bizarro world. Because, on a clear day, I can see the New Orleans skyline from where I live. It’s like looking at Oz from all of 30 miles away. So close, yet so far. But it makes me feel still connected.

We kayak here. And in the daytime, splash around in the water. When we go kayaking at night, we wear those weird headband flashlights – kind of like miner’s hats if Lululemon designed miner’s hats. And every 20 feet, we see these red menacing eyes bobbing just above the surface of the bayou.

Just the eyes. Gators don’t reveal much else about themselves.

Like I needed one more thing to be afraid of. And then I realize: What am I thinking, splashing around in this water in the daytime! It’s not like killer reptiles sleep away the day like adult humans in a time of pandemic. They’re always there. Lurking.

But isn’t that what gives Louisiana it’s charm? Killer reptiles and spiders that could enter the fray with Godzilla and Kong and probably kick their asses?

Oh, and did I mention the critters? They’ve invaded my wall space. I hear them skittering at night. Skittering Critters. Great name for a band at Voodoo Fest, but not so much for housemates.

Sometimes I regret giving up my lease on Esplanade Avenue. The only gunshots I used to hear there were people killing each other a couple blocks away. Now, I have no idea where the gunshots come from.

Maybe I’m just too soft for this new life. Y’know, that Green Acres syndrome. I just adore a penthouse view. Darling, I love you, but give me Esplanade Avenue. (For those of you under 50 who have no idea what I’m talking about, Google it. Or tune in to MeTV weeknights at 8.30!)

I never thought I’d be the Zsa Zsa Gabor in this episode But this ain’t no rerun. So I bought a nice, sleek 9mm pistol so as to fit in with the neighbors, although we don’t actually know the neighbors. Everybody else lives so far away in the woods, we can’t even see their houses.

The one neighbor we do know lives across the highway. He is a professional gunsmith. (Cool job, right? What do you do for living, mate? “I make guns.”)

So I brought my new pistol over and asked him for a lesson in the care, cleaning and shooting of a new and unfamiliar firearm.

When we got around to the shooting part, the targets presented to me were all of human body silhouettes. I’m sure you’ve seen them in movies or on cop shows when they do a scene from a gun range.

“Oh, hell no,” I said. “I ain’t shooting any people with this gun. Do you have any targets with spiders or snakes?”

My mama, she would be proud. She was a pacifist. My dad kept his rifle hidden in his closet.

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