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sympathy for the devil, part 1

December 13, 2011

[Welcome to Chasing Maybes. Here, I stare down my preferences and prejudices, one Trivial Pursuit category at a time.  November’s category, Arts and Literature, has tumbled casually into the month of December.  There’s so much more to write on the topic, really, that I’m not quite ready to let it go.  I really hope you aren’t a stickler for the rules, because today I’m talking about my trip to the Texas Snake Farm and Animal World.  Art?  Literature?  Whatever.  I’m just happy to be here, and I hope you are, too.]

Are you like me?  Are you drowning in the deluge of holiday cards and school events, making lists but forgetting to check them twice, and (when you slow down enough to think about it) enjoying all of what’s good about December?  I’ve been writing less and reading more this month (I found an unlikely favorite in The Hunger Games series and am about to start The War of Art, thanks to my friend Courtney), largely because that is what my addled brain can handle.  I’ve been decorating and shopping.  I took a weekend trip to visit my aunt in Dallas, Starbucking and catching up with my mother and sister along the way.  I’ve been getting my literal and figurative houses in order.  I’ve been simultaneously missing my North Carolina friends and thanking God that we were able to move back to Texas to be closer to our families.  You know, stuff like that.

Before all of the December madness took hold, though, I took a short ride down I-35, accompanied by two wee sidekicks strapped into car seats.  Groupon in hand, we approached a shaky enigma from my youth:  we arrived at The Snake Farm.

Ewwwwwwww. I think it might be a Mexican Milk Snake, but I was too creeped out to write it down.

When I was growing up in San Antonio, there were lots of stories about the then-ramshackle, periodically shuttered building by the side of the highway.  “I heard a kid fell into one of the pits and got eaten by a boa constrictor,” was an oft-repeated legend.  “I heard it used to be a bordello,” was the fable repeated during my high school years.  Mostly, though, I didn’t think about the Snake Farm — a low-slung wooden building declaring its presence with a crude painting of a giant cobra — at all.

I bought a Groupon for The Snake Farm (officially, I think it is called Exotic Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo, but I’m not really sure) on impulse.  I didn’t read reviews on Yelp or consider my visit a maybe to be chased.  I have two sons who both love snakes and had a week off for Thanksgiving, so I decided to take them.  To say I didn’t invest much time in the decision is a true understatement.

When I shared this decision with friends, it was unpopular, to say the least.  “My tattoo artist says The Snake Farm is really sketchy,” was my favorite condemnation of the place.  Um…  her tattoo artist.  He said it was really sketchy.

But, I was not to be deterred.  This was, in part, due to the investment I’d already made in the Groupon, and, in part, due to the fact that I’d made the critical parenting mistake of telling my children we were going to the Snake Farm with more than 24 hours notice.  They were truly beside themselves with excitement, a reaction I employed to my advantage.  I used our visit as a behavior-modification carrot for a solid week (“Be sure to eat your broccoli!  You want to have enough energy to see alllllllll of the snakes at the Snake Farm!”) so there was absolutely no turning back from our prospective adventure, abysmal Yelp reviews and frightened tattoo artists be damned.

Hey, I’ll be back with the rest of The Snake Farm saga on Thursday.  I can’t wait to see you then.

Here’s to enigmas wrapped in mysteries clothed in fables.  I hope your day is of mythical proportions.  Thanks for showing up.

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