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I think I would have been okay with the boa constrictor around my neck until its owner put another one on top of it. He was a skinny hyper guy with tanned leather for skin. This was not pleasant. The snakes -- each about 6 feet long -- were writhing restlessly over my shoulders and one was putting its head disturbingly near my left breast. The second boa constructor was yellow - the color of maize, and it was definitely edgy.
"Hey, it's hungry, tiene hambre y me da asco," I said. The skinny guy moved the yellow one closer to my neck and laughed.
"Si, she's hungry, but if you don't smell like a rat she won't bite you," he said. I looked at his face. He had blue eyes and dark curly hair, tangled, but not dredlocked. I didn't want to hurt his feelings, but I hated his snakes. I thought it was exploitation, too. Exploiting my fears. Exploiting the reptiles. Exploiting people's fantasies about what it means to be in a place of the eternal carnivalesque. I loved it. Welcome to
Versace was murdered 500 yards from here and his sister still lives in the house. and a light on in a second-floor bedroom window.
He was savagely killed in a moldering Italianate Sunset Boulevard-esque mansion facing the beach. And now, the mansion was a featured stop on a "Graveline Tours" bus. Flashbulbs blinded us as we stood on the sidewalk in front of the wrought-iron fence that skirted the house. Fame was equally glaring and painful.
"Look, the snake he bit me once, but I had been carrying the little ratoncitos by their little colitas --- look here at where he bit his sister snake," he said. He then wrapped the two snakes around Nick, my "compañero," who was being surprisingly good-natured about all this. After all, if the boa constrictors got any more restless, we'd die together, our necks crushed in the same, loving, snakey embrace.
"This makes a good photo for the two of you -- something to show your grandchildren." Obviously he thought Nick and I were married. The truth was, we had met each for the first time about six hours earlier.
"Saca la foto, please - me voy a desmayar, te juro, and if I faint, I'll fall on them," I tried to keep the panic out of my voice. Maybe they were pythons. Or anacondas. It didn't matter. I didn't want them to think I smelled even vaguely rodent.
"Ja, you've got a good sense of humor, sister -- they're stronger than you. You can't hurt them."
"Too bad," I thought.
In the photo he charged Nick 15 bucks for, I was shamming a smile, I guess the best approach would have been trying to look hip and cool, with the yellow?maize python flicking its tongue over the space between my breasts, and the dark-brown sister curling itself itself around my shoulder, lifting its head and staring straight at the camera.
Nick looked pretty relaxed about it all, amazingly enough. And, now I had a Polaroid to prove I had actually handled a baby boa (or python). I could picture myself in a boat trip down the Amazon or the