Alvin Richardson

I didn’t become a full grown adult until about the age of 31 when our first daughter came along. Up until that time I had a grown body but the brain of an adolescent. I’m sure this comes as no real surprise to any of you but if you need confirmation of that assessment just ask my wife. With that in mind, I was always on the lookout for unique recreational opportunities and happened to hear about a live show in Augusta that featured the “Snake Lady.” Now, that sounded intriguing and could very well prove to be some high-quality entertainment so I decided to check it out.

Luckily, I had some sidekicks who, like me, were not yet in possession of their adult brains so we headed for Augusta to investigate what was billed to be “a paragon of delight,” according to the advertisements. I kind of thought we’d be taking in a show whose central theme was a lady snake trainer or perhaps a snake charmer but had I paid closer attention to the advertisement would have seen that such was not the case.

So off we went and by the time we found the place it became obvious that this particular performance did not feature a scientific nature theme but was rather a more exotic description. Surprisingly, it was not located in an auditorium or on the grounds of a zoo but was actually in the bowels of downtown Augusta. Hmm, wonder what in the world is going on here. Maybe I read the advertisement wrong. Nope. The billboard said, “Snake Lady” right there in big lights so we went on in.

There were lots of people already in there so I surmised that it must be a very popular show even though the large room was kind of dim, smoky and ratty looking. We settled in to wait for the featured attraction and my friends and I were excited about seeing what would actually transpire. We had to suffer through some opening acts that made my eyes pop out and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how those performances could in any way be related to a lady who was going to give a lecture or educational program on snakes.

I should pause to make a point here. You are all well aware that I’ve never particularly cared for snakes but my assumption was that I’d be safe in this situation. The snakes wouldn’t be sneaking up on me while working in the yard or woods and I’d be in a secure position in the audience and not in close proximity with them. I was further assured because there would be a professional snake handler in charge of the proceedings. With those things in mind, I didn’t even wear my snake boots that Mama had taught me to wear back in the day. I should also say that one of my friends that had tagged along had a fear of snakes that far exceeded my own and I could tell that he was already nervous.

Thus, we waited patiently for the “Snake Lady.” I figured she’d be announced over the intercom and come out on the stage for her presentation but that, like many of the things I’d presumed about this escapade, was dreadfully misguided.

As things turned out she appeared unannounced from somewhere in the back of the room and came gliding up behind our table. We were caught totally off guard. I must report to you that she was toting the biggest snake I’ve ever seen (it was a python, anaconda or close kin to one of those species) and it was wrapped around her neck, arms and legs. It had a head as big as a newborn calf, an evil pair of black, bulging eyes and a forked tongue that came curling out of its mouth. To top it off, the lady was in a state of near-nakedness that made the spectacle even more terrifying.

My friend who was more scared of snakes than I spotted her first. He knocked over three bar stools, a large table, two fat waitresses and an enormous bouncer dude as he made for the exit. I, being not quite as large or stout but more agile than my friend, followed in his wake by hurdling over the downed waitresses and caroming off the bouncer who had recovered his footing. Nonetheless, I made good time on the way out and never looked back.

In the aftermath of this chilling event, I began having nightmares and refused to do yard work in weeds more than six inches tall. It also curbed my appetite for “unique recreational opportunities” and was a significant factor in helping my adolescent brain move forward into adulthood. It also taught me the value of reading advertisements more thoroughly. No more snake adventures for me.

Yeah right.

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