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The Boa Caper -- Part II

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Posted by Shannon Hiatt on March 18, 2001 at 10:15:27:

A year or so ago I posted the story I called the Boa caper. In that I outlined the near heart attack I had when my boa Sassafras moved across the back of a couch while an older woman sat thereon. She was not aware of the snake but I sure was.

Well, ole Sassafras wasn't through with her effect on folks quite yet. A year later, while I was a freshman at a local community college, I took Sassafras to a speech class as a "demonstration" speech. The instructor was an extraordinary woman. She was in her 60s. And she told me she was terried of snakes--any snakes. I reassured her that Sassafras was docile and an easy snake to handle. Little did I know!!!

It was a Winter quarter, January in Washington state, and pretty cold. In fact, it was 20 degrees outside when I slipped Sassafras into a box that just held her, by then, 6 1/2 feet of solid boa. She coiled into the box and I wrapped it with an old Army blanket.

The 20-mile trip was uneventful. Getting to class without attracting too much attention was also fairly easy. As I was second in the line up for the demonstration speech, I kept the box covered and wrapped in that drafy old classroom. The first speaker was a karate dude in his karate outfit. He deomnsrtated kicks and the like. Nice demonstration. The class enjoyed the whole thing. My turn, at last.

I walked up to the front of the class and placed the box on the table in front of me. Took the blanket off the box and then gave a quick synopisis of "how to safely handle a large snake." I asked the karate dude to stand by as a back-up, explaining to the neophytes that any snake this large should be handled with a second person available in the event of any problems. I assured them that there would be none. Again, little did I know.

I warned the class that I would extract the boa carefully from the box and show them how to handle it safely. I didn't want to surprise them too much. I gently reached in and after a bit of fumbling--my hands were pretty cold--I found the boa's head. Getting a solid, but not too tight, grip I gently pulled to extract the boa. Sassafras would have none of it. She pushed her colis out against the box. I couldn't budge that snake no matter what I did. Now I was a 210 pound fullback on the community college football team, so I knew I could force that snake out of the box. I HAD to force that snake out of the box! How can you get a grade for a demonstration speech if there is no demonstration? Besides, I had some "face" to save as well.

I finally felt Sassafras relax a bit. I had warmed my hands on the old radiator (heck, my Mom attended this college when it weas her high school back in 1946), and recahed in and pulled with all my 210 pounds. Sassafras had indeed relaxed and all 6 1/2 feet came out of that box in a hurry. I landed on the floor about five feet from the box, which was being held by the karate dude at this point, and had one angry (no pissed off as hell) boa writhing around on top of me. I looked up just in time to see the 60-year-old instructor reach the back of the classroom about .5 of a second ahead of the students. They crowed in the back and I heard a muffled scream and a groan or two. Or was that me?

By then Sassafras had lateched on to my arm with a coil, and my hand with her teeth. The blood ran freely and the coil tightened quickly. I was finally able to stand up, with the karate dude's help, and explain feebly that this was not a normal occurance when handling a boa. It was my fault, not the snake's. The instructor and my wussy classmates would have none of that. They implored me to return the "beast" to its box QUICKLY. With the karate dude's help, Sassafras was carefully uncoiled from my arm. I then extracted her teeth from my hand. She rolled into that box and I covered it with the Army blanket. The karate dude handed me his karate dude towl and I stopped the blood flow. A couple of the students had turned pretty white and I was afraid that there would soon be emesis to clean up as well as blood.

I actually got an "A" for that speech because I threatened, er mentioned, to the instructor that I could provide a repeat demonsration speech with an even more terrible boa--the rubber boa found in the Blue Mountains just above the campus. What fun!

Shannon Hiatt

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