San Diego, California, late 1976 or early 1977. Now you may have noticed that when it comes to snake grabbing, Joanne does the grabbing and Ken does the cheering. But I'm not afraid to pick up a snake. It's just not my favorite thing.
I was subbing in a classroom one winter morning in San Diego for a teacher who kept two boas in glass cages. It was a sixth grade. Sixth grade teachers do strange things. This particular teacher had worked with the San Diego Zoo before her reincarnation as a sixth grade teacher and had even bottle fed baby gorillas. Probably the school was happy that she would settle for two modest-sized boa constrictors.
The office clerk asked me if I would object to looking at two snakes all day. Apparently they had learned to ask that question early in the year. I said no, I had absolutely no objection. Snakes were quiet, they were seldom disruptive, didn't throw tantrums or refuse to do their homework. The human students could learn a lot from the snakes' behavior, if they'd just pay attention.
So as I walked into the classroom, I saw on my right a large glass case with a boa happily sleeping inside. On my left, however, was an empty glass case where a boa used to be. Apparently someone had decided to leave the top of the case open and the snake took the opportunity to escape.
A young, female student teacher was present when I arrived. The two of us conducted a systemic, all points search and finally located the snake, not a very big one, maybe three feet at the outside, wrapped around a carton of teaching materials trying to keep warm.
Now I have always been a feminist, an egalitarian, and believe that women should have an equal opportunity to be heroes. So I convinced her we should toss a coin, loser has to put the snake back. Unfortunately, I lost the toss.
I grabbed the snake behind the head and the poor thing was so cold he rapidly coiled around my forearm and oozed himself back and forth, enjoying my warmth. If he had been a cat, he would have purred. Now I don't really mind snakes. They're fine animals, beautiful even. But I don't want to snuggle.
I tried to deposit the snake back into his glass case, but for some reason he didn't want to let go. I unwrapped one end and he wrapped the other end back. I finally shook him free and he landed with a thud on some pine cones that were in the bottom of his case. That couldn't have felt good, but I winced, apologized, and then got on with the business of the day.
I tell this story to show that I also can catch snakes. It's not my favorite thing. It's better than network television, but it's still not my favorite thing.