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In search of sock-swallowing snakes….

July 26th, 2003 · 2 Comments

A couple weeks ago, Reptile Man came to the Bainbridge Library , sharing his assortment of snakes and other creatures with a standing-room-only crowd of children. Despite DVDs, CDs, video games and all sorts of animated toys that perform on demand, still nothing can compete with the thrill of seeing live reptiles creeping across the carpet at your local library.

Arriving fifteen minutes early, we found the room already crammed to capacity: children, children everywhere, on the chairs, on the floor, squeezed into the open doorways, sitting on shoulders and laps. It was the kind of crowd and air of anticipation one might expect for a leather-clad rock star with a name like Bono or Eminem, not clean-shaven Docker-wearing “Reptile Man”. Apparently Scott Petersen, his real name, has quite a fan club, a strong following among the under-12 set, many of whom had seen him perform at school.

Kids gasped as Reptile Man handled his animals, pulling cobras and pythons out of plastic boxes, like a magician performing tricks. He stroked an alligator’s eyes so she would fall asleep at the count of three, and aroused the cobra to display its defense against mongoose: an “eye” on the hood. A tortoise and an iguana wandered free on the floor. He chose a little girl we knew from our neighborhood, a 3-year-old with long blond curls, draping a snake around her shoulders as a stole: the perfect model for a live feather “boa”.

While Reptile Man was speaking to the crowd, one snake, a large python he had been holding, inserted itself into the gap between two buttons, slithering across his chest, beneath his shirt and emerging out an arm hole. The giggling began. “Oh, this happens every day,” he responded, pulling the python out through his shirt sleeve. This impressed me: such clever creatures, these snakes, always sneaking somewhere to slither and hide….After the show had ended, Reptile Man let children pet some of the animals. A row of boys eagerly held the albino yellow python. We petted it too….

…then we came home and socks started disappearing…I know many other moms have told me about their odd sock boxes, but in the past I confess I could not relate. All our socks always had mates. When others would mention their lonely leftovers, it would sound as if their washers were possessed, as if the machines spontaneously swallowed socks, like a snake swallowing supper. I couldn’t understand. After folding a load of laundry, I’d always have neat piles of pairs to put away. But now I know. My pride is gone. Somehow our family now has missing sock syndrome….

Looking in Abigail’s drawer I’ll find one sock with pink trim, one sock with blue trim, one knit sock and one lace sock. All she seems to have are strange singles. Michaela also has the same problem, and her feet have even out grown most of her mismatched socks. Perhaps it is that we now have more children and older children in our family that these single socks started multiplying – I can’t keep on top of everything as I used to do. Or maybe it is the girls’ habit of wearing unmatched socks anyway.

In the past few weeks, whenever I would tell the girls to go put on socks, they’d complain, “I don’t have any.” Of course, with my intense work on the deck recently I haven’t been able to do as much aundry, but I was surprised at the scarcity of socks: they had become a rare commodity, clean or dirty. I found myself retrieving worn ones from the hamper, shaking off the sand: clearly an emergency solution.

So this week I bought 20 pairs of socks: a pack of 10 for Abigail and a pack of 10 for Michaela. That makes a total of 40 socks. 40 brand new socks for two little girls to wear: should last them at least through one week – don’t you think?! Even in summer time, when socks get wet at the beach, socks get pea gravel at the playground, socks get forgotten at a friends house and socks get stained at picnics.

Yesterday I did four loads of laundry, washing all 40 socks along with some other ones. After folding all the clothes and all the pairs of new little socks –
Oh no,, I had two odd red ones remaining – one red sock of Abigail’s and one of Michaela’s! One trip in the washer round and round, one trip in the dryer round and round, sit down to fold the laundry and some are already missing!

I was amazed….it got me thinking….I remembered friends’ laundry machines that swallowed socks…I remembered Reptile Man and his sneaky python…and concluded….there must be a sock-swallowing snake in our laundry room – the only explanation. Yes, that’s it…a little serpent must have slid inside someone’s shirt and hitched a ride home with us from the library.

Maybe I should get Reptile Man to come and inspect the washer and dryer. Maybe he’d find another python friend to add to his collection, a rare (or not-so rare) sock-swallowing species. Maybe he could teach it tricks – like how to wrap around ankles or how to beg for socks, how to tie knots, or maybe even how to knit….

Or maybe I should look a little longer- oh, there are the socks, hidden beneath a set of sheets….too bad, it was a good excuse to call Reptile Man to the rescue – bet we could have financed his visit by selling tickets, front row seats on our carpeted stairs…and next time I’ve got to get his autograph…his or the alligator’s….

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Katherine // Jul 28, 2003 at 9:51 am

    Our mismatched socks are in Emily’s forlorn top drawer (one she can’t really reach)…and we have, at the moment, only three poor souls in there: one pale yellow and one white of Emily’s, and one white sock of mine!

  • 2 Patricia A. Taylor // Jul 28, 2003 at 12:40 pm

    I laughed and laughed! You do not know it, but I have some old single socks which my first husband wore and he passed away in 1994! I never throw anything out! I keep thinking I will make puppets of them or use them for stuffing in dolls. Sigh…our socks are the adventurous kind, for sure! If they could only talk, the ones that got away!