My friend, Sheriff Jim Wilson, recently told me this snake story. He and a buddy were horseback in West Texas working cattle. He came to a gate, dismounted and went to open the gate. As he lifted the wire of the gate post, a decent-size rattler took offense and struck at his leg. Fortunately, he was wearing high top boots and jeans so the fangs didn't puncture his skin. Still, at the moment of contact, the sheriff immediately disproved the old theory that white men can't jump. He finally settled back down to earth whereupon his horse began crow-hopping. Apparently, the horse was no fan of snakes either. Jim began multi-tasking, trying to calm his horse while simultaneously doing the one-legged snake dance. This dance does not involve a snake with one leg; rather, it features a person hopping on one of his legs while wildly swinging his other leg around in an effort to dislodge the snake from the seam of his Wranglers. Kind of like the Irish Riverdance if they had snakes in Ireland. In the midst of all this commotion, he heard the telltale sound of a hammer being cocked. He looked up and saw that his friend had drawn his pistol and was preparing to fire. "What are you doing??" the good sheriff yelled in a voice that was significantly higher than the dulcet baritone we've come to expect from him. Actually, I believe the more accurate quote would be “What in the HELL are you doing??” "Quit dancin' around like that," his friend urged him, "I can't get a good shot with you jumpin' around." It had become abundantly clear to Sheriff Wilson that his current situation was untenable and he needed to do something fast before it went even further south. He'd been in tougher scrapes in his life however, and he kept his wits about him. He realized that with its fangs firmly lodged in his jeans, old Mr. Rattler couldn't bite anything else. He stopped his snake dance long enough to reach down, grab the snake firmly behind the head, yank him off and fling him away. He got his horse calmed down and proceeded to shoot the snake. He didn't shoot his friend. He thought about it.
I've heard folks refer to some (most?) politicians as snakes. I think that's unfair. A lot of snakes are non-poisonous and as I mentioned above, even venomous snakes will generally not harm you unless they feel threatened. Seems to me that the vast majority of politicians ARE venomous and often engage in activities that cause us harm. Snakes may appear slimy but they really aren't. Politicians, on the other hand, may not initially appear slimy but they really ARE. A few snakes, the constrictors, may try to enfold you in their coils. ALL politicians will put the squeeze on you. What's worse, they tend to operate in packs (political parties) which makes them even more dangerous. Neither snakes nor politicians feel the least bit of warmth or affection toward the rest of us but at least snakes make no pretense that they do. Snakes help control the rodent population. Politicians ARE the rodents.
I'm glad I wrote this. I feel better about snakes. And I'd like to offer my sincere apologies to all the good snakes I've offended by using their name as an insult for politicians. I only wish our politicians had as much character as our snakes.