He was 7 ½ feet and meaner then hell! I mean, his head was as big as my hand and his eyes were a fire-flame orange, and they seemed to say, “I will kill you and eat you!”
I know, I know, you are wondering what on Earth this has to do with swimming… well, I keep telling you that the experiences you have with your teammates will are building the memories of your lifetime, right? Well, this is one of those memories, or perhaps you could call it a Joeism.
When I was swimming in college, weird exotic animals were easy to come by, so of course, my roommate, fellow swimmer Ben Bates and I had some. I had many snakes, ranging from 2 feet to over 10 feet, had alligators, birds, flying squirrels, you name it! But the one that took the cake was a nasty, I mean, severely cruel, reticulated python. He would draw blood every time he would bite…and his fangs would go very deep!
Whenever I looked at him, he’d launch out at me, when anybody walked by, he struck. (Yes, he was a demented serpent that I wish I’d never purchased!)
Fast forward to the day LSU was playing Florida in football (athletes lived in the stadium—Yon Hall), and Gainesville was absolutely filled to the gills, with people. We started having guards at the bottom of the stairs so people wouldn’t sneak into the athletic dorm and vandalize the place while we were at the game.
Immediately after the game I walked down to the bottom with the snake I named 96 dollar A$$h-le (this is a family website). While I was downstairs with this devil snake, one guard (let’s call him Marvin), a 30+ year-old man said, “Nice snake.” So of course, I had the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” look in my eye when I had an idea.
Hmmm—talk about the snake and see if he is interested!
So we continued and I told him that the snake was just a little testy and perhaps needs to be held more, worked with, blah, blah, blah. Marvin said, “Oh I am a snake charmer and I love to break in snakes.” Uh, yeah, right! He said, “Let me change out of the security stuff and meet you later up in the dorm.” I said “sounds good, see you tonight.”
So I immediately went upstairs and to tell my teammates the whole story about the guard and that he is a snake charmer and loves to work on snakes to calm them down. We all agreed we could finally get rid of the snake! (Earlier that month he was eating in the hallway and wouldn’t let anyone pass or get near it. So the group was ready to say see ya!)
So Marvin came upstairs, nicely dressed and came into Ricky Green and Jayme Taylor’s dorm room. The men’s swim team was in there and we were all wondering what was going to happen…could this guy actually have a way with snakes?
Marvin sat in the middle and I had the snake with me and I could tell that it wasn’t in a very good mood….actually the snake seemed a bit ticked off that I was handling him! After untangling one of the world’s largest breeds of snake from my arm, anxious Marvin took the snake and let it wrap around his scrawny arm. He started talking to it, charming in fact, speaking in a very calm voice and handling him with ease.
All the swimmers looked at each other, shaking heads and saying no way, they couldn’t believe it! I was thinking, “I guess he does know what he is doing!” Marvin even kissed the snake on the nose!
Well, before I go any further with the story, just remember that looks can be deceiving and not everything is as it seems. Just as Marvin the Snake Charmer got comfortable with the serpent, WACK! From out of nowhere, it attacked Marvin in the ear!
The snake latched on to the side of his head with fangs fully engaged! Massive blood spurted from Marvin’s ear and everybody jumped back and got out of the way.
As Marvin tried to grab the snake, it struck again, this time tagging Marvin in back of the elbow…..More blood. At this point I was saying to myself, “I am in so much trouble.”
We wrestled the snake away from Marvin, washed him off and it is probably obvious that Marvin didn’t want the snake after all. How I got rid of it is another story.
So I ask you, my friends, is this memory truth, Joeism, or half-truth? And, better yet, I wonder how Marvin tells this story to his friends!