“A Snake in the Garden of Campus Life,” by Randy Mazie

May 20th, 2020 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

A snake, man, is the easiest pet in the world to take care of. It’s raw. Buy a tank, bedding, a clay pot for water, a heat lamp, and you’re live!

You never have to walk a snake. No idiotic, tongue lapping, drooling canine needing to go out in the rain after you come home turnt from bong rips and shooters, with some last minute hookup who wants to perform some outrageous who-know-what, and the damn dog leash-in-mouth starts humping and you tell the perra to do her business somewhere else, but your bitch thinks you just called her a perra and now she’s grabbing her bag and she’s out the door. But, mi corazon, you cry. Too late!

Never get a dog. Screw dogs.

A snake won’t interfere with important university affairs. A snake raises up your desirability. When you tell some girl that you own a snake, they go Lady Ga-Ga. Their eyes pop. They get that pouty look. Some even squeal. Too hot.

Invite a chica over, take out your snake, and gently offer to let her touch it. She’ll squirm, tighten up her shoulders, slide her hands up to her cheeks, palms out, shaking, squealing slightly, as if the thought of holding that slithery thing is just crazy, and you’re dying to use the line: Mi novia, yo tengo una otra slithery thing that is even crazier y mas grande.

But you let it go, asking her if she’d like a cold one to which she giggles, “Sure,” with a cutesy shoulder shrug, which you figure means that she’s open to seeing more than just your snake.

So, mi amigos, a snake is a very effective pet. It also helps to have a Spanish speaking roommate who’ll teach you some primo Spanish. Tu comprende?

Chicas just love snakes y espanol! The sibilance drives them wild. The rolling r’s and n’s, the hisses and skin and sounds, esta muy erotica, so hot and primitive.

No hay nada mejor que esto! It doesn’t get any better than this, for sure.

Like the hook-up that leaves you in the morning without saying goodbye, the snake leaves no lasting imprint. Your campus life style or party schedule will not be ruled by it.

Clean the tank once a week. No mess, no smells. It’s not like The Litter Box. A cat is nasty. You hear arguments that cats are easy because there’s no walking, no feeding on demand, no combing fur or bathing. You just roll up your eyes and give them The Raised Eyebrow and say, “Sure. Sure. But what about The Litter Box?” And that is The End of that conversation.  Al final, de hecho, no más!

You feed a snake once a week. It’s the coolest thing.  Buy a couple of pinkies, a mouse or rat depending on the size of the snake, and watch your baby wrap itself around its dinner, suffocating it, and sliding that meal right down its gullet, forming the cutest little bulge in your sweetheart’s belly. Leave it alone for a few days to digest the repast – and it’s good to go again. Wrap it around your wrist or neck or your girlfriend’s chest, and life doesn’t get any better than this.

Snakes don’t get sick. But no, somehow you get a one that does! And when you find this out, it hurts bad. WTF? You’ve dealt with all the teasers, one night stands, the nasty come-on’s from the sloots, the rejections, the near hits-and-misses, and, most of all, the loneliness of campus life. But this, no, you didn’t see coming. This snake has become your bae, una mascota. She has seduced you.

Who’d have thought that some creature who charmed the first ever naked lady into eating a forbidden apple would ever worm, ha, its way into your heart? Man, you’ve been spun hard by a cool skinned cold blooded scaly long forked tongue air splitting twisty earthy and specious reptile.

So when you found what you found out, it hit you hard.

It was during winter break. Your folks loved the idea of you bringing a snake into their casa. You did catch that sarcasm, right? You invite your old man to watch her feed on two pinkies, laughing because your old man teases you about feeding her two Twinkies, which is his favorite food group, and why he is fifty pounds overweight. But she only eats one, and you worry about why, but go about your business thinking she’ll eat the other one later.

Except she doesn’t. You pick her up, and there it is!

Oh my God, you cry. What the hell is that? There, on her bottom, where her anus is, or where you think it should be, is this big bulging black slack balloon.

And you yell, “Mama, come here. Mamaaaaaaaa. Yooooouuuuuuu got to see this. C’merrrrrreeeeeeee!”

Your legs start pumping up and down, like pistons revvin’ up some souped up Camaro, or some rocket getting ready to launch you into hyperspace, except you’re not going anywhere, and you realize that you’re looking like a five year old who’s just got some skin burn after falling, waiting for his mama to come and make it all better.

Except mama blasts into the room, crazed, thinking a mouse has gotten loose because she’s got a plastic bag rolled around her hand, and she’s screaming, “Where is it?”  like she’s ready to catch the nasty sucker and pitch it hard out the friggin’ window.

“Mama, it’s not a mouse. It’s her ass, mama, it’s her freaking ass!”

She gives you The Eye, “Do not talk like that to your mother!”

And you’re holding the snake up in the air, with that disgusting thing hanging down from its rectum, and immediately she starts jumping up and down, just like you did a moment ago, shrieking, “Get that thing out of the house! Get that out of my house!”

She’s running back and forth, crying, “Oh my God.  Oh my God. ” And you start crying, “Oh my God” along with her.  The two of you are running back and forth, but you have the snake in your hand waving it like a loose grenade with the pin pulled out.  Your mother keeps seeing it, making her wail even louder.

When the two of you finally exhaust yourselves, you ask her, “Mama, what’s the matter with the snake’s anus?”

Your mama is still crazed. She looks at you and the snake with disgust. She is ashen, which reminds you of the time you tried to take the family car out for a joy ride, except your father caught you, and you hit the gas instead of the brake, not realizing the car was in drive, and slammed it through the garage wall into the kitchen. You almost killed su abuela who was washing the dishes at the time.

“That’s her anus?” she asked.

“Mama, you need to sit down.” You worry she might faint. You grab a chair for her. You decide to get her a glass of water, and without thinking, so you can get her one, you hand the snake to her. She screams, leaps out of the chair, knocks into the snake’s tank, and almost breaks the glass.

You try snatching the snake back. But she’s holding it at arm’s length away from her body, shaking it violently, so you can’t get to it. She’s howling again, “Get it away from me.”  But now she’s squeezing it so hard that whatever it is that is coming out of the snake’s ass looks like it might pop like a squeezed tube of toothpaste.

You pry the snake loose from her shaking hands, straighten up the chair, and plop your almost-ready-to- have a heart attack mama onto the seat.

“Mama? What’ll we do?”

“What do we do? You do. Not me. You take her to a vet, that’s what you do. But first you take me to the doctor. My heart’s killing me. The hell with the damn snake. What’s the matter with you anyway?”

You look down. What can you say?

Your mama recovers.  But the snake has a rare condition called an anal prolapse.  The vet placed her rectum back inside her where it belonged.  He charged you $350.00, even though you begged him for discount. For that money you could have taken your finger and…

Your mama demands that you stop referring to her as a mamasita, officially declares you a moron for having wasted all that money on a snake, and repeatedly berates you with, “Why couldn’t you just be normal and have gotten a dog or a cat?”

The snake didn’t recover. She died a little while later, and I cried for the first time that I can remember. After that, I stopped speaking Spanish, and I never said you again–when I really meant me.


Randy Mazie wanders the North Georgia Mountains dazed, having transubstantiated there from South Florida after growing up in New York City. Why he would leave the Big Apple or the Balmy Orange to the Cold-Turning-Blue-in-the-Face (of the) Blue Ridge Mountains is beyond anyone’s comprehension.  Except the views are beautiful. Speaking of views, his nonfiction works have been published in professional journals, and his poetry in The Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Silhouette Press/Here Comes Everyone, and most recently in the Anthology of Transcendent Poetry, Cosmographia Books, 2019.

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