Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Waking the Gator

Ok true story....

When I was about 11 or 12, I think, our family was traveling and stopped at a reptile park. We decided to stay and watch the alligator show. There was a big fenced in ring with a shallow "pond" at one end and several alligators in it. The seats were ringside.

Ok, for one trick, the wrangler got a gator and flipped him over on his back to put him to sleep. Then he asked for a volunteer. My hand SHOT up in the air then I looked around and realized "No one else is volunteering....hmmm" and jerked my hand down. Too late. He saw me and called me in. At this point I realized that my exuberance just dun wrote a check my body did not really want to cash.

So I walk into the big pen with a lot of gators lounging by some water and not to terribly far from where I was and nothing between me and them. He said "We are going to wake this gator up. See that gate you just came in? that is where we are going to go OUT. FAST.".

Uh huh.....ummmm....oookkkkk .... I think at that point I wondered if he was going to take point or bring up the rear...I mean surely it would be bad form to let the little cross-eyed tourist take the hit, right?? RIGHT??

Now at this point he taught me a VERY cool thing...if you ever feel the need to wake an alligator that you just flipped over, you run your knuckles from his throat to his belly button. Y'know...just FYI....

So on the count of three, with my one good eye racing between the sleeping gator at my feet and the fully conscious gators not 20 feet from me ("How fast can they run again, Mr. Gator Man?"), I ran my trembling fingers down the underside of the gator and started to take off......and was stopped by the Gator Man.

Dagnabit, I did not press hard enough and the gator is still stacking zzz's. The man told me to try again, and at this point I have to think "Y'know, he looks pretty comfy and *I* certainly could use a nap...let's just let sleeping gators lie.". But no dice and I tried again.

DAGNABIT AGAIN! It's a swing and a miss! Again with the sleeping gator, again with me trying to run away, and again with Mr. Gator Man catching me before I escape.


Because at this point I was putting the other gators (and the crowd) asleep from boredom, he said that we would do it together Ready?....1...2...3! Gave a tummy noogie to the gator, BOLTED out the gate and learned a VERY important lesson: Never volunteer without knowing what you are volunteering for first, and NEVER, I repeat, NEVER volunteer to a man standing in a ring full of gators....

That’s just good advice.

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