“Herping”. Worst Hobby Name Ever.

The Gonzo Journals

January 28th, 2023

There was a time in my life when I loathed snakes. I was petrified yet fascinated by everything about them. How could something so “handicapped” be so threatening?

I think it all began back in the late 1970’s when I was child. My family and I were sitting in a restaurant at Town East Mall on the outskirts of Dallas, Texas when a commotion occurred outside. The pet store across the way was relieving itself of patrons as though a fire was reported. It was actually much worse.

Not being anywhere in the vicinity of modern pet sale regulations, the store was currently housing a deadly Black Mamba snake for any patron with more money than common sense. Do you know what a Black Mamba is? Here’s an entertaining scene from Kill Bill Vol. 2 which explains it all…

Ah, the seventies. Can you believe pet stores sold shit like that? Capitalism. There’s a possibility this wasn’t completely allowed within the confines of the law, but the store was offering this “pet” to the public in the name of profit. The snake, being a snake, discovered a fault in its enclosure and, as with all captive beings, exploited it in a desperate attempt at freedom. Eventually, a store clerk heard the screams and arrived on scene to relieve the poor creature of its head. I’m not sure if all merchants keep an emergency machete beneath their counters but this one did. Good for the nearby humans, not so good for the innocent serpent.

Not long after that, my brothers and I were playing outdoors at our country home. We weren’t wealthy enough to own the 600 acre ranch, but we rented a house upon the property for several years. Snakes were known to pop up from time to time, and mostly during inconvenient circumstances. Each instance solidified my fear of those armless, legless destructors with little chance of changing my impressionable mind.

As I grew into an adult, the fear remained. Often, I would need to park and cringe for a good half hour upon accidentally running over one with my vehicle. If a snake appeared on television, I watched with ultimate interest, but knew deep in my heart I’d never have the courage to approach such a creature. Handling was totally out of the question.

The final nail in the coffin occurred during my military days with a hike into the southeastern Arizona mountains via Fort Huachuca. Leaping before looking, I found a rather distraight Black Tailed Rattlesnake between my legs. There was nowhere to go without being bitten and envenomated. My life flashed before my eyes. Up until that point, that life I viewed was boring as fuck! Maybe this is why I’ve stepped it up a few dozen notches since then.

After what seemed like hours, the snake ceased rattling – which sounds nothing in real life like it does on television – and crawled away to do snake things. I still couldn’t move my petrified legs for an additional hour. We encountered another one on the way back to the truck making my day even more difficult to endure. I hated them. All of them.

In hindsight, I would’ve died if that rattlesnake failed to show restraint. My partner and I were easily four hours away from our vehicle and most of that time would’ve been spent carefully descending a mountainside. The strain of the enhanced physical activity would’ve surely quickened my demise.

Five years after leaving military service, I returned to my home in north Texas and reintroduced to friends who I believed were lost forever. I use the term “friends” loosely since NONE of these individuals are currently in my life. That’s another story altogether. Maybe someday.

Regardless, one of those “friends” placed a small snake atop my hand without pinging my attention. I was petrified, yet infatuated, and soon succumbed to bravery involving the strange being who unknowingly hugged my hand. We stared into each other’s eyes curiously. I was immediately bitten. Not physically, but figuratively. I had to have one.

It’s been almost twenty years, and I’ve own several different species of snakes. They are such beautiful, interesting creatures and I actually prefer them to all other pet companions. Dogs and cats, although cute, are needy. The snake needs sustenance. Nothing else. It won’t claw your furniture or eat your television remote control. It doesn’t care that you’re home from work and it sure as Hell doesn’t want to play fetch. Give it heat, give it food, give it water, and give it space. Honestly, I’ve never asked for much more than those necessities myself.

The study of reptiles and amphibians is called herpetology. Unfortunately, most participants within the community refer to the study as “herping”. That’s unfortunate. Herping was also what we called looking for a girlfriend on the parking lots during a weekend in my hometown of Greenville, Texas (insert banjos sound here).

Now, you may be asking yourself “did this guy just write this entire blog to poke fun at skank chicks from his high school days with a single line of text”? Yes. The answer to your question is one hundred percent “yes”. I like snakes way more than I like tweaked out, toothless, meth addicts rubbing their gums together like horny mouth crickets in search of an unsuspecting child support donation. Stay classy, north Texas.

Oh yeah. Also, snakes kick ass. The end.

Thanks for sticking with me up until this point. If you liked what you just read, please comment, like, subscribe, share, or all four. You never know what I’ll peck out next…



2 responses to ““Herping”. Worst Hobby Name Ever.”

  1. spwilcen Avatar

    Thoroughly enjoyable read, start to finish.

    Liked by 1 person

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