Thursday, March 11, 2010

Meet Reggie

Ok I'll admit; B and I own a pet snake, purchased by B in Sydney before me met, and gladly adopted by me after we did.

I bet you think we're all bit weird now.

So here's the headache that ensued when we decided to pack up and move our family to Hong Kong:

B was keen on bringing Reggie along to Hong Kong with us, but frankly, I was convinced the snake’s crabby moods rendered him a little too precious for the wilder flavours of Chinese mice. Plus, he was a homebody and not nearly adventurous enough - but heck - neither was I and I’d signed up for this lunacy.

I’d also been told apartments are miniscule and ridiculously expensive in Hong Kong, and rents are cleverly calculated on the square footage of the total floor area, which includes the car park, foyer, elevator and stairwell. I’d be dammed if I would surrender pricey and downright palatial square inches to Reggie. So I was more than comfortable when we discovered exporting native Australian wildlife is actually illegal.

I would miss him though, and had admittedly started to bond with the cold-blooded creature, whose outright Siberian attitude couldn’t have connected with us less. His simplistic life of sitting under a log or on upon a tree branch was rather zen-like, and I envied his uncomplicated existence and lack of choice - a fundamental human right I had always struggled to cope with.

Reggie and his random bouts of depression had undoubtedly become a part of us, so we conspired to find a willing participant in our quest to keep him in the family. All we needed was a snake-sitter.

The first and most obvious choice was my mum. She’d published a book all about native Australian animals and how to care for them. A nature lover who hardly left the house and with the knowledge, she was perfect! Posing the idea went somewhat like this:

“Mum, will you take Reggie while we’re away? Just to baby-sit, we’d like him back in a few years.”


“Mum, are you there?”

My sister and her boyfriend were equally excellent candidates. Both laid-back, grungy rock singers, they had a stable home in the bush and were into all that dark stuff. They thought Reggie had oodles of cool and had even found a place for him in the band, before casually asking me about the feeding process.

I explained, “It’s not that bad, you just have to defrost a mouse on the stove, and then offer it to Reggie with tweezers. Sometimes he won’t eat it, so you then need to squash its brains until yellow stuff oozes out, as he doesn’t like the smell. If that doesn’t work, try slicing its belly open so warm blood drips out”.

They pulled out.

B's family was out of the question because (mercifully for them) they all lived in Canada, so we began casually dropping the idea into conversation with friends. This went along the lines of:

Friend: “So have you sorted everything out?”

Me: “Pretty much! Still looking for a home for Reggie, haha”

Friend: “Haha”

Me: “Don’t suppose you want to rescue him?”

Friend: “Haha”

Me: “No really, would you like to take him?”

Friend: “Haha”

Me: “Please?”

Days from leaving, we still hadn’t found Reggie a home and, with anguished hearts, packed up his three possessions and registered him on a snake-selling website under the headline “Urgent Sale!” We took happy snaps of him in several family-friendly poses with ambient lighting, carefully filled out the “About Me” section and built him a little profile, much like a personals ad (sparing him a public advertisement of his melancholic issues of course).

At the eleventh hour though he’d had no enquiries, and homeless Reggie was still log-bound in our lounge room, blissfully unaware of his rejected state, and living amid a surge of garbage and boxes. I was seriously considering wishing him all the very best in my neighbour’s bushes when I made an impromptu decision to bring this quandary up with my colleague who sat across from me at work, more for reaction than actual result. A hard-working but beautifully manicured woman with two kids, the idea of this friend taking Reggie was utterly preposterous, but I went hell for leather, accompanied by my best sarcastic grin that screamed, I know it would be a cold day in hell before you say yes to this.

Me: “Don’t suppose you want to take our snake?”

Her: “Sure.”

Me: Hyperventilating and choking in a supreme state of shock, requiring the Heimlich Maneuver.

So after being declined by an animal expert, jilted by hard rockers, and shunned by pretty much every friend I’ve ever known, Reggie went to live with a nice, normal family in the burbs. Last time we checked in, he was eating, sleeping, sitting and pooping as normal, and still had an attitude that could freeze the fires of hell. But he was ours.

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