While I dug fat knees into her carpet, trying not to wet myself, my second grade teacher called roll: “Big Lupe. Little Lupe. Pretty Lupe. Ugly Lupe. Lupe with glasses. Lupe with the extra thick glasses. The Lupe that’s gonna get pregnant in seventh grade. The Lupe that’s pregnant right now. Facundo.”
My bladder throbbed from so much excitement, I could’ve wizzed standing up and shot skeet.
Arriving at my name, my short-haired teacher mumbled, “Not. Here.” She flicked her pencil to mark me absent.
“HERE!” I screamed.
Her stunned eyeballs sought me among the Mexicans. They settled on my trembling fur.
“Oh,” she creaked, “you’re quiet today.”
“YEAH!” I agreed. I couldn’t dyke it up any longer. Show and tell was going to happen right now. Into the air, I thrust the undulating paper sack I’d been clutching. Before leaving the house, I’d folded it over at the top, stapled it twice, and with a letter opener, sliced gills along its sides.
“IT’S A SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKKKKKEEEEEEEEE!” I screamed and tore open the flesh-colored wrapper, unleashing my inner reptile.
Since the day I tore open my sack, I’ve become sort of a a closet reptile person. I don’t share my sack-ripping story often.
My uncle and brother are totally out reptile guys. So’s my dad.
As a kid, my dad actively snaked in front of us.
He’d see a hot snake sunning itself in the middle of a country road, and instead of squishing it with our Aerostar, he’d pull to the dirt shoulder, grab his purse, jog to the snake, snatch it off the asphalt, toss it in his pocketbook, and jiggle back to our van. My brother and I would argue over who’d get to hold Dad’s purse, and at home, we’d ceremoniously carry it to the trashcans. Dad would dump the snake into the emptiest one and it would excite us to know that there was a snake nearby.
It was like having the devil stay on our driveway.
“SHIT!” Dad would yell. “SHIT! WHO TOOK OUT THE TRASH? DON’T YOU REMEMBER? THERE’S A SNAKE OUT THERE!”
Dad would put on his lifting pants, teal sweats, and rush outside to heave out the sack that my mom had dumped on top of our treasure.
After taking a few resuscitative gasps, the snake would wheezzze, “Thankssss, Bob.”
My brother has a snake named Ivan.
Ivan can’t stand Pussy Riot.
My brother and his misogynistic reptile share a condominium, and sometimes, Ivan gets an itch to go exploring. To find him, my brother need only follow the screams.
Ivan adores the warm, flat crawl space under other people’s fridges.
My uncle keeps a turtle, two ball pythons, two iguanas, and four chickens.
While he’s been at the hospital, I’ve been swinging by to feed and water his zoo.
Tripping into my uncle’s backyard, past broken bicycles and dithering fowl, I schlepped romaine to his eldest iguana’s cage. Stepping around the side of the rickety car port, I watched a breeze catch Saint Ignatius’ rusty door and push it. It was hanging open! His little water trough rested a foot away!
Some asshole had tried to iguananap him!
I suspected Colombians.
I also suspected that, perhaps, another well-intentioned relative had swung by to care for the animals, become overwhelmed by the task, and split. I realized how ridiculous this thought was and discarded it in favor of a FARC conspiracy.
After assigning chicken duty to the neighbors and securing the other reptiles in the house, I told Saint Ignatius, “We’re not sure when you you’re BFF is coming home so you’re comin’ with me.”
Grabbing bars, I dragged Saint’s cage across dusty dirt and crab grass, to the wooden gate. I used my superhuman strength to lift the cage over my head and crab walk it down the driveway, to my Honda Fit. My Honda Fit was built to transport animals. In the brochure the Honda salesman used to seduce us into purchasing it was a picture of a mature llama comfortably riding in the backseat. Of course we bought the damn vehicle.
To smooth jazz, I chauffeured Saint from his neck of LA County to mine, and pulling up to my garage, I explained, “This is where you’ll be living. Since it’s warm tonight, you’ll be staying on the side of the house, by the guava tree. Feel free to eat any cockroaches. I hate cucarachas. Their antennas remind me of impertinent nipple hair.”
TJ crept down the porch steps to welcome her small, green adopted son. As she approached the car and peered into the hatchback, the sight of his petite claws made her green.
“Saint has two mommies,” I whispered to her, seductively.
Saint’s white mommy passed out.
This adoption is going to be very hard for her. Her greatest fear is the thought of any reptile.