Tuesday, June 17, 2008


...Or CC loves Laura Lippman and identifies with this article.

At the ripe old age of 19, I bummed around India for a month and a half with a bunch of folks from college, including a guy who was known to the whole campus as "Gay Chuck,*" a nickname he relished. GC was half white and half African American, and wherever we went in India, people seemed to take GC as being from India, just from a different part of India than they were.

So GC and I hatched this plan. For most of the trip, we went around together. He was the clever Indian husband, careful with the family's money, and I was the flightly American wife who simply had to have some little trinket. We played "Good Cop, Bad Cop" on the salespeople in the marketplaces and got just about everything for cheaper prices than everyone else on our trip. (Flighty American wife that I was, I sometimes would pay the original asking price with a wink while Chuck was pretending to look away. Saving money was only a side objective, we really wanted to get better deals than our friends were getting.)

In retrospect, I am sort of amazed that this worked, and I have long wondered whether the dealers gave us low prices because we were so darn entertaining, not because our little vaudeville routine fooled anybody.

Anyway, we did this huge walk around Mysore, and about halfway through, there was a dealer selling these hideous, life-sized wooden cobras. GC and I stood there, looking at them and whispering snarky things to one another about them for a full five minutes, then moved on.

But I kept thinking about the snake.

We were most of the way back, less than a mile from the hotel, when I turned to GC,

"I'm sorry, darlin', but I think I need one of those snakes."

Clearly I was playing the flighty American wife to the hilt.

Good sport that he was, Chuck walked with me all the way back. By the time we got back to the hotel, almost all of our friends were back. We set the snake down on the dining room table in the common room and it elicited a very satisfying scream of terror from one of our traveling companions when she walked into the room to find it staring at her.

I brought a lot of stuff back from India. Most of it, I gave away. Some of it is packed away in the attic. One tablecloth I bought in Mumbai is still in regular rotation when I give parties.

And there's the snake, always the snake.

Right now, the snake sits on a knicknack shelf built into my dining room wall, posed, as ever, to strike. That snake has been prominently displayed in five different dorm rooms, houses and apartments in four different states, though one summer when we lived with my mother-in-law my husband and I thought it would be prudent to keep it packed away.

A few weeks ago, ZombieKid's teacher gave him an assignment where he had to pick ten, and only ten, objects from his house to take with him when he moved and write an essay about the one of them he would pick if he could only take one. I rarely develop emotional attachments to objects. When Jana-who-creates told me about this assignment, I certainly could imagine it causing crying jags from every kid in the class, but I had trouble coming up with even ten things that couldn't be replaced.

My wedding album was the only object to spring immediately to mind.

I'd forgotten the snake. But now that I've remembered it, I have trouble imagining living anywhere without being under its watchful eye.

Funny how some things grab ahold of you and won't let go.


*There were no other guys on campus named Chuck at this time.

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