COLUMNS

Hating snakes, but loving the Roundup

Thom Hanrahan Brownwood Bulletin Editor

Well, that was an experience.

Yesterday morning and afternoon, I experienced my first Rattlesnake Roundup. First of all let me preface this by disclosing at the top that I absolutely hate snakes. Not just poisonous ones, either. And my dislike of them is not just the getting the creeps, either. It is bordering on the Indiana Jones, phobic to the point of needing therapy.

I’m not a fan of snakes, is what I am saying.

But when there are other people in that pen and there is some good, solid wood and plexiglass between us the creatures are kind of fascinating. I was amazed at how the creatures would lay together in corners of the enclosure at the Brownwood Coliseum in massive piles and yet never turn on each other.

It was likewise fascinating to watch as the great majority of the snakes that were there seemed to ignore the handlers who were in the pen until one of them initiated contact with the snake.

With my luck, they would see me coming and see 175 pounds of city transplant and go into a piranha-like feeding frenzy on me. But these guys would see an occasional strike at an ankle that was well-protected by thick boots. I listened in on a television interview with Landon Schulze this morning. Schulze was one of the people handling the snakes on Saturday. He told the television reporter that although he had been bitten multiple times, he only really had to get serious medical help once. And he’s been doing this stuff for years. Now I don’t know about you folks, but getting bitten by a creature with deadly venom and fangs like hypodermic needles doesn’t sound like a fun hobby to me. If there is a chance of getting bitten, I ain’t playin.’

Oh, yeah. And it’s snakes.

But watching Schulze and the other guys do that was kind of fascinating. I mean we know Jackie Bibby is going to do crazy stuff with snakes. That’s his deal. Evel Knievel jumped busses and canyons. Bibby messes with snakes. These guys, though, look like the guy having a beer two stools down at Humphrey Pete’s. It’s the same quality that made Jimmy Stewart a star. Real men could relate to him.

“Hey, I might not be Cary Grant, but I could be Jimmy Stewart.”

For the younger crowd scratching its collective head, substitute Adam Levine for Cary Grant and Jonah Hill for Jimmy Stewart and you’ll see my point a little more clearly.

I will watch snakes in contained environments and on NatGeo, man. I will even watch snakes in some really bad Hollywood movies. But not face to face.

Glad I moved to west-central Texas where I’ll never see a snake.

And call me corny, but I liked the carnival part of this weekends events. I got finished with the Saturday edition of the Bulletin at the unacceptable hour of 10 p.m. Friday and started home. Then I saw the ferris wheel in front of the Coliseum all lit up. I went back to the office, got the best camera we have, and headed over to the carnival.

The photos I took are on our website at www.brownwoodtx.com (satisfied, boss?)

Really, I had a blast. A carnival at night is cool. It wasn’t crowded. The weather was nice. I bought a slice of pizza and the guy gave me two just for not taking his picture. And one of the guys manning a booth started a conversation with me about sustaining our planet.

It was like a Fellini movie with a tilt-a-whirl.

The thing that got me about this weekend was all the different foods that seemed to be available at the Roundup. I mean, I pretty much wasted my limited funds on pizza and pulled pork and (yes, I know it is infantile) cotton candy. But there is so much more for me to spend money on and get in trouble with the wife.

I like sticks. I like cheesecake. But I never in my most beer-addled college days ever got the idea to put the two together. What the heck, the Roundup runs today. I gotta try this. I might even take a selfie.

And I hate selfies more than I hate snakes.