Playing Doctor

Initial Visit?

Tuesday, December 27

Cold-Hearted Snake

Though the snakebite is to the patient’s hand, he turns out to be a nice enough guy. When I mention the words Crotalus and Agistrodon, I win his confidence. This, clearly, is a guy who loves snakes.

He’s a paramedic who has three pet rattlers. He got bit, apparently, when he was cleaning out the cage on a hot day and the snake moved faster than he was used to. It was the pygmy that bit him. Pygmies are mean motherfucking snakes, far more then their larger counterparts. We hear stories of people who were repeatedly bitten when a pygmy chased them. Big snakes do not do chase people.

Still, he’s a relatively uninteresting patient: he’s stable and improving. His coagulation studies were never elevated and the swelling has been steadily subsiding. He doesn’t even have signs of an untoward reaction from the antivenin. I write an acceptance note after examining him.

The idea of keeping snakes is a curious one. This man certainly held no illusion that the snakes felt anything for him; He was not keeping them as one would keep a poodle or a child. And it wasn’t like keeping a rottweiler or a gun collection that would confer a concomitant illusion of protection. [It’s here that I originally delved off into a thirteen paragraph digression about why he might keep rattlers for pets. And I don’t mean the staccato bi-sentenced pairings that I usually pass off as paragraphs, but actual, fully-formed expansion of ideas and fleshing out of concepts before the next [Enter] [New Line] [New Paragraph]

It started with a nod to Freud’s Totem and Taboo, given with oblique references so that those familiar with it would nod and smile in a way that acknowledged they were clever enough to not only have read Freud but to recognize when he was referenced. Those unfamiliar with it would—I hoped—appreciate the ideas and not notice the references they missed. I moved forward to a compare and contrast of the concepts of fetishes by Frued and de Brosses. I even gave a knowing wink to Queer theorist Leo Bersani, with a play on ‘is the rectum a grave.’ So tangential I was, everything beneath a layer of innocuous prose, hoping for an informed smile from kindred minds.

Trying to keep things interesting, I referenced R.E.M.’s
Automatic for the People, Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans, and Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘The King of Carrot Flowers, pts. 1 & 2-3.’ I ended all this with a few sentences comparing myself to the paramedic and mentioned the way people collect different things as fetishes, as emblems of power, again with an obsequiously oblique style heaped with pride at my post-graduate version of Hide and Seek. Me smiling for my clever hiding; you for your clever finding. However, it was so excruciatingly dull and nauseatingly stilted that, had you been reading it aloud to someone, they would have cut out your fucking tongue.

If they were merciful, they would have then butterfly-filleted it along the genioglossus and used it as a blindfold to prevent you from seeing the dullardly words upon your screen. Things started to become readable again after that point…
] Which left him here getting bit by his fetish and receiving the antivenin. Now, mere hours later, he’s watching the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search contestants parading on a talk show. Swimsuit models and cheating death, all in one morning.

He’s a paramedic: his job’s running in and pulling people back from death’s precipice. Was the bulk of his life a refutation of his own death? Getting in Death’s face. Pissing Death off and taunting him.

If his hand wasn’t so swollen and sore he’d probably be beating off right now. With Death walking by his ICU room, avoiding eye contact with the paramedic—afraid of him—looking like Jody Foster as she left Hannibal Lecter’s underground cell, the paramedic would finish himself off with a flourish, snapping his hand, and let his jizz fly from his fingers into the eyes of death.

Is that why he keeps Rattlers?

Or maybe, he just likes snakes.


Blogger dan writes:

[It's here that I wrote a not-so-witty remark that implied that I was catching all of your obscure references and cerebral jokes, although in actuality I knew full well that I probably wasn't really catching half of them, or in the best possible scenario I was only understanding them on the most shallow level possible, but then I realized it was a nauseatingly transparent attempt to seem as smart as you so I decided instead to crib your style and write this note in an odd self-depricating and self-referential format like when you did your post modern Eggers routine a few months ago -which is one of the few references that I actually caught - and then when I realized I was commenting about my comments about my comments, the whole thing got so meta that my head imploded and I decided to just go with the lame back-patting, yet sincere, comment and say] wow, that was a great post. Keep 'em comin'.


Blogger dan writes:

Seriously, though. I don't know how you are able to end a post with a metaphor that involves a snake-handler shooting a load into the grim reaper's skully eye socket and have it actually make sense within the context. I'm impressed.


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