Copyright © 2007 Henrietta W. Hay
November 16, 2007
We have had some very interesting non-human visitors at the Commons, including a pair of golden lab puppies with coats like silk, and a beautiful spaniel obviously trained to speak to everyone. Last year we had eight Doberman puppies who stole the show. Nobody could count all the spots.
We had one slightly different type of guest last week. These had no legs at all. One of our RA's brought a display of snakes. The display was small and quite unobtrusive,
consisting of two small plastic carrying cases. One case held a pair of yellow and blue green tree pythons, curled around each other and hanging on a wooden rod. The other held a young ball python.
Very few residents chose to meet the snakes, but the ones who did were almost entirely women. So much for the sexual myth. Of course, being as curious as Mercury the Wonder Cat, I went to see the wigglers. Nearly all the young female servers and RA's were having a great time.
I have never had a major phobia about snakes, but I have never wanted to get too close to one. Seeing the owner and the young people handle them with such pleasure, however, I knew I couldn't let those kids get the better of me. I finally reached out and stroked the young, wiggly python. To my amazement, it was not unpleasant. In fact, its skin was smooth and soft and not at all frightening.
I guess that to shows that even though it can take 93 years, you can overcome a fear
And it brings up the existence of phobias. The dictionary defines the word, "irrational, excessive and persistent fear of some particular thing or situation."
Google lists phobias which have presumably been reported. I was completely floored by it. The list goes on and on and must include well over a hundred phobias, although I didn't count them. Some of the ones I found amazing were phobias to: mind, overwork, philosophy, women (hmmm), justice (it makes one wonder if that one is prevalent in Washington) and phobia to phobia itself. Probably most of us are affected by one or more, at least mildly.
Snake phobias are among the most common ones. The scientific name is
ophidiophobia, in case you want to identify yourself as ophidiophobic.
Here in the west we have rattlesnakes. People who have worked or lived around them are quite rational in being afraid of them. I wouldn't call that a phobia.
I met one once in my lifetime. It was in Daniels Park, south of Denver, when I was a kid. I was going up a cliff and he was coming down. We met face to face. Fortunately my dad was right behind me and he grabbed me faster than the snake could coil. I have never forgotten it, though.
Every part of the world has poisonous snakes, and a reasonable caution is not phobic.
There are various theories to explain this deep, universal fear of snakes.
One is several million years old. The dinosaurs kept chasing the mammals and we humans are still scared of the reptiles.
The Biblical reason is more commonly accepted. The snake tempted Eve, and look what happened.
Throughout the years snakes have become symbols of worship in various parts of the world. They are often portrayed as the devil.
I hope we have another snake visit some time in the Commons. I'd like to see whether I have the guts to hold one.