"The Bronx Zoo cobra was found in the Financial District, but it didn't bite anyone. Why not? Professional courtesy."--Joke I heard today
A 20-inch venomous Egyptian Cobra from the Bronx Zoo hasn't been accounted for since Friday afternoon. The news broke yesterday. The Bronx Zoo attempted to convince people that there's no reason to be afraid at all, really. And that's when the fun began.
As my wife, several of our friends, and I watched the Pittsburgh Penguins game and Fontana NASCAR race at our house, we got texts and calls about the snake. Several people made hissing sounds. A couple of the guys made things move and pretended like they saw the snake. My friend's 10-year-old daughter almost instinctively telescoped her fingers together to form a fake "snake head" and tried to "bite" her father and stepfather. Kevin Harvick's dramatic win captivated us, and we figured the snake would be found.
It's Monday night, and the snake has yet to be found. Lots of New Yorkers had fun with it, though. Pranksters brought fake snakes to school and work. At my office, people hissed and yelled, "Cobra!" at random moments. I quickly learned that this was being done elsewhere. My wife is a martial arts instructor with hair-trigger senses. A man at her gym thought it would be funny to sneak up on her and "bite" her arm as our friend's daughter had attempted; she grabbed his wrist and quickly threw him down onto his back. People quoted Samuel L. Jackson in Snakes on a Plane. My work husband kept singing Montgomery Gentry's "The Big Revival": "Praise the Lord and pass me a copperhead!"
It was getting boring and annoying, to be honest. I mean, I grew up in Florida; I saw snakes all the time. Yes, a cobra's venom can kill in three minutes, as the news anchors loved to remind us, but you just stay vigilant and move slowly if you do see a snake. But I cracked up when I saw the inevitable Twitter parody account, first for the snake, then for a Bronx Zoo zookeeper:
@BronxZookeeper: Seriously, @BronxZoosCobra. I give you special entrance to the rodent exhibit and this is how you re-pay me? NOT COOL.
There are still revolutions and growing pains for new governments going on in the Arab world. Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant is still spewing out radioactive matter, and it looks like we're all getting a taste. Republican governors are still busting unions. People who need help still aren't getting it. But today, everyone in New York City discussed the snake.
I guess it's because, compared to those problems, it's almost charmingly simple. Hell, it's practically a children's book. Keep looking and someone will find that cobra, then Animal Control will come get it and return it to the zoo. Totally doable. It can't even get very far, right?
Wherever the snake is at tonight, I almost want to thank it for bringing out New Yorker's humor, even a bit of childlike silliness. We desperately needed it. HISSSSSSSSS!