I lived with Ruby for a while–over there on 14th and Lafayette on Capitol Hill in Denver. Ruby was stunning. She stopped people in the street with her graceful curves and ease of demeanor.
Ruby was a six foot boa constrictor. I fell in love with her at first sight. I was in a show that called for a snake. Not a single slithering being showed up for auditions. The snake was to be my stage partner. So I went in search of a well trained snake.
My previous snake, a bull snake named Phaedro, was left in my care when my son’s interests went elsewhere. Phaedro and I lived in a no-pets apartment complex. When Phaedro escaped, I could hardly call management and ask for help in retrieving him. I wished him well.
You’d think a snake would be easy to find in a city as big as Denver. I kept looking and finally found Ruby lounging behind glass in a pet shop out in Lakewood. I was in an unsettled phase of my life and hardly able to consider buying her loveliness. So, I bartered. Ruby would be the star of the show (she was) and we would give the pet shop a full page ad in the program. Deal.
I wondered if it would be a problem that Ruby had never performed before. I had to make sure she was comfortable around people. I stopped jogging and took up walking…walking with a six foot boa around my neck as I wandered down Colfax and along Broadway. Now as beautiful as she was, she did not charm everyone. Ten year old girls screamed and ran away from me. But the boys, oh, the boys, any age, came to her like magic. She never flinched or flashed a tongue. She was totally accepting of their adoration.
Ruby was with me for some time before the performance. She got hungry. I can’t remember for sure what tasty morsel I finally procured. Phaedro ate live mice from the science lab at the college. They were no longer doing those experiments. I went to a pet shop. They were out of mice and hamsters. I think Ruby ate a guinea pig. OMG, she had this huge bulge in her slinky body. She did not want to be touched during digestion…which went on for days. I was afraid she’d bomb on opening night.
Fortunately she completed the process by showtime. I hung in a half moon forty feet over the stage with Ruby curled contentedly in my lap. We made quite an entrance when the moon was lowered to the stage.
What memories does the Year of the Snake bring for you?