xqbdr“You never forget the first time you crack up your old man.” That’s what Baltimore Jimmy said. And he was right, though he forgot to mention that your old man never forgets it either. It was last summer, late July, and we were in a large nature park on the West Island (that shall remain nameless). The rain was pouring down like crazy so we sought refuge in the park’s chalet. Whilst we were in there one of the park’s naturalists, an unctuous Québécois man in his mid-50s, desperately sought to insinuate himself into our group’s conversation.

After failing miserably a number of times, the naturalist finally managed to pique my 11-year-old son’s interest: he told Tristan that he had once had a large collection of snakes. He asked Tristan if he’d like to see a picture of his pet boa constrictor. Apparently he had pictures of the snake saved on his phone. Tristan went over, looked at the image, recoiled, and returned to our table promptly: “Daddy,” he said, “you should really go and look at that weird man’s picture.” Now my interest was piqued.

I went over and asked the naturalist if I could see the picture of his pet snake. He was happy to comply with my request. The picture was of a much younger him. At least twenty years younger and heavily muscled—and we’re talking steroid-pumped gym-rat muscled. What’s more, he was tanned to a horrid orange color, oiled up, and sporting nothing but a little white speedo . . . and a pet snake. But, truth be told, the snake wasn’t that big (maybe four feet long). The dude took up most of the frame. So it really wasn’t a picture of snake; it was a picture of a mostly naked dude with a snake.

As we were leaving the park, Tristan said to me (with flawless delivery): “Daddy, this nature park should come with a warning.” “What kind of a warning?”—I asked, puzzled. “BEWARE OF THE BOA CONSTRIPPER!”

—John Faithful Hamer, From Here (2016)

About John Faithful Hamer

John Faithful Hamer is a college professor who still can't swim, drive, or pay his bills on time. His sense of direction is notoriously unreliable, yet he'd love to tell you where to go. His lack of practical skills is astounding, and his inability to fix things is renowned, yet he'd love to tell you what to do. His mismanagement of time is legendary, as is his inability to remember appointments, yet he fancies himself a philosopher and would love to tell you how to live. He wouldn't survive in a state of nature, of that we can be sure; but he's doing quite well in the big city, which has always been a refuge for the ridiculous, a haven for the helpless, and a friend to the frivolous.

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