I have had it with this motherf*^king snake in this motherf*^king bathroom! Part 2.
The second snake I lived with was also a Ball Python. His name was Charlie and he was mine. I was living in LA at the time with my prevaricating, sleeping around behind my back, special needs boyfriend Garth when I inherited Charlie the snake. Charlie wasn’t like other regular snakes. Charlie was special. He had magical powers and I desperately needed to harness those powers in my quest to take over the world!!! Muuuhaaaaa!! Okay, I didn’t really want to take over the world but I did want to be a successful actress and believe it or not Charlie could do that for me. Or so I thought.
I was acting in LA at the time and getting a lot of auditions and had made it as far as producers meetings. For those of you that don’t know what that means, it means that you have made it past all the competition and the part is down to you and maybe one or two other people. Once you get to producers you stand a very good chance of getting the part. I was so close I could taste the paycheck and see my name in the credits but for whatever reason I just never landed the big role I needed to get my career off the ground. I was beyond frustrated and kept getting callbacks to only be heart broken once more. I need a boost. I needed a secret weapon. I needed…Charlie.
How I came about adopting Charlie is actually what you could call a Hollywood success story. Charlie’s original owner was a small relatively unknown actor named James Marsden. James is a very sweet, humble man who started out a nobody and became a somebody in Hollywood. I first met James in 1985. He was the brother of my good friend Robby. Robby and I worked together at a restaurant in LA and I would often go to his house on Friday nights and watch taped episodes of South Park until the wee hours of the morning. James was also living there with his girlfriend and now wife Lisa. I can’t remember exactly when James got Charlie but at the time Charlie was a very little snake. James decided to name the snake Charlie after Charlie Sheen. Not because the snake liked blow and hookers. Even though that would have made it one very expensive, very entertaining snake. But because James just liked Charlie Sheen and thought he was particularly entertaining.
Before we knew it, regular old James became James Marsden, a very successful actor. Probably best known for his role as Cyclops in X-Men. James was becoming a success and because of all his new roles and traveling to various locations, Charlie needed a new owner. That is when my friend Eddie Mills stepped up to the plate.
Eddie was part of a very tight group of friends that all worked at Stanley’s. Most of us weren’t actors but three of us were. Eddie, Robby, and myself. We also had a photographer, a couple of musicians, and one studying film at USC, and we all pretty much did everything together. Each and every one of us wanted out of Stanleys. Not because it sucked working there, but we all had aspirations of our own so when one of us got out it gave hope to us all. Eddie was a good parent to Charlie. He kept him fed and Charlie grew pretty big. And the next thing we knew Eddie’s career took off and he kept getting gigs. Enough that he could quit Stanley’s. I have to get my hands on that snake!
As Eddie’s career took off he started to encounter the same problems as James did. He was so busy and he was traveling so much he could no longer care for Charlie and needed to find him a new home. Our good friend Becky was really in love with Charlie and I thought for sure she was going to jump on the chance to be Charlie’s new Mommy but she didn’t.
“I’ll take him,” I told Eddie. I would like to say I did it out of pure selfless generosity but who are we kidding? Eddie looked relieved to know Charlie was in good hands and the deal was done.
Next thing I know Eddie was at my door with a huge and I mean HUGE tank. I had never seen a tank this big. Not even in pet stores. This baby was custom built and took up almost an entire wall of my small living room. Eddie also brought over a much smaller tank as well.
“What’s that one for?” I asked, pointing to the smaller tank.
“That’s his feeding tank,” Eddie told me. Feeding tank. Oh crap, I didn’t even think about having to feed the damn snake. “You don’t want to feed him in his regular tank because if you do then when you put your hand in there to get him or to clean the tank he may think it’s food and bite you.” Whaaa…? Bite me? “So you need to feed him in the smaller tank. Once you put him in there he knows he’s going to get fed.” And boy was Eddie right. Second I stuck that snake in his feeding tank he was primed and ready.
“How often do I need to feed him?” I asked.
“Oh about once every three weeks. He eats medium size mice right now,” Eddie informed me. I’m not going to lie. I was kind of regretting accepting Charlie at this point but if it meant my acting career was going to take off, well then one medium size mouse it was.
I wasn’t really all that hip on the feeding thing so my boyfriend Garth promised me he would do it. He also promised me he would work on a regular basis, do the dishes, and keep his dick in his pants but he just couldn’t manage to do any of these things.
“Will you please feed Charlie?” I asked him as the third week after he had fed him last approached.
“Yeah, I’ll take care of it,” he told me. But the next day passed and then the one after that.
“Garth, you need to feed Charlie,” I told him. Now I was just getting pissed.
“I’ll get him a mouse tomorrow,” he assured me as he left the house to do Lord knows what. Poor, poor Charlie needed food. He didn’t have an eating disorder like Kristina’s snake did. This guy could eat and he needed to eat. I was going to have to do this myself.
I took my boyfriend’s crappy old Volvo to the pet store because he somehow had commandeered my automobile with the working air-conditioned and radio (I was a total pushover back then; not anymore). I walked into the pet store not really knowing what I was supposed to do. Was I supposed to tell the people who worked there I needed a mouse to feed my snake or was I suppose to pretend I was buying one as a pet? This was like a first time drug deal and I didn’t know the rules or the dealers. So I just stood there with my mouth hanging open, staring stupidly at all the mice. The cute little mice. Oh… I don’t think I can do this. Stacy, pull yourself together. You must do this. If you don’t your snake will die.
“Hi can I help you?” a young pimply kid asked me.
“Um…” I paused. “I need a mouse to feed my snake.” As I said the word snake a tear ran down my cheek. I was now officially the wimpiest snake owner on the planet.
“What size mouse does he eat?” he asked me like I had said, “Oh I’ll take a bag of dog food please.”
“A medium size one,” I told him.
“Okay, I’ll be right back.” And he took off and came back with a small paper bag and opened up the mouse tank and put a mouse in the bag. I then went up to the counter and paid my $1.75 so I could kill this poor innocent animal.
As I drove the mouse home I could hear it squeaking and running around in the bag and the noise was killing me. I couldn’t drown out the sound because the stupid Volvo didn’t have a radio. I broke down in tears because I felt so bad. After a couple of minutes of this torture I just started singing at the top of my lungs so I wouldn’t have to listen to the poor thing anymore. Now he was no longer torturing me but I was probably scaring the crap out of him with my acapella version of Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio. Once we got home I took both of the cats and locked them in the bedroom and went back into the living room with the snake and the mouse. I took Charlie out of his regular tank and put him in his feeding tank and he perked right up. He was so active he was freaking me out. I grabbed the little paper bag and opened it up, turned up upside down dropped the mouse in and made a run for the bedroom to avoid having to deal with the sound of the mouse scream. I didn’t make it.
From there on out I fed Charlie every time and I hated it every time. Medium mice turned into large mice, which turned into rats and so on. He became so large I was anticipating rabbits soon and was so scared at the prospect. Charlie had become my buddy though and I wore him around my arm and neck like jewelry. I would wear him around the house and while I did laundry. I would wear him all over the place. He only bit me once and it wasn’t his fault. The woman at the pet store had put the mouse into a toilet paper tube, presumably because she didn’t want to touch it. I didn’t look into the bag before I dropped the mouse into the tank and didn’t see the tube until it was already in the tank. This mouse wasn’t an idiot, so he just hunkered down in his tube where he was safe. Charlie couldn’t get to his dinner so I had to get the mouse out of the tube. Charlie was fast but I thought I was faster. I was wrong, and it hurt like hell. But he never did it again and I always checked the bag after that.
Unlike James and Eddie my career was still in the holding pattern. I was taking classes at the Groundlings which is the stepping stone for a lot of very funny comedians and had done some stand up at the Improv but still hadn’t hit pay dirt yet. One night I had come home from waiting tables and I walked in the door to see my smallest cat Kook asleep as usual on top of Charlie’s tank. I always hated it when she did that. He was at that this point very healthy and very large and could easily eat her. But this time something very wrong and very bad had happened. Charlie had discovered a way out of his tank. He was now strong enough and large enough to reach the top of the giant tank and had pushed the screen on the top of the tank up just enough so he could squeeze out between the screen and the light. My sleeping cat didn’t see the giant snake coming up out of the tank to eat her. Charlie was almost completely out of the tank when I caught him. If I had come home even 5 minutes later my pooping, destructive, tiny menace of a cat would be no more.
I loved Charlie; I really did. As much as one person could love a snake. But under my care he had grown so fast that he was now a danger to my other animals and as far as I was concerned it was time for him to find another home. I wanted to start looking for a new home for him but of course my non snake-feeding boyfriend didn’t want to get rid of him. Typical. I told him about my concerns but he said Charlie was a family member and we needed to keep him. With Charlie still in the house my paranoia was growing by the minute. I would constantly check his tank for holes or breaches in security. And Charlie grew. But before I had to feed him his first rabbit, a life-changing thing happened to me. My boyfriend of 6 ½ years decided to have a four-month affair with one of my closest friends. After my best friend Becky told me the news about Garth and the Two-Faced Bridge Troll, I packed my bags and moved out while Garth was out of town on work. I never told him I left. I took the fridge, the TV, the DVD player, the stereo, the cats and all of my personal belongings. I left any pictures I had of either him or her, and the bridesmaid dress I had worn in her wedding, which was torn into tiny pieces. Along with these items I left my set of keys to the apartment and I left Charlie. I figured one good snake deserved another. I put my stuff in storage and my girlfriend Amanda temporarily took my cats for me. I was officially homeless. But I got by with a little help from my friends and had my own studio apartment within two months. Don’t worry about Charlie though, Garth found him a good home. Garth was such a loser he couldn’t afford rent without me so he had to move back in with his mommy and daddy. And because of this Charlie got to move on to greener, more rabbit filled pastures. And because of the way I broke up with my boyfriend I wasn’t only famous in the Sherman Oaks area… I was now infamous.
To be continued…
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