The photo doesn't begin to capture how terrified I was doing today's New Thing at the aptly named House of Reptiles. The Ball Python I'm holding is so named for its tendency to roll up in a ball when stressed, which explains why it insisted on curling around me. Seriously, I was shaking more than Whitney Houston trying to clear customs.
My mother tried to calm me down by explaining the spiritual signficance of "snake medicine," though she declined to hold it herself. After I calmed down, I actually petted its skin. "It feels just like shoes," I said. "Or a purse."
"That's not the kind of association we really like," said the owner.