On The Edge

February 9, 2013

The snakes in the grass called the 24-hour news cycle

By J.P. Devine
Correspondent

Just as I was preparing to set the back deck on fire to get some warmth in the house, all Gehenna broke loose on the news. 

One exciting story after another crashed out: A China Lake woman is named Miss Maine USA, Gov. Paul LePage and Democrats finally meet, Londoners find the body of Al Pacino — I’m sorry, I mean King Richard III, whom Pacino played — and the Central Maine Power Co.’s smart meter emissions are well below the federal safety level. That one makes me breathe easier at these temperatures. 

But the really exciting and scary story comes from the government and has me deeply concerned. It really doesn’t affect us in Maine yet, but it’s close.

This morning on MSNBC, I learned that there are more than 150,000 Burmese pythons living in the Florida Everglades. True story. Pythons? Shutthefrontdoor! 

Did I need to know this? I’ve had trouble sleeping ever since that death in the family on “Downton Abbey,” and now this.

Full disclosure: My 90-year-old brother lives in Florida, along with many retired Mainers, who went to school with she who is planning her own retirement. Some of them have not been heard from in quite a while. 

I’m sure that none lived anywhere near the Everglades, and so haven’t been unlisted victims of Burmese pythons; but who knows? Stranger things have happened to retirees. Some are quite along in years, and might just have wandered off somewhere. 

One could be sitting on a bench outside the trailer, and along comes a python, and that’s it. I know my brother would have called, had he seen a python on his deck. But back in his drinking days, he was known to have seen a python or two in the men’s room of Skeeter O’Neil’s Saloon. This is the very same men’s room where a cop at his retirement party actually saw Jesus. True story. Monsignor Keating was called over to verify it, and reportedly refused. Those sightings, by the way, were largely discounted. Just in case, I have a call in to my brother now.

I’m only adding this today as a public service, so that all the gun lovers in town can get a piece of this action. The state of Florida is asking for hunters from all over to “c’mon down, y’all, and get y’all a python.” That’s a true fact. 

Hunters would have to pay a $25 sign-up fee, then get on out there in the swamps and get themselves a really big snake.

It seems to me that all of you assault weapon guys and gals would love this opportunity to waste a python or two, or three, or a thousand.

Be warned, these suckers can inhale an 8-foot alligator without knife or fork, so be careful. Don’t get out of the boat.

Then the news got worse. 

The Huffington Post disclosed that my name has not been found on the new NRA enemies’ list that was disclosed today. I checked my Facebook account, and no one there has seen my name on it either. This, after I wrote a column supporting gun control. 

This awakens long buried hurts in me and rubs sand in my physic wounds. 

She, who leaves the room when I bring this up, or in fact, bring any old stories up, knows very well that I was hurt that I didn’t make Nixon’s enemies list, even though I wrote columns excoriating him and his staff. 

I’m sure it was because H.R Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff, was a neighbor of mine in Los Angeles. Maybe he felt that because I lived nearby, it would be bad form to include me. There is also the fact that I loved his dog, Rufus. Dog lovers stick together. 

And by the way, those pythons love dogs of all sizes. If you’re walking in the Everglades, get a big strong leash.

More news at 11.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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