Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Repti-conned into Going
Saturday I took Bradley to this really cool, interactive, hands on, totally geared for kids reptile exhibit at the Factory. No wait. No I didn't. That's what I thought I was taking Bradley to.
The Living Social deal I got the week before touted this Repticon exhibit as being a family event, and then later last week, an email was sent out saying Williamson County school employees were allowed in free to take their families to this family-friendly event. Okay, so I'm not a WCS employee myself, but I am related to one. And kids under 5 get in free, so Repticon, here we came!
The first thing I noticed when entering Jamison Hall in the factory, a place many brides and grooms hold their wedding receptions in (my sister included), was the overwhelming reptile stench. I could not have told you what this smelled like before Saturday, but you walked into the place and this odor just knocked you back a second- not so gross that you'd want to breathe through your mouth, but enough to cause you pause and say "ohhh, so that's what a room full of reptiles smells like."
And then we stepped inside. At 5 minutes till 12, we timed our entrance to the exhibit to make the 12 o'clock "show." I was envisioning a goofy guy in a lab coat, or dressed like a zookeeper, a stage, and bleachers, where the emcee would show a group of fascinated kids different kinds of frogs, snakes, spiders, and teach the kids fun facts about the animals and at the end I would get some great photo ops of Bradley petting a snake which I would then show to my mother who is terrified of snakes, and snicker.
But instead I walked willingly into my mother's worst nightmare. Let me just toot my own horn and say that I am good mom. Because I took one look at the first table we came to, with one clear circular container after another, stacked on top of one another, with a live snakes in them, all of them moving around and hissing, because, well, they're alive, probably 30 on each table, and I didn't turn around and leave.
I took a deep breath, and thought, okay, I can do this. They're just snakes. And we pushed through the people to find the "show" that would be starting soon. When we found it, I realized this whole thing was a gross misunderstanding. The interactive show was about chameleons, 4 of them to be specific, and Bradley was able to touch exactly one of them. This was not an educational show for the kiddies. This was a sales pitch to get you to buy a chameleon. In fact the whole exhibit was a haven for reptile buyers and sellers; crazy reptile lovers with piercings, tattoos, and wearing black t-shirts. People were buying snakes right and left. Not me. The guy trying to sell us chameleons ignored the fact that most of his audience was under 12 (hey, at least I was not the only fool in Franklin who thought this was a great Saturday activity for her child) and did his best to yell over the noise in the large open room in the little area where a few rows of chairs were set up, because he was too lazy to wear his head mike, while he educated us on how to keep a chameleon's tank humid.
After the sales demonstration, I took Bradley firmly by the hand and led him through the exhibit hall. "If we're here, we might as well see some snakes," I thought to myself. We saw tank after tank of giant snakes (think Nagini), every kind of lizard, tarantula, giant cockroach, tiny frogs, all sizes of scorpions, and container after container of snakes. I had a small humanitarian moment and felt sorry for the animals confined in such small containers, and then I started over-thinking things and watching them writhe and twist, and the longer we were in there, the more freaked out I got. I envisioned Snakes on a Plane, but instead saw tables tipping over with snakes slithering all over the floor, and people panicking and running everywhere. I held Bradley's hand tightly as he was mildly interested in looking at the different animals and asked to touch a few snakes. And yes I let him, but it was not quite the cheery photo op I had hoped for. Instead I never let go of his hand, calculating how fast I could whip him towards me if the snake he was petting decided to lunge at us. It was all I could do to see a furry tarantula leg poking out of a small clear container, and silently curse the day my mother let me see Arachnophobia in the movie theater.
But I was a good sport, and we managed to stay in Jamison Hall a good 30 or 40 minutes when I was able to tell Bradley happily, that it was time to go. And go we did, where we promptly scrubbed our hands with soap and water when we got home, and I tried to shake the willies for the rest of the day.