One time, not so long ago, and pretty far from here, there was a little snake named Jake. And today, Jake was an excited snake indeed. He was going to visit his very best friend Lemon Lady. Brother BudPie, Jake’s ruggedly handsome human, was going to be gone all summer, on a business trip. Brother Budpie was a refrigerator salesman, and a darn good one. He was going to Alaska, and north, toward the Arctic Circle. He was excited to take advantage of an untapped market, and had no doubt he would sell oodles of refrigerators. And Jake was going on vacation! For the whole summer!
“Are you packed and ready to go, Jakey Boy?” said Brother BudPie, with a twinkle in his eye and a roguish smile, for which he was well known. “I’m ready! I’m ready!” said Jake, fairly bursting with excitement, wishing he could jump up and down. But we all know that little snakes cannot jump up and down.
So off they went, to the airport, Brother BudPie, a confident, conscientious driver, and all-around charismatic individual, with his bag of refrigerator brochures, and Jake, who liked to travel light, wearing his tiny Seahawks hat, and sweater that said ‘Go Hawks!’. For Jake did indeed love football, and dreamed of one day becoming a tight end for his favorite team. But that was for another time. Today he was going to Lemon Lady’s house!
“Okay Jake” said Brother BudPie, in his firm but loving voice, as they stood on Lemon Lady’s front porch, “No monkey business this summer (Jake had no idea what monkey business was, but was sure it wouldn’t be a problem), promise me you’ll be a good little snake.” And bending down, way , way down, (for Brother BudPie’s broad shoulders, narrow waist, and exceedingly well toned legs were only surpassed by his near-perfect height) gave Jake a kiss on the nose and was on his way.
“I’m so glad you’re here Jakey. It will be just like old times. What great fun we will have!” Lemon Lady’s voice flowed over Jake like warm honey down the back of a mongoose. “But now, we need to get you ready for bed. You’ve had a long day, and I’m sure you will be up early tomorrow, eager to start having fun. So off you go, brush both your teeth, polish your scales, and get into your Bob’s Burgers jammies.” And with a wink, Lemon Lady said “Be careful not to ‘accidently’ fall down the sink drain. I know how you love to play Down the Drain and Back Up Through the Toilet, and the toilet lid is closed. You might get trapped! Then, come give me hug and a goodnight kiss. Actually, maybe I’d better give you the hug.” And with that, Lemon Lady was off to the kitchen, to preheat the oven for the delightfully delectable double-delicious lemon cake she was going to bake. If there was one thing she knew how to do, it was baking lemon cakes.
The next morning bright and early, Jake was in the kitchen, just finishing his second bowl of Spider Puffs, when Lemon Lady, a twinkle in her eye and piece of lemon zest hanging from the end of her nose (“I hope it’s lemon zest” thought Jake), cleared her throat and said “You’re on your own today Baby Jakes, I have friends from The Lemon Lovers League coming over for a lemon popover bake-off. After that we’re going to play bingo.” (Lemon Lady loved bingo, and had developed a strategy that had paid off handsomely over the years.)
Jake was excited! The last time he visited Lemon Lady, he was too young to play outside by himself. “This is looking to be an awesome day” thought Jake, grabbing his Seahawks hat on his way out the door. “Today I’m going to make some friends.”
Lemon Lady’s back yard was a magical place, with lots of grass, bushes and trees, nooks and crannies. Jake wasn’t too familiar with nooks, and even less so with crannies. “I’ll learn as I go” thought Jake, as he slithered down the back steps, past the rock garden, where rocks of all colors and sizes grew in abundance.
Making his way through the grass, Jake stumbled upon a group of frogs, small and green, all lined up and jumping over each other. “What are you doing?” asked Jake in his most friendly voice. “It’s pretty obvious kid, if you were a frog you would know” croaked the biggest, meanest looking frog of the bunch. “Can I play?” asked Jake, with hope in is voice and a smile on his face. Evidently, the frogs found this to be extremely funny, hilarious even. “Oh that’s brilliant!” croaked the biggest meanest looking frog of the bunch. “He wants to play leapfrog! Come back when you got arms and legs kid. Now scram!”
With head hanging low, his tail tucked between his…..his tail tucked, a dejected Jake swallowed his humiliation and slithered away through the tall grass. For even though Lemon Lady’s lawn was meticulously manicured, all grass seemed tall to a little snake.
It wasn’t too long before the little snake heard laughter and singing from somewhere up ahead. “Maybe it’s someone that will play with me” thought Jake, as he burst upon the scene. And what he saw did indeed look like fun. There before him was a small flock of birds, performing aerial acrobatics the likes of which he had never before seen. Swerving and diving, singing and laughing! Jake waited for the flock to take a worm break, perched side by side on a branch low to the ground, before he dared approach. “Hi! My name is Jake, I’m from out of town, visiting my friend Lemon Lady. Can I play? “Yeah you can play” chirped the biggest bird of the bunch. “You can play ‘get lost’. Come back when you got wings.”
Needless to say, this was devastating to the little snake. No one wanted to play with him. Jake had always known he was different, but it had never occurred to him that others would shun him because of it. It didn’t seem fair. Brother BudPie, his compassionate, wise, easy on the eyes, mentor had taught him that diversity made things better, not worse.
So Jake found himself, sad, miserable and alone, curled up beside an especially colorful rock. With tears in his eyes and his chin on the ground, albeit the distance between his chin and the ground wasn’t that great to begin with, he almost missed the slight rustling of the grass. “Go away” said Jake, in a trembling voice. “Go back and play with your friends. Did they send you to taunt me”?
“I don’t have any friends” said a silky voice. “I was hoping you would be my friend. I saw you talking to the unfriendly frogs, and the belligerent birds. They wouldn’t play with me either.”
Jake’s chin came up so fast he was momentarily airborne. He whipped his head around, looking over what would have been his shoulder, if he had shoulders, and this is what he saw: The most beautiful, the most perfect, the most snakiest girl he had ever seen. Popping his neck back into joint, wiping the tears from his eyes and the sheepleg from his little nose, in a warbly voice, cracking on the high notes, he managed to utter “Ummm, hullo. My name’s Jake. What’s yours?” “Prissscilla” whispered the young lady snake, in a warm voice that flowed like melted butter down a duck’s back. “Her eyes” thought Jake, “Are like diamonds, her scales shine like the sun itself.” Willing his heart to slow down to below the recommended maximum heart rate for a little snake, Jake gathered his courage, rounded up his wits, winked, and said “Prissscilla, do you like lemon jellied spiders?”
And that’s how Jake, a little snake, began what turned out to be the best vacation he ever had.
As a footnote, Brother Budpie sold all of his refrigerators in the first two weeks in the Arctic. With the handsome profit from that venture, he purchased a container load of space heaters, and was on his way to Ecuador.