Jake wasn’t feeling all that great, and he didn’t know why. What he did know was that he didn’t like it, not one bit. He was grouchy and itchy and jumpy and twitchy, and felt like he could crawl right out of his skin! He would ask Brother BudPie, his long, lean, dependable mentor and roommate, for an opinion, but Brother BudPie was currently out of town, scouting a potential sales area for a new product he had taken on. Already at the top of the sales heap in refrigerators and space heaters, he had recently added electric griddles to his product line. Since he had just sold his last space heater to a donkey herder in Ecuador, he planned a stopover in the Amazon rainforest. He just had a hunch that the griddles would sell like hotcakes.
This was all well and good, but it left poor Jake on his own to deal with, what to him, was a serious problem. “I’m going to ask Brother BudPie if he will take me along on his next trip. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind, and I might pick up a few sales tips. Then, when a problem like this pops up again, he’ll be there for me.” But in the meantime, Jake needed help, and he needed it bad.
“Ruff, come here boy, feel my back. What does it feel like?” “Rough” said Ruff. “Do I have a fever? Is it really high?” “Roof” said Ruff. Ruff was a dog of few words, but when he did speak, he was direct and do the point. But Jake needed more than monosyllabic responses. He needed real advice.
“So, what do you think, Prissscilla?” Jake asked of his young snake friend. She sometimes thought she was Jake’s girlfriend, but Jake wasn’t so sure how he felt about that. “Have you tried lotion, Jake? That helps me when I get itchy. Or maybe a bath. When was the last time you had a bath anyway?” Maybe just a smidgen offended, but overly so, Jake replied with “That’s not it Prissscilla. I’ve gone way longer than this without taking a bath and nothing happened. Well, except no one came over to play for a couple of months, but that was probably because they were all busy. That’s what they said anyway.” Prissscilla just rolled her beady little eyes and said “Uh huh. Try the lotion. Talk to you later.”
Jake did try the lotion, and it didn’t help the itching. It didn’t help the heebie-jeebies and it did nothing for the jitters. In fact, it did nothing at all. “I’ll give Lemon Lady a jingle. She always has good advice” thought Jake, as he absently scratched under his chin. And so he did. “Hi Lemon Lady, it’s me, Jake! I need some advice. Are you busy?” “Jakey Jake, my little snake! How good it is to hear your squeaky little, if somewhat distressed, voice! I was just on my way out the door, dear boy. My Lemon Lovers League friends and I are going to a Citrus Social Quilting Bee. But I do have a minute for my best little buddy. Out with it now. Tell Lemon Lady all about it.” “Lemon Lady” said Jake, in a quivering voice, I feel miserable, and itchy, and scratchy, all over. What can I do?” “Oh my! Indeed, that does sound awful! Let me think of what might help…hmmm…..lotion, nope, bath, nuh uh…ah! Try this Jake! Have a hot glass of lemonade, a sugar free non-artificial sweetener non-GMO, gluten free cookie, and wrap yourself up in a quilt. Take a nice long nap in font of the fireplace. The combination of citrus on the inside and heat on the outside should sweat the bad humours right out if you! Okey-doke Boyo, gotta run, kissy kiss on the phone! Mwah! Mwah!” and with that, she was off, leaving only advice, and a dull ringing in Jakes ears.
Later that same day, no better for Lemon Lady’s treatment plan, Jake was nearly at wit’s end, when an idea came to him. “Maybe I’ll call Ralph. He might have some ideas.” Ralph was a friend Jake had met at the Sentient Snake Seminar a while back. He too was a little snake, but unlike Jake, lived with his mom and dad and a couple dozen brothers and sisters. He was really smart from watching Innovation Nation on Saturday mornings. Mo Rocca was his personal hero.
“Hey Ralph, Jake here. I was hoping you could come over and help me with a problem.” “No worries, Jake, I’ll crawl right over. Uh, when’s the last time you had a bath? Never mind I’m on my way.” “Man, what’s with all this bath stuff?” thought Jake as he furiously scratched his back against a bristle brush that Brother BudPie, his thoughtful, handy, really-cute-to-the-ladies roomie had screwed to the floor for just that purpose.
When the doorbell rang, Jake was still busily scratching his back. “Ruff, will you get the door please? Who is it?” “Rowf” said Ruff. “Okay, let him in. C’mon in Ralph.”
“Hi Jake. You look awful! You’re blotchy, peeling, and generally in bad shape. How long has this been going on?” “A couple of weeks, although it seems like forever” replied Jake, as he scratched is underside on the brush. “You gotta help me Ralph. This is making me crazy!” “Okay Jake, we’ll get the handle on this. Just relax for a couple of minutes while I do some research.”
And with that, Ralph whipped out his iPad and began scrolling through past episodes of Innovation Nation. “Jake, while I’m going through this, let me ask you a couple questions. Did you try lotion?” “Yep” replied Jake, “Zero. Zip. Nada. Except that now I smell like a garden in springtime.” “Well” said Ralph, “that can’t be anything but good.” “Too bad you chose to be a science nerd, Ralph” said Jake. “Comedy lost a true genius when they lost you. Maybe you could keep scrolling. It’s getting to a point where I can’t be held responsible for my actions.”
“Well, let’s see, scratching, you’re doing that now. Bathing is out. You already nixed that. Let’s talk about your symptoms. Do you have an elevated temperature?” “Yes” replied Jake. “According to Ruff, it’s through the roof.” Ralph continued to scroll. “Hmmm….let’s see….itchy, twitchy, grumpy, jumpy, like you’re going to crawl right out of your skin….wait!! Lemme see…..it says here, molt. That’s it! You’re molting!” “Whaaat?” asked Jake with more than just a teensy bit of doubt. “What’s that?”
“According to Mo, it’s a natural process that, as snakes, we all go through. You’re shedding your old, smelly skin to make room for a new, sparkly, non-itchy one. It appears that your questionable hygiene habits may have triggered an early molt. It goes on to say that by the time you reach the stage where you feel like you’re going to crawl out of your skin, that you will. Crawl out of your skin, that is.”
At that moment, maybe as a result of all the intense brushwork, Jake’s old skin peeled off like the skin of a split Cara Cara orange. “Ho boy what a relief!” said Jake as he admired his new duds. “Ralph, you’re a genius! I’ll be eternally grateful, for a while.” Just then Ralph began furiously scratching where his armpits would be, if he had armpits. “No problem Jake! Any time. Gotta crawl! See you later. Awww man….itchy…..” Whereupon Ralph, making a hasty exit out the front door, down the steps and through the gate, headed for home.
A few seconds later, the front door opened, and in stepped Brother Budpie, Jake’s tall, tanned, treat-for-the-eyes roomie. “Well howdy, Ruff! Who was that just leaving?” “Rowf” said Ruff. “Ah! A good lad, if a little nerdy. How’ve things been around here the last couple of weeks? “Rough” said Ruff.