It’s not the kind with a real beginning or ending, and it has no moral. At least none that I can detect. It’s not the kind of tale one would tell if one were trying to create a good piece of fiction…. this is why I think it is true. As in, historically true. As in, one could have videotaped the event described, if camcorders had been invented at the time [and they weren’t]. It is told with such technicolor and sincerity.
My Uncle Victor is old. He is my dad’s eldest brother. I think he is about 118. He has a home-rolled cigarette in one hand and uses his other as an ashtray. And the only time my immediate family ever really sees Uncle Victor is around Christmas time. And we know that at some point we are going to ask him for the story. When we do, he will fidget a bit, and adopt this perfect expression of curious bewilderment, as though he himself does not have a blessed clue as to what story we are referring to. As though he will now have to reach way back, and tell the thing to us for the first time. And we will prepare ourselves to laugh as though he is doing just that!
Like I said, it’s not really a story, it’s just a vignette, a scene, and it’s the way he tells it that just levels us.
He says that he and his brother, [my Uncle Louis] were walking to school one hot summer day. And of course, back then, the schoolhouse was at least 38 miles away, right? In fact, all schoolhouses were this far away from wherever you lived! It’s like they were purposely stationed where no human residential life existed!
So there they are, these two boys, walking and talking away when they notice this snake lazing about in the sun, on a hill. Well, of course, being boys, they’ve got to go and pester the thing.
“Well,” says Uncle Victor, “we poked that damn snake with a stick and honest to God, it rolled itself up with its tail in its mouth and rolled down that hill like a wagon-wheel.”
There are all manner of gyrations that go along with the telling, and usually by this point my sister and I are falling off our chairs laughing. I know it doesn’t sound like much of a story, but believe me, if you knew my Uncle Victor, you’d know that this thing is a doozie!
So, I am hoping I can hear The Rolling Snake© story when I go back home soon, for Christmas.
But I am wondering if any reader can help me out here.
Is it possible that this story could be true? I mean, from a seriously reptilian perspective, can snakes even do this? Is it possible? How would their vertebra accomplish such a thing? I am referring to the muscular manoeuvre involved in getting up and rolling like that!
Has anyone else ever seen such a thing?
Has my Uncle Victor just had way too much eggnog?