The Charmer

It’s happening! I am diving in headfirst and embracing, or rather facing, my biggest fear in life. And when I say facing, I don’t mean I woke up this morning and took it upon myself to be courageous and actively tackle my trepidation for giant, scaly, slithering snakes. No, I literally mean “FACING” the enormous, 10-foot mighty cobra, right now, as he slithers his scaly, overstuffed body towards me. The man behind the monstrous reptile is playing a small wooden flute as he instructs me to sit very still. I ask myself how I ended up in this predicament. My mind flashes back in time to five minutes ago, when a disheveled skinny young girl carrying magnificent glass beads approached me. I asked her politely if I could purchase one of the strands, and she nodded her head and pulled up a small wooden stool for me to sit on so I can search through her basket. As I reach for the chair, the young lady quickly disappears. I look around and think, “That’s odd, I guess she misunderstood me. “ It’s not the first time the language barrier has confused the locals as I’ve tried to navigate this foreign city. As I stood up to follow through with my day, a short fuzzy man standing a mere five feet away, in a thick Moroccan accent roars, “SIT DOWN GIRL! OR YOU WILL BE A BITE.” That’s how I got here…back in the present, I look up to process the situation and I focus on the cobra…less than 12 inches in front of me. He is my deepest, most gut wrenching fear, and he is gracefully slithering his way towards me. I look at the man, then I look at the snake, then I look back at the man and realize that I am smack dab in the middle of a snake charming session. Fear completely saturates my body as I sit here in the 103 degree Marrakech humidity. I am tingling with irritation as I try to plot my escape. Science proves that when people get scared they do one of three things - they scream, they release bodily fluids, or they run away. In this catastrophic moment, I only wish I was so lucky to do any of these things. Instead, what do I do? When my biggest fear approaches me, how do I adapt to the situation? Well I do what any dehydrated, terrified American would do - I pass out!

I awake from my blackout to the short hairy man scratching my nose with a mint leaf. As I sit up, his pet snake is snuggled inside a basket and thankfully out of my sight. The snake charmer radiates enthusiasm as he blurts out, “You alive!” He bounces up and down and claps his hands together as he pulls me to my feet. “I no mean to hurt your head, you American? Americans scared of snakes. Oopsie.” He smiles at me to reveal a toothless grin. His gentle weathered face begs for my forgiveness. I greet his smile with a soft one of my own. I choose to accept his apology, pick up my pride and quickly scramble away.

S Kaiser

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