I am not sure how normal people would react to knowing that just feet (and possibly even moments) away lay a very real chance of death in a painful an assured manner. But I reacted quite well, considering the circumstances.
Upon exiting the shower I headed into my kitchen where I stumbled upon a hissing and obviously angry Malayan Spitting Cobra.
I not only had to quickly and responsibly take into account the fact that I was standing in my kitchen caught off guard by this reality, but also that I was doing so while wearing nothing but a towel.
Just 20 minutes before, I’d gone jogging. I live well away from anything resembling a town, so jogging in peace and reasonably fresh air are the expect norms when I head out for a run around my house in rural Malaysia.
I live alone and very much make myself comfortable when I’m there. So, upon coming home, I doffed my clothes on the way to the back of my elongated house on the way to the bathroom. And by the time I was at the end of the house, the only stitches of clothing I had on were the bracelets given to me by monks in Thailand, and an anklet that I’d bought at a streetside souvenir stand in Panama.
And why not? I have no one to impress but my concrete walls after all.
So I hopped in the shower and scrubbed away, not knowing that on the other side of my bathroom wall, my kitchen was being invaded by a tiny, black, ground-dwelling killer with whom I’d shortly make unexpected contact.
It’s not terribly unreasonable to think that I would freak out. Anyone would, I guess.
However, I didn’t freak out at all. Which is good, when you think about how much the snake was already freaking out. Poor little fella.
You never really know how you will react in a situation like that until you’re faced with it. But as I stood there, all I could think was, ‘Dude, you’re a cobra… That’s awesome.’
There were no platitudes between the two of us. The snake hissed and writhed, and I just stared wide-eyed with an open-mouthed smile in disbelief. Looking back, we were obviously quite the pair. Equally surprised by the other’s presence. Equally amazed. And equally fully focused on the other. But definitely showing it in very dissimilar ways.
Well, perhaps they weren’t so dissimilar. I mean, who knows? Snakes hissing might be that dumb grin in their language too. Doubtful, yes. But if I thought about it more deeply, essentially the flaring up of the hood and the opening of the mouth, the slightly quivering body and the infrequent flicking of the forked tongue may all be a snake’s version of a reaction which stems from the same source in its hippocampus as had inspired my nearly drooling countenance.
Setting aside the philosophical musings of the evolutionary mechanisms that set in motion the neurological phases of the reaction to life threatening situations, I will say that I’d actually been looking forward to this situation for quite a while. I love snakes. And the more dangerous, the better.
I’ve seen giant anacondas in Peru’s Amazon region. I kept a friend of mine from sitting on a sunbathing viper in Costa Rica. And I’d had run-ins with cobras before in Thailand. And in each case, I always remember myself thinking, ‘cool.’
And it was that last thought that gripped me and brought me back into the realization that if I wanted to continue to admire this creature from the conscious standpoint, I’d probably better use the only weapon I had on me to bring the threat to a minimum.
It was undoubtedly difficult to part with the only thing keeping me from being both metaphorically and physically naked in a time when one might want to be as fully protected as possible. Nevertheless, it was a very quick and undebated decision that I made to remove the towel and throw it over the agitated animal.
I then grabbed the base of a tin cookie canister and covered it all. Flattening out the towel, I slowly pulled it out from under the canister, putting enough pressure on it to keep the snake underneath, but still allow the towel to come out without causing any harm.
From that point on, well, you can just watch the short film that I made and see the rest for yourself.