On Friday of last week at Camp Grandma, it was time to go to the movies. I had read through recent reviews and looked at the ratings, and I decided we would see either BFG (The Big Friendly Giant as opposed to B.F. Goodrich Tires) or the brand new movie about what pets do when their humans are otherwise occupied.
It was a summer Friday afternoon, so there was actually a line at the box office. As we waited, Colt looked over at the line of movie posters, muttering longingly and almost under his breath, “I’d really like to see Tarzan.”
You’ve maybe heard of arachnophobes—people who are afraid of spiders? My daughter, Colt’s mommy, is a herpetophobe—someone who is afraid of snakes. And for good reason. When she was four years old or so and old enough to remember things, we moved to a recently built neighborhood on the far side of Spanish Trail in Tucson. Recently built as in new construction.
Here’s the thing about snakes—all kinds of snakes. They prefer to live and die within about 1500 yards of the place where they are hatched or born. (By the way I just checked. Approximately 70% of snakes come from eggs and the rest don’t. For the purposes of this blog it doesn’t really matter which is which.) The point is snakes are generally homebodies, and just because somebody brings in a construction crew and builds a bunch of houses in the neighborhood doesn’t necessarily mean that the snakes will move away.
And that was the case in Tucson. Our neighbor, Mr. Green, used a hoe to dispatch a very angry rattlesnake with my daughter looking on in horror from only a few feet away. That was the only rattlesnake we actually saw, but I suspect there were a lot of others that we didn’t see. In the end, though, my daughter’s and my real issues were with garter snakes, because it turns out they don’t move on, either.
One day while I was at work, the children’s father told them to go to the bathroom and then take a nap. My daughter came racing back into the living room saying, “Daddy, daddy. There’s a snake in the bathtub!” He sauntered into the bathroom, chased the snake down the drain, put in the plug and said, “Now go to the bathroom and go back to bed.” Except the snake squirted right back into the tub through the overflow opening.
Garter snakes aren’t dangerous but they are VERY quick. They turned up in the bathtub occasionally and also in the hallway. For as long as we lived in that house—the shortest amount of time possible, by the way—both my daughter and I would pause at the beginning of the hallway and take a deep breath while we checked for snakes. Let’s just say, she’s never quite recovered.
So here Colt and I are standing in the ticket line. I’m thinking Tarzan/Jungle. There are bound to be snakes. (I have it on good authority that the Tarzan movie from the eighties was plugged full of the creatures.) In other words, if Colt was going to see Tarzan, it would have to be my problem rather than his mother’s. I knew from reading my sister’s online movie review of Tarzan on Jayflix (She’s a great reviewer by the way!) that this version was PG-13. What to do? The only thing possible. I bellied up to the ticket counter and bought tickets to Tarzan.
It turns out the showtime for Tarzan was fifteen minutes later than the one for BFG. While I was sitting there watching previews of movies I will definitely NOT be seeing, I found myself thinking about my father.
Norman Busk was born in August of 1916. Next month will mark his 100th birthday. He loved Tarzan. According to family legend, he was given his first Tarzan book written by Edgar Rice Burroughs on the occasion of his tenth birthday. Even though he had broken his glasses at the time, he stayed up late that night, holding his glasses together, so he could finish reading it.
My dad was ten. Colt is ten. Ninety years later it seemed entirely appropriate that Colt and I would go to see that particular movie together—in honor of my dad. And I can tell you straight out that Colt loved it.
Happy 100th, Gramps. Colt never had a chance to meet you, but the two of you share something in common—a love of adventure stories—and that’s a good thing.
PS: In case you’re interested, there are absolutely NO snakes in this version of Tarzan.