Bellingham by the Bay

The Garden of Eden needs attention

In comes the Chinese Year of the Snake; it’s an auspicious year for children to be born — lucky in favor, prosperous in fortune. A splendid life awaiting each and every one.

It’s a grand year for many a serpent and his childhood pals. Take a serpent to lunch this week. Actually I was waiting for the Year of the Coelacanth. Those are rare prehistoric fish caught off the Mexican coast every eon or so. It was long-considered-extinct (gosh, I’m getting the same feeling), but I may have to wait for another 100,000 years to catch a coelacanth or anyone on terra firma that has purity in her heart. All I’ve caught lately is a series of colds on Nob Hill. Then again, do I have anything better to do? I’d better start fishing now.

As for me, I was born in the Year of the Rabbit. Adorable, cuddly, affectionate, nervously trembling at every encounter trying vainly to keep my head down. Afraid of an offhand, cruel remark, while eagerly anticipating a sweet gesture of kindness I don’t deserve.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not beyond saying something scorching to a passing reptile I may have met in a local watering hole.. “Bugger off, slitherer!”

Years ago, I met Stuart Whitman — he was a big cowboy film star, terrifically macho. Toward the end of his career, he made a low-budget film with Janet Leigh. It was called Night of the Lepus. That is, Night of the Rabbits, where bunnies attack the local townsfolk, and the sweet beasties, turned carnivorous, had to be incinerated by the California National Guard. What kind of psychedelic drugs the producers of this movie were on, I’ll never know. Lepuscide? The murder of bunnies? It’s hard to imagine a gunslinger challenging little bunny rabbits.

Ah, but that’s Hollywood. We’d be better off with “Night of the Rabbi.” Not that I suggest anyone pull a .44 on a rabbi. I was just thinking it would be better off to debate the trailblazing desperado until he succumbs. That goes for the gunfighter, too. I asked Mr. Whitman about the film. He never spoke to me again. Perhaps he’s waiting for an Easter re-release.

Back to aberrations of nature: Despite the constant fear of being gobbled up by snakes, in truth, their “hissss” is worse than their bite. (Do you remember that old rock song, covered by Cher, “It’s In His ‘Hissss'”?)

In truth, I like snakes. They’re not really slimy. Not unlike a lot of creatures who traverse the city of San Francisco. In the medieval masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, the poet Dante (with his pal Homer as his guide), writes that the flagrantly sinning flatterers (yea, flattery was considered a mortal sin) be remanded to the lowest Circle of Hell. That’s an unpleasant accommodation where such miscreants like murders, rapists, and investment bankers share bunks. No air conditioning, I’ll bet. Unless one sells indulgences to the local air conditioning company (a Catholic joke.) That’s until I wonder where that leaves those of us like me to accept those flatteries, take them to heart, and hang them over the eternal fireplace where it’s pretty bloody warm.

Rabbits are so vulnerable with all that fur. They want to loved — up to a point. Don’t push the world of zoology too hard; mixing in astrology and science might have an explosive effect. Then there is the specter of being sautéed in Dijon mustard sauce. Rabbits are likely to frame their own hall of fame, hanging onto every compliment, seeking the breeze, dwelling on the accolades of yesteryear, apprehensive of the future, and sighing, “Damn, I wish I were born in the Year of the Snake.”

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Bruce Bellingham is the author of Bellingham by the Bay. He was, indeed born in the Year of the Rabbit, and has nightmares about being immersed in Dijon mustard sauce. Without due process. Call him for a recipe: 415-810-1853 or e-mail: [email protected].