Right before Christmas there was a situation where someone said I couldn't finish a whole bottle of wine on my own and I proved them wrong. After winning I remember walking in to my home office - in quite a good mood, I might add - where I discovered that Groupon had sent me a very personal message regarding some upcoming events in my area.
There was one that stood out to me. It stood out because the Groupon had told me that the items being offered were "hand picked" for me. It was a reptile convention.
Thought #1 - I f*cking hate snakes. <angry face emoji with squinty eyes>
Thought #2 - Their algorithm is for sh*t.
Thought #3 - No, seriously, I f*cking hate snakes. How f*cking fun would it be to go to that with friends after some drinks? <screaming face emoji>
Thought #4 - Boy, I cuss more when I drink. ....I hope.
(Side note - Since some of my friends have non-apple phones and can not see characters I send from the new set of emojis, I have taken to writing them out. This effort has amused me SO MUCH that now I don't even use the pictures. It is almost more amusing when you speak them aloud. You need to try this. Next time you drop something, turn to your friend and say [in a quiet voice] "shit emoji". It just works.)
So I immediately bought 4 tickets to Repticon before I could think better of it. And then I giggled and ran out of the room like a 5 year old girl.
I honestly do hate snakes. All of them. There are no cute ones. <serious face emoji> And lizards. And anything that looks like one of those. Every time I see a reptile I have the same facial expression as if you have just presented me with an open bucket of urine. What? Why? Ugh, no. No, please! Plus I could only imagine that the audience at a convention of my least favorite things would somehow match the subject matter. People who I normally measure a strategic fence around when confronted with.
Fast forward 30+ days and I have convinced 3 of my clear-thinking, job possessing, sober, adult friends to go with me to the Maryland State Fairgrounds for a reptile convention. Yeah, I have no idea why they agreed either. To be clear, I approached them all with the same marketing pitch:
"I hate snakes. I think I can work on this, I can change, I just need to understand them a bit better <cough>. I would like you - as my close and dear friend - to support me by going to this immersion event."
My friend Kelli was agreeable immediately saying that she had no problem with reptiles and it sounded weird and fun. What she had a problem with was spiders. But it's not like there would be spiders at a reptile convention. Right, haha?
Game on. <jerky friend smiley face emoji>
Seeing as I tend to drone on about things I will try to summarize the experience and then just share a crapload of captioned photos to serve as experience examples.
After arriving at REPTICON we spent about an hour milling about the aisles, familiarizing ourself with the crowd, the location of the exits, the "food court" in the back and the people that were there to be seen. Freaks.
My *friends would repeatedly run up to me with unveiled glee announcing that they had 'something for me to see' and pull me in one direction or another. I got increasingly more uncomfortable with the poor level of containment some ghetto vendors on the east side of the show employed. It was slapdash AT BEST. Giant f*cking snakes were moving about inside the very same grocery store containers that have a hard time containing a vegetable platter. And no one was watching them! On top of that I had totally met my limit of seeing zip-locked dead rodents, airbrushed reptile art and flagrant misuse of polar fleece.
The needle on the haystack was when I took a quiet moment over by the salad containers of scorpions and noticed that there were empty spots on the table. I looked down at a girl - about the age of 11 - whose father had just purchased something and screamed internally as her father turned and handed her the container to walk away. I looked back at the table to immediately scan for what could possibly be the LEAST threatening item for sale. Something that is so safe and mundane that you would hand it to a child in a take-out carrier secured only with one piece of scotch tape. (Cause kids don't drop shit, right?) My answer - a fucking tarantula. That was the safest thing on offer at that table.
I am so outta here. Drop the mic. Find the door.
As I signaled to my friends that I was now leaving, I noticed that my stomach was now uncomfortably nested between my breasts. It had never done that before. I'm not sure how that happened. But it was going to hurt when I barfed.
I passed table after table of vendors that were half sold out on my way to the door. How had I been so stupid? The real threat was the myriads of little girls walking around with a tray of nachos in one hand and a live poison dart frog in the other. Why weren't there more obvious fatalities already? I should never have worked at Discovery Channel, they totally ruined me with an education. I walked straight out of the building.
My party reunited outside and we agreed we were done with that experience. Coincidentally there was also a "Pet Expo" going on a mere 200 yards away which explained why there were so many dogs attending a snake show. <blink> So we decided to hit that phantasmagoria of life forms, too. The Pet Expo was an even larger crush of humanity. It was humid and smelled of artificially flavored novelty popcorn and dog urine. Because dogs had peed on literally every damn thing in there. OR I'm totally wrong and the popcorn vendor was actually selling dog pee flavored popcorn, warm.
A weird thing is that the people at the 'dog, cat, bunny, gerbil, ferret and bird show' were seemingly LESS normal than the people who showed up at the 'snakes and things that will kill you instantly' event, mere moments before. That surprised all of us.
It didn't take long in the general pet expo for most of us to admit that we would pay to leave the experience. We had met our animal and weirdness limits for the day.
** Note: Image captions do not show in mobile version of page. So that sucks a little.