Show and Tell

by Niles Reddick

We were instructed to bring something to school for show and tell in the second grade. The afternoon before, I was playing with a Tonka dump truck, and I jumped back when I saw the small oak snake coiled in the bed. I found the mesh cricket tube we used for fishing, the truck dumped him in, and I snapped the tin lid shut. I sat it outside on the stoop and shared with my mom who said, “You aren’t going to take a snake to school.”

“Why not?”

“How do you know it’s not a venomous snake?”

“I didn’t hear it rattle.”

“Rattlesnakes aren’t the only venomous snakes around here. Dump it out and figure out what else you can take.”

“Okay,” I said but decided to watch Batman instead—the original one with Adam West.

The next morning, my snake was still in the cricket container, and I carried it by the lid’s rope. I put the cricket container behind my books under my desk and didn’t tell anyone. When it was my turn, and the teacher asked what I brought, I pulled the cricket container and walked to the front of the room.

“Looks like you have a fish bait container.”

“That’s right, and I have a snake trapped in here.”

The class oohed and aahed as I shook it, and they saw the outstretched snake trying to slither its way through the metal mesh. I walked over to the front row where Becky sat and shook it at her. She screamed and began to cry.

“Okay, thank you. That’s enough. Let’s take this to the principal’s office.” The teacher said something to the principal and then went back to the class.

“Now, let’s see. What’ve you got here?” Principal Becker asked.

“I found him in my Tonka truck bed.”

“You know, oak snakes eat all sorts of varmints. Let’s take him out and let him go in the woods. He’s probably hungry.”

When I opened the lid, the snake struck me in the palm of my hand. “Ow!” I said. The snake then slithered and disappeared into the leaves and straw at the edge of the school’s mowed property.

“You’ll be okay. Let’s wipe it with some alcohol, paint some mercurochrome on it, and put a bandage on there. I’ll call your mom and let her know. Does it hurt?”

“No,” I said. “I guess he didn’t appreciate being trapped.”

Mr. Becker was very kind, patted my head, and said, “I’ll bet your classmates will talk about how cool your show and tell was.”

If he’d called my mom, she never said anything about it. Maybe he comforted her in the call, told her I was fine, just being a boy.