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Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Day 2

As the 'gators advance, a couple of which easily tip the scales at 1500 pounds, I rethink my place on the food chain.

I'm on a crude concrete ramp at Kliebert's Alligator and Turtle farm in Hammond, Louisiana on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain. Ten feet behind me is a fence I cannot possibly scale. Heavy brush, water, and as far as I know another ancient eating-machine lie to my right. My only hope of escape, the shaky wooden scaffold to my right. I back towards it as one of the larger dinosaurs advances, emerging from the water and shuffling up the ramp like the amphibious landing craft that he is.

Where oh where is Mr Kliebert? Surely with his 40-plus years of experience with these critters he would have advice for me on how to handle this increasingly delicate situation. I recently read that that the American Alligator can sprint at over 30 miles an hour over short distances. Of course they wouldn't eat me here. The big one would only have to get hold of an arm or leg and drag me into the primordial ooze of the pond. There I would experience the "death roll" that would 1) drown me, 2) rip off said limp arm for easier eating.

Four more 'gators are on the ramp now. The big one, whose muzzle was badly mangled by a fight back when Truman was president, stops and lets out something like a sigh. It reminds me of the big breath the T Rex let out in Jurassic Park right before all hell broke loose. The hair on my neck goes up as my desire to learn more about the culinary history of alligators recedes. I try to savor this strange emotion. Never before have I been stalked by an animal I eat. Cows aren't very scary unless there are a great many of them and they're running right at you. Neither are chickens. Ditto sheep, goats, or any other quadruped I've dined upon. As for fish, I'm not big on eating shark and the few I've faced in open water showed no interest in me whatsoever. But right here, right now, I am no longer the apex predator and I am being eyed like a big pork dumpling on a dim sum cart.

To be continued.

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