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Damn You Jay Leno

May 2, 2009

Tonight I nodded off while watching the local news.  I was roused from slumber when my husband came to bed, only to find that the news was over and Jay Leno was on.  As a rule I don’t watch Jay – I’m a Letterman kinda gal.  I just don’t think Jay is all that funny, and now he’s sealed his fate with me and I most certainly will not be watching his new show.


On this episode he has Arsenio Hall as a guest.  I came into the episode sometime after Arsenio’s interview, but he is still in the chair next to Jay, while Jay is up and talking to Jules Sylvester. Sylvester is talking to Jay about the snake he has in a box, a Black Mamba.  As Sylvester approaches his box with his snake catcher stick, Hall goes running into the audience in seeming terror – and I’m right there with him.  These damn things are something to be feared, not shook about and made angry before a live audience for amusement – I don’t care if the damn thing has had it’s venom milked.  Hall starts making crazy noises, distracting everyone, and pissing off the snake even further.  Sylvester eventually gets the damn thing back in it’s box after doing an odd dodge and weave dance trying to avoid getting bit by the seriously ticked off and agitated reptile.

By this time mind you, I am holding my breath and clutching my bedclothes in apoplexy.  I do not, let me repeat, DO NOT like snakes.  I don’t even like the thought of snakes.  And, thanks to Klaus Kinski, I am insanely afraid of black mambas in particular.

I attended college in Switzerland in the mid 1980s. This was back in the day before international satellite with 1000 channels.  Instead we had 4 major channels in 3 different languages and the only regular programming in English was a weekly Sunday movie. One fine Sunday night the Swiss decided to show Venom, a dreadful film with Klaus Kinski as an international terrorist holding a family hostage while a Black Mamba is loose in the air ducts.

 Let’s just say that this film terrified me, stuck with me, haunted me, and ruined my spring break that year.

Shortly after seeing this film, I took a trip to Kenya with a bunch of friends for spring break.  Did I mention that the black mamba is indigenous to Kenya?  Needless to say, I was leery.  I refused to sit at any outdoor tables under trees, convinced that in the middle of my meal a black mamba was going to come slithering out of the tree branches and land in my lap, and I frequently checked under the bed, and in the bed sheets just in case one was lurking waiting to bite my toes when I went to bed. Of course, my paranoia was not aided in the slightest by the free flowing ganja delivered daily by our dutiful drug dealer (they appear by the side of your chaise lounge on the beach like tour guides and souveneir salemen.)

At one point during our trip I accosted a member of the hotel staff demanding to know where the damn mambas were.  He nervously pointed down the road and informed me that there was a whole farm of them nearby.  My heart nearly stopped at the thought that they were so close. It wasn’t relieved much when another member of staff clarified that mamba is the Swahili word for crocodile and that there weren’t dozens of poisonous snakes down the road, just big vicious crocodiles.

Alas, in the intervening years I have managed to put some time and some distance between myself, Klaus Kinski, and the damned black mambas.  That is, until tonight.  I am now wide awake, jittery, and checking under my bed for fuckin’ mambas.  Damn you Jay Leno.

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