Cottonmouth: (n) a venomous snake of the swamps in southeastern U.S., that grows to about 4 feet
Camping is where two people possessing limited experience take five other people who have no experience, to convince those individuals that they, in their limited experience, are actually frontiersmen.
I didn’t know this when I was younger.
I got invited to go on a “woodsy trip” because some of my friends thought it would be nice to have me along so I could be funny and tell stories over the fire at night while they toasted marshmallows to a perfect golden brown.
What they did not realize is that I do not favor huge amounts of physical exertion and have been known to sweat when over-thinking. During the day, I found myself an annoying appendage on a process that needed no annoyance other than insisting that a bunch of know-nothings could go into the wilderness and pretend that their “inner cave” people would come to the surface and teach them.
One of the warnings from our two experts—who, we later found out, had simply read a book on the subject—well, one of their admonitions was to “watch out for poisonous snakes.” In this particular region, the most popular variety of the varmints was called a cottonmouth.
I, for one, was curious how the creature had gotten its name, and was told “not to worry much about it because most of the snakes in the area were black snakes, not cottonmouths.”
I paused. I said, “Do they look differently?”
“No,” replied one of the guides. “They’re both black.”
Figuring I had come up with the best possible follow-up question, I queried, “Since they’re both black, how do you know the difference between a black snake and a cottonmouth?”
He rolled his eyes at me. “Don’t be silly,” he chided. “The cottonmouth has a white mouth, which is obvious.”
Everybody else sitting around the circle accepted this explanation. It stirred some concern inside me. If I was going to be close enough to see the inside of a snake’s mouth, to determine whether it was just your average black snake or a cottonmouth, wouldn’t I already be in trouble?
Unless I had a reputation of being a dentist to the reptilian world, I don’t think they would be opening their mouths unless they were planning to bite me.
I was about to bring up this point to my friends when one of the guides—the leaders of our bodies and souls—patted me on the shoulder and said, “Come on. Just trust the Lord.”
As he walked away, I thought, didn’t God warn Adam and Eve about the serpent?