Shell Shocked: The ugly alligator
Once upon a time in the far off land of Sanibel lived a tribe of alligators. They were one of two tribes existing in Sanibel at the time. The other species were human beings.
The two species had a mutual understanding. Stay away from me or I’ll kill you. This peace treaty worked well for hundreds of years. Until the day that one alligator was born that didn’t resemble any other alligator. This newly born alligator was jolly, peace loving and gregarious. Unlike the other alligators that stuck to their swamps, this alligator would leave the tribe and wander into town unescorted.
It would wander into Bailey’s axe and spear store and mingle with the humans. At first the humans didn’t know what to make of this unusual behavior on the part of an alligator. They were ready to use the axes and spears on display in the store but this little alligator completely disarmed the humans.
When it opened its huge gaping mouth instead of snarling the alligator smiled and laughed, just like a little puppy dog. The alligator rubbed itself against the legs of the Sanibel cavemen who were in the process of exchanging rocks and stones for axes and spears at the Bailey’s checkout counter.
They warmed up to the little alligator and named it Alfie. Alfie returned to his home in the swamp and told his tribe about his experience in town. The other alligators, which had learned to fear as well as eat humans, were aghast. They told Alfie that humans were their natural enemy and needed to be hated.
Alfie would hear none of this and even made reference to a little girl he met in town that he had a crush on. The alligator elders had an executive committee meeting and declared Alfie to be an alligator non grata. They began to refer to him as the “ugly” alligator and deliberated on how they should handle this most unusual situation.
Never before had an alligator been born to their tribe that possessed genes that made them love humans rather than hate them. Could Alfie remain a member of this tribe with these most un-alligator like characteristics? Alfie prevailed upon the other alligators to have a peace dance with the humans, something that had never been done before.
In the meantime, the girl who Alfie had met at Bailey’s had fallen in love with him and persuaded the humans to accommodate the alligator colony and join them in this peace dance. The girl whose name was Maria was pretty, oh, so pretty.
Before the big dance took place the humans gathered together and joined each other in a tribal adulation ceremony during which they sang: “When you’re a human, you’re a human all the way, from your first cigarette to your last dyin’ day.”
And the alligators prepared for the big dance by gathering around a voodoo doll of King Francis of Sanibel and chanting: “I like to be in Sanibel, okay by me in Sanibel, everything free in Sanibel, for a small fee in Sanibel.”
Then came the night of the big dance. Alfie and Maria met on the balcony of her condo and together they sang: “Tonight, tonight, won’t just be any night, tonight there will be no morning stars.”
The big dance wasn’t a huge success. At the end of it the alligators chanted: “go back to your condos, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
And the humans sang: “That old dank swamp has you in its spell.” The two tribes separated and nothing had changed in their feelings about each other. But where were Alfie and Maria? They had disappeared.
Love had won out. The two lovesick kids left Sanibel and moved to condo caves in Sarasota where mixed marriages between alligators and humans were tolerated. They joined the very first Ringling Brothers Circus which was formed in 2,000 BC and toured the world as the only alligator-human circus act ever created.
Both have been banished from their respective families but they continue to send picture post cards home via dinosaur express. They are waiting for the day that Sanibel allows mixed marriages between alligators and humans. Until then they continue to turn to the bearded lady for sympathy and support.
-Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.