Traveling Companions

Birds Down Your Pants
& the Frozen Armadillo

Don’t ask us why, but people have been stuffing all sorts of small animals down their pants for years now. They get caught all the time with hairy spiders, rare scorpions, slithering snakes, even live lobsters moving down their legs. Not even airport screeners want to know why.
Some kind of genetic freak calling the shots on this one, that’s what we say. But when they start beating each other up with frozen armadillos, well, that’s when we step in and draw the line, for crying out loud.
So smugglers do that for a living. Low-lifes. Two-time crooks do it on a dare, or for dope money. So what? Even if these bottom feeders show more nerve than noodles, we’re not about to give them a free pass for making their business to traffic on the defenseless.
It doesn’t matter that these critters fetch a lot of dough in the black market, i.e., people even worse than, well. There’s never shortage of grifters out for a quick buck. What gets to us, though, is when it’s personal and, rather than throwing iPhones, as any past-their-prime supermodels would, they toss a pet at their foes.
That really gets our blood boiling. Ok, so it was not a pet, it was an armadillo, and it was frozen, and no one we know raises one of them as a pet, although they might. Still.
So this Texas woman planned to dine on an armadillo’s carcass some guy just happened to be selling out of the back of his car. One should never trust a story that starts with that kind of intro, by the way.
Apparently, she didn’t know or care that you’re not supposed to sell these endangered animals anywhere in the U.S. Actually, to be perfectly truthful, you can sell and buy them, but not live ones or them whole, you got that? Soup, anyone?
Again, as we said, do you really think she cared? Anyway, an argument over the price ensued right there, at the busy parking lot the man had turned into his private marketplace. They disagreed, their voices were raised and, Kaboom!, and then, Kaboom! again.
The police said the man hit the woman twice with the frozen mammal, a species with more about it than meets an untrained eye. Apparently, after all these years, he’s still on the run.

In one of those completely unrelated news about the same animal, it turns out that armadillos are very well endowed. How well? The male organ is two thirds its length, that’s how well. But since we’re down this path anyway, they’re nowhere near barnacles.
The hermaphrodite sea creature is so well hung that it doesn’t even need to move to mate: ‘it’ can be 10 times the length of its body. That’s convenient, because they’s spend their entire lives attached to a rock. Unless of course, they’re found wrapping a Citi Bike.
Besides, being hermaphrodites and all, they really can self-reproduce, so we have no idea why nature even bothered giving them such a ‘reach.’ There, now you know more than you ever wanted to about barnacles. How come we’re talking about barnacles now?

As we were saying, people are used to carry all sorts of scary things in their pants. Take this Alberta man, for example. He was caught trying to cross the U.S. border into Canada with a loaded handgun in his pants and tarantulas, snakes and scorpions in his truck.
Yes, it’s not completely to the point, but still. Want another one? What about Johan Adolfsson, a Swede traveling from Thailand to Australia, who was found to be carrying four king cobras and four (more)
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emerald tree boas– strapped to his inner thighs.
Any of them could’ve killed him during the nine hours trip. Fortunately for him, and sadly for the cobras, they actually died during the flight.
He’d no time to brag: caught in the act, he was fined and sent to jail. Should’ve done as many are doing these days: call his loot ‘emotional support pets.’

Naturally, smugglers are by far the most colorful and arguably the least reasonable characters to be caught with red pants. Lizards hidden in slacks, Titi monkeys in pouches, exotic fish under skirts, the list goes on, and we’re not even getting into drug traffickers here.
Some time ago, we told you about this guy who tried to overrun a shopkeeper in hot pursuit, carrying two lobsters in his pockets. We always wonder, how come these people never seem to get bitten by their loot? Anyway, it must be something other than luck. Or brains.
But perhaps no one caught our fancy like a Dutch guy who got arrested at the Rochambeau airport in Cayenne, French Guiana, for carrying a number of live, tiny hummingbirds, individually wrapped in little packets on his, er, nether areas.
Of course, he was no poet, and such a loot could’ve fetch him something upwards of $13,000 to &15,000. So is not that he was an enthusiast of this endangered and most delicate of the bird species. He was, however, a repeat offender, according to custom officers who detained him. So, who knows?
Thus, next time you’re at the airport check-in line and there’s a guy behind you whose pants seem to be moving, careful now, it can be many, many things, including that he’s very happy to see you.
We wouldn’t bet on that though. As eternally naive and believers in the wonderful nature of all human beings, we’d start walking away immediately. Don’t they know what Goliaths do to opossums?
Our experience tells us that, if we’re in a contained environment, say the cabin of a crowded airplane flying over 30,000 feet above the ocean, and there’s someone among the passengers carrying a big tarantula in his pants, chances are, he’ll be sitting right next to us.
What can we tell you? We’re funny that way. And that’s just one of the many heartwarming thoughts going through our mind at the airport check-in line, along with a lot of other, equally scary, scenarios.
Coming to think of it, never mind the smugglers, we’re taking the bus.

(*) Originally published on Aug. 15, 2011.

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