Alligators: ‘Nuisance’ or Meal?

by Humberto Fontova

My backyard gazebo rocked with Cajun mirth. Even the females cackled. And weird for them, the hilarity was not at their menfolk’s expense. The pitcher of Cuba Libres didn’t hurt. Nor did the rolled and crumpled object we passed around, from hand to hand. They’d get it, a brief pause, then erupt.

"Dynamite stuff!" Artie whooped.

"Incredible!" Cindy gasped.

It was a Miami Herald. "Can you believe those people!" Shirley roared between hits from their "local news" section.

"Hoooo-Yaaah!" each guest erupted. "Oh — HAW-HEE-HA-HA!"They gripped the railing and spat out geysers of icy Bacardi, their faces contorted, their torsos racked with convulsions.

As uproarious as those late Saturday nights, right after "Saturday Night Live" (The Best Ofs that we get at Blockbuster to reminisce, not the current idiocy)…… then we check the neighborhood for cops, make sure the kids are asleep or safely at friends, dig deep in the secret drawer above the pantry behind the liquor cabinet–(everybody’s already got the munchies too)–then smiling mischievously and looking around furtively — we pull out the glorious stash guaranteed to have us giggling and cackling in minutes — the pirated Amos n’ Andy videos.

But back to The Herald. Their staff is notoriously Pink on politics and Green on outdoor stuff. And such people aren’t given to mirth. They have a blind spot. Like Pat Buchanan once wrote, " a social conscience often means an atrophied sense of humor."

Good old Pat, that was back in 1988 when we could mention him without nodding sadly, back when he jousted with pinkos on "Crossfire" every evening. He’d mount up, kick his steed into a frenzied gallop, and charge the liberals head-on, scattering the motley band in panic.

Now and again one would turn, grab his own lance and take up the challenge. That man was promptly skewered, then dragged behind Pat’s horse for good measure. Round and round the ring they pranced, under a rain of flowers, the horse high-steeping with tail arched. Pat waving his banner back aloft. The stands shaking with "Bravos!" till his victim was a battered, shredded pulp.

Yes, Good Ole Pat, he reveled in his role, whacking the pinkos stupid with his stout Reagenite banner, raining blows about their head and shoulders, reducing them to stuttering wrecks….then a final whack across the seat of the pantaloons as they scurried out the CNN studios with their tail between their legs. Those were the days.

Pat, we miss you ole buddy.

Anyway, the passage that convulsed us wasn’t even Dave Barry. It was in the local news section of The Herald, about how the drought will affect Alligators and they’ll start prowling and showing up in swimming pools, golf course ponds, and suburban canals. Naturally the reporter quoted an alligator "expert" indeed "a crocodilian biologist and professor of zoology at the University of Florida named Kent Vliet."

Kent was properly green, properly sanctimonious, and properly fulla crap: "Alligator are not aggressive. They do not eat humans," he tut-tutted the hysterical yokelry. "Residents of Weston and of Century Village in Pembroke Pines have generated a lot of calls about nuisance gators, But they have no interest in contact with humans."

Here’s a little project for you, Kent. Check out Animal Attack Files. You’ll find, among others an eight footer trying a drag off a 69 yr-old man who was stocking his bird feeder at Hilton Head, a 15 year old boy who was snatched while swimming in a Lake near Punta Gorda, Fla — but escaped, another guy who was grabbed by an 11-footer while snorkeling near Ocala. That’s for starters.

But you’re probably right. In general they’re not aggressive toward humans.

Just ask my neighbor, Artie Bourgeois (Booje-Wah). He’s an alligator "expert" too. And not just on where to aim to cold-cock u2018em with 12 gauge slug. His expertise extends much further, past the skinning process, all the way to the proper seasoning and cooking time. Escoffier, the grand ole man of French cuisine, called fish "the most inexhaustive source of culinary inspiration."

Artie might quibble. Hence he’s in charge of the simmering pot of Sauce Piquante while I tend the Bar-B-Cue on this festive spring afternoon. Both are crammed with the luscious white flesh of alligator, properly seasoned and marinated.

Professor Vliet also informs us in the Miami Herald that: "Crowding has severe social and physiological impact on animals."

We hate to see that kind of thing. In Louisiana we agree wholeheartedly with the good professor. The thought of poor alligators suffering "socially" — and even worse — "physiologically" troubles us greatly — and to action rather than to vapid pontifications.

Indeed our troubled consciences propel us from the sofa all the way to the gun rack for a remedy.

Typical for Louisiana, the meat procurement for today’s bacchanal was as festive as the dining. It took place on a golf course behind a friend’s house. The McKees had recently moved here from the East Coast. Their precious poodle, Buzzy, had disappeared near a golf pond the week before.

We were on their backyard deck when a hysterical Meaghen and Shirley came running. "There’s a huge alligator by the pond!" Shirley gasped. "He’s on the bank!"

"Oh, Spencer!" Meaghen wailed. "Should we call the proper authorities and have him relocated?! Maybe it’s the one who grabbed Buzzy!".

Artie and I sprung into action as one. We were a blur. "I got a shotgun in the trunk!" he howled over his shoulder while springing from the deck. "Shells too!" while racing toward his car with a whoop.

"Spence!" u2018I seized Spencer by the shoulders and screamed into his face. "The poor beast is probably suffering severe social and physiological impact! Where’s your ax! And a rope!"

Artie was back in seconds shoving shells into his shotgun as we leaped and galloped towards the action, followed by the rest of the guests. "No!" I shouted over my shoulder. "Ya’ll stay here! You sadists! Poor thing is physiologically impacted already! He doesn’t need gawkers!"

Artie was whooping in glee, sounded like Slim Pickens riding that missile in Dr. Strangelove.

It was over in minutes, and at no cost to taxpayers.

In Florida they call "authorities" to "relocate"’ them at taxpayer expense.

We "relocate" them too. First, Artie "relocates" their brain with a well-placed slug. Then we "relocate" the carcass to our Bar-B-Cue.

In Florida they call them "nuisances" and get government flunkies to remove them. In Louisiana we call them "delicious" and throw a party.

Put that in your PETA pipe and smoke it.

Humberto Fontova is author of The Helldiver’s Rodeo, described as, "a must-read for fans of high adventure," by Booklist. As "Fascinating!" by Men’s Journal. And as,"A great book! A worthy adventure for body and spirit! Just what the Doctor ordered!" by Ted Nugent. It will be available at bookstores nationwide later this month, and on the web now. Movie rights are being negotiated.