Columnist

Mike Buzzelli is a stand-up comedian and published author. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

I’m about to get on a boat and go on a swamp tour in New Orleans. It just proves the old saying, “You can talk Mike into anything.” Over the years, my friends have convinced me to jump out of an airplane, go whitewater rafting and sing karaoke.

I parachuted out of an airplane and paddled through the rapids stone sober, but to get me to sing karaoke involved many, many Jell-O shots. My rendition of “Never Going to Give You Up” was flawless though.

You’ve just been Rick-Rolled.

But I digress, like I do. I am not fond of alligators or crocodiles. I was told the difference between alligator and crocodile is in the shape of their heads. I don’t want to get near enough to either of their heads to figure it out. That’s where the teeth are – and that’s the scariest part.

Riding around on an airboat in the swamp sounds cool until I had to sign this waiver. There’s nothing quite like a waiver to make me quiver and quaver. The form is basically telling me that I’m the idiot for getting on this boat, and if anything happens it’s my fault. Blame my friends!

The waiver convinced me that there were frightful creatures afoot. Some of those critters don’t even have feet – like snakes.

They just assured us we would see alligators. Um. Thank you?

The alligators don’t just stay in the swamp. They’re like Mastercard – they are everywhere you want to be. You can even find them in Disney World! No one wants to run into a gator on their way to “It’s a Small World.” It’s bad enough someone talked you into going on “It’s A Small World.”

Did you know that Florida wildlife officials have removed 250 alligators from Disney properties since 2016?

According to the Orlando Sentinel, trappers receive $30 for every captured gator. Just $30! These people need a raise. I don’t know how much you’d have to pay me to hunt alligators, but it’s way over $30. Way over.

Once an alligator is determined to be a nuisance, they turn them into handbags. The smaller ones are sent to alligator farms, wildlife preserves and zoos.

I bet your asking, “How does an alligator become a nuisance?”

I want to say, “Listening to heavy metal at 3 in the morning,” but Florida’s Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program has the real answer. And, yes, that’s the real name. Personally, I’d use a word stronger than “nuisance.”

The Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program states that an alligator must be at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) long to pose a threat to people, pets and property.

I really don’t want to be the guy that calls in a 3-foot, 11-inch alligator only to be turned away. I also don’t want to be out on the lawn with a tape measure asking an alligator to hold still.

If you’re reading this, I survived the swamp tour, but check the obituary section just in case.

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