My friend Shasta and I were driving by a lake today and we saw an alligator swimming in it. He was trolling along through the center of the lake, his big reptillian tail swishing along behind him.
We decided we needed to take a closer look, so we came back a little later and went on a hunt. We walked along the edge of the lake, but we couldn't find it. There were little bubbles rising every once in a while and Shasta looked for rocks to throw to see if we could get it to rise. I started getting a little creeped out because the thought of a muscular eight-foot lizard rising out of the water and snapping at us can creep a guy out.
We decided to walk around to the other side of the lake. We saw some big weird birds that could barely stay up in the branches of the tree they were roosting in. I figured if they fell in the water we might see some Animal Planet action.
As we were about to give up, we walked along the last bit of the lake and there it was, right up near the edge, its eyes and snout sticking up from the water. I went up to get a good look at it and Shasta started assuring me that it would eat me. She didn't want to throw rocks at it anymore. Our friend says that the distance from its eyes to the tip of its snout in inches equals its length in feet. If that's true it's about twelve feet long. I thought it might be eight feet long, though.
The frightening thing about an alligator, besides the muscles under that scaly armor plating, is the eyes. The gator had a dispassionate look, like it had weighed me and didn't matter if I lived or died, like I might look at a plate of raw meat I was about to put on the grill. I could see the flick of the eyelids sliding over the eyes and back. I could see its heavy jowls under the water. We walked past it and back around the lake.
Shasta said I was too close, but I noticed that I wasn't attacked or harmed in any way. Which would argue that I wasn't too close.
I think we're going to take some friends to see it tomorrow.