Drawing by Julie Zavala
When I saw a segment on the morning news about a giant African land snail invading Houston, I immediately thought of our son.
A Sam Houston State University researcher warned against picking up this invasive species because it spreads deadly meningitis to humans. At 15, our son is a bit past the stage of touching every living creature in the great outdoors, but Paul still came immediately to my mind when the TV said people were unknowingly spreading disease by holding the snails because they looked so unusual.
Of course, I did what any 21st century father does when he wants to contact his son in his seocnd-floor bedroom at 6:30 in the morning -- I texted him. Here is how that exchange went:
Me to Paul:
Don't touch giant African snails if you ever see one. One has been found in Houston -- they can make you really sick.
Ah, yes, the African snail. I know how to identify those from my expeditions in Cameroon.
I knew Paul the Explorer would be OK. I thought you encountered them previously in Uganda, though.
No, no, no, my dearest Christopher. That was the Archachatin marginata. A closely related snail similiar in appearance.
Ah, yes, I can be a tad slow with my snail identification. Oh, how I enjoy wordplay involving molluscs.
What text exchanges have you had with your children lately?
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