Monday, February 14, 2011

Squeezing It All In

Remember the days when there were those things called phone booths and someone in the gang wanted to see how many could squeeze in at one time? On one occasion or another I was probably in the crush stuffed between elbows and Adam’s apples, but clearer in memory are the many times we tried fitting everyone into a car. Most fun were the times Jimmy Lorio would pull up alone to the ticket booth at the Tiger Drive-In, buy a single ticket and then head off into the darkness of the back row where six of us would come piling out of the trunk.

Recently someone sent me a YouTube clip of two boneless carny girls dipping and swaying in chintzy costumes and then folding themselves into a glass box the size of a footstool. I watched about half before deciding there was something creepy about it. Like watching two escapees from the odditorium at Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum in Orlando.

Sometimes the packing and stuffing-in is not limited to just humans. Take a gander at the people and bags in the second photo and the overloaded Jeep in the third picture. Not too unusual to see in a magazine or picture book a photo from Vietnam of six family members piled on a Moped putt-putting through heavy traffic.

The best ‘believe it or not’ story about packing comes from Bangkok, Thailand where customs inspectors at the airport stopped an Indonesian man four days ago with three suspicious suitcases. No matter how it’s explained, cramming what this intrepid smuggler did into just three suitcases is almost impossible to imagine. Did he really think he could get his ‘zoo’ through airport security? Keep in mind that it was all inside of three suitcases. Here’s a list:


88 Indian star tortoises, 33 elongated tortoises, 7 radiated tortoises, 6 mata mata turtles, 4 Southeast Asian narrow-headed softshell turtles, 3 Aldaba tortoises, 1 pig-nosed turtle and 1 ploughshare turtle, the world’s rarest of tortoises.


34 ball pythons, 2 boa constrictors, 2 corn snakes, 1 milk snake, 1 hog-nosed snake, 19 bearded dragon lizards, 4 spiny tailed lizards, 2 Sudan plated lizards, 6 Argentine horned frogs and 18 baboon spiders


22 common squirrels and 1 African gray parrot

The animals all came from Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market, a wide open outdoor trading area where rare and endangered species are bought and sold. Mention of this market’s name enlivened the news report, remembering it as place I visited on two occasions in the past. A vivid experience. Had he wanted, the man could have added cockroaches the size of a Blackberry to his smuggler’s list. It’s a fascinating market. Regarding this week’s bust at the airport, one official noted, “One really has to question how Chatuchak Market, which is located just down the street from both Wildlife Protection and Nature Crime Police offices, can continue these illegal mass sales.” Well, yeah.


  1. How well I, too, remember the piling into the backseat floor to sneak into the drive-in movies. And, remember that it costs only 15 cents to go to the movie!!! I also saw when visiting the Asian countries the piled high bicycles with people and various things. Great post.

  2. Another great post. Did notice you didn't mention the time you and a couple of other people were in a trunk of a car--preparatory to sneaking into a drive-in movie--and the detour through some parking lot and riding over the concrete parking dividers. Memory loss from hitting your head on the trunk roof?


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America