Alice: “I’ll be right back, Killer. And, I call you, Killer, because you slaaay me.
Ralph: “And I’m calling Bellevue because you’re nuts”! Link to TV clip
Last week was my “face your fears time”. It began early one morning with our friend and neighbor, Lydia, knocking on our front door. The Redhead went to the door, as did our two friends visiting from Connecticut, Sue and Mary Ellen. There was a brief conversation, three sentences of which can be recalled: Lydia – “There’s a snake by my backdoor, a bad one. I don’t know what to do”. The Redhead – “I’ll get, Bill”.
Tell me there is a lion in your backyard. No problem. Tell me there is a leak in your faucet. No problem. Tell me there is someone walking down the street, wearing a mask, and carrying your neighbor’s TV. Absolutely, no problemo. But, tell me something is crawling in your backyard and it’s not wearing a diaper. That’s a problem. For me. That this bit of news was delivered by Lydia to The Redhead and Sue and Mary Ellen made this a stomach-churning, knee buckling, cold sweat type of problem. At least for someone still believing in chivalry. And, as Don Quixote found out, chivalry and common sense don’t always go hand in hand. No sir. And timing. Timing is very important. Oh, yeah. Ya’ have to think some things through, very carefully. And, that takes time.
But, on this beautiful sunny morning, time and common sense were two gifts denied me. Thanks in part to dear friend, Sue, blurting out, “I’ll go over”, I needed to DO SOMETHING. Fast! Because, as well intentioned as she was, Sue, from Queens, NY, knows about as much about snakes as Donald Trump knows about hair style and humility.
So, no contemplating a plan. No assembling of an appropriate arsenal of weapons. Just time to grab a shovel, slip on a pair of moccasins (oh, the irony!) and hot foot over to Lydia’s backyard to see, The Bad One.
There he was, curled up just outside her back door. Just a Black Racer napping, I hoped. Now, if someone really hates snakes, as do I, the best hope is for a snake to be (1) a tool used by a plumber, (2) a Black Racer. Both are useful and won’t hurt you. Usually.
So, let me just give this little bugger a nudge and send it on its way somewhere else. What a hero I’ll be – without breaking a sweat! So, tickle, tickle, my little pal. Up goes its head, open goes his mouth, rubbery go my knees. The open white mouth tells the tale: it’s a water moccasin or “cotton mouth”. The books say it all – Avoid, venomous, dangerous, and nasty. Lydia was right, it’s a bad one.
The next five or so minutes must have been like watching the Wallenda Acrobats walking a tight-rope wearing clown shoes. It’s a dangerous act, but it brings out laughter. Lydia has out her camera phone. Sue is saying, “oooh, oooh”! Both are laughing. The snake is not laughing. He looks straight at me as I bring down the sharp edge of my Ames spade shovel. Whack, whack, miss, whack. Another look at the snowy inside of his mouth as he wiggles a little closer. Whacko. This SOB won’t die, I blurt out. More laughing. Oh, ladies, it seems I was born to amuse you. Yikes! This thing is still moving. Whacko, chop. Take that!
At last. Finito! What might have made a fine pair of boots for a midget is now a nearly tri-sected length of nasty. It must be three feet long. Hmm, with a little effort I could stretch this to being an 8 foot menace to humanity. No, we’ll leave well enough alone. A quick catapult into the nearby woods and it’s sayonara for this critter.
Let’s hope the next knock on the door brings with it a friend with a piece of apple pie, maybe a bit of pumpkin bread or a ”I’m just here to visit, put on the coffee”. But, if not, now I’m ready for anything!