I don’t like bugs. Creepy, crawly things make me weak in the knees. Lizards are a notch higher on the fear barometer. I can hardly sleep at night when I see one lurch off a potted plant. I quickly slam my bedroom door lest they come looking for me and crawl up on my bed to get a good look, maybe take a small bite. Who am I kidding? They are small enough to walk right under my bedroom door! You can see why I don’t get any sleep when I know there is one stalking me.
Imagine lizard anxiety ramped to, oh, say the way you felt about swimming at the beach the day after you saw “Jaws.” Except that instead of a lizard intruder, your intruder is a snake. A snake that is possibly not only poisonous, but the kind that can unhinge its jaws and swallow things much larger than itself, like a human foot or a hand.
Monday I was in cleaning mode and opened the door to the hall closet to retrieve my vacuum cleaner when I saw 12 inches of black tail wiggle under a mountain of Christmas decorations. In shock, I slammed the door and grabbed a towel from the laundry room and shoved it under the door. Aware that this was most likely a powerful snake capable of ripping the towel from the door, I added two 5-gallon containers of floor cleaner to slow him down.
I immediately reached out for my lifeline for all that is creepy and crawly – my sister who lives on a farm in Mississippi. “Janet, I have a snake in my hall closet. If I don’t open the door until after Halloween, do you think he will just die there?” She never even took a breath: “Get someone to get that snake out of your closet now!” I said, “I don’t know anyone who catches snakes.” “Just GO! NOW!”
I stumbled into the street and saw my neighbor, Ken, trimming his shrubs. “Oh, Ken, do you know anything about snakes?” He looked at me like I might have asked had he ever traveled to Mars. “Why are you asking?” he replied. “Well, I have a snake in my hall closet.”
I could tell by his expression that he did not believe me. Then I described in detail what had transpired. He called his sweet wife, Lynn, for backup or possibly to be a witness to my insanity. They accompanied me to my house without any sign of a weapon or protective equipment. My confidence in Ken was rapidly evaporating.
When we arrived at my barricaded closet, he carefully removed all my protection. I jumped back, leaving Ken and Lynn starring into a closet full of seasonal décor, household cleaning tools and boxes of my children’s history recorded in 8 millimeter and VHS. Ken turned to me where I stood a safe 8 feet behind them. “We’re going to need to take out all this … stuff, to see if there is a snake in here.”
Box by box, out came my “stuff.” With every item Ken handed to Lynn, I was certain the monster snake would slither out. Nothing. Beside me in the hall stood a 6-foot pile of “stuff.” When Ken reached the back of the closet, finally, he yelled out, “I see it! Get a towel, I’m going to pick up the snake.” What? He’s not going to blow it to bits with a .38 special? Chop it up with a hatchet? Scoop it up in a crab net? I fetched a towel and did a hand-off to Lynn who tossed it to Ken. Two minutes later, Ken yelled, “I’ve got it! Open the door.”
I sailed through the hallway, flung open the front door and ran out into the front yard. Ken came behind me, carrying the dangerous creature. When he got to his yard, he dumped the snake in a garbage can. He reported it to be a 4-foot-long garden snake, possibly frightened to death. Lynn said she knew of a good therapist who worked with pets and might accept a traumatized snake.
With my reputation intact, I have added snakes to my list of creepy, crawly things that I have to worry about in my house. Did I happen to mention the time I found a field mouse in my pantry? Here in my neighborhood, it’s just a wild kingdom.