Monday, April 26, 2010


(WARNING: If you are chronically allergic to tales of horror, woe, mismatched gardening gloves, mighty and fearsome hunters, and, yes, snakes, skip this post.)

The title is slightly exaggerated. It was only one snake.

But it was four feet long and as thick around as my thumb, so I feel entitled to some exaggeration.

This epic tale begins with our two mighty and fearsome hunters, Macavity and Deuteronomy. They used to be two cute orange kittens, and now they aren't. Funny how that works.

A few weeks ago, Macavity actually caught a garden (non-poisonous) snake and brought it to the porch where he could play with it and it couldn't get away. (This is a very cat thing to do. One of my cats once brought a baby barn owl into the house for the same reason, and seemed surprised when we didn't praise him for it.) There was a flaw in his master plan: we have a gap under our front door that's about three-quarters of an inch wide. Where do you think the snake went?

So five days later I'm walking down the hall and I see the Principal's belt in the middle of the floor. That's kind of strange because he either wears it or keeps it on his dresser, and anyway I thought his belt was wider than that. So I slow down to look at this belt but I'm still walking. And then my brain finally gets its shape-recognition act together and lets me know that's a snake.

I stopped walking.

The snake was watching me very carefully, with its head raised up in the air to make sure it could dive for cover if I turned into a cat. To summarize, I called the Teacher and we spent half an hour trying to chase that snake out of the house. It did not want to go. She tried to lift it on a hoe, but snakes are somewhat slippery and they twist around when you lift them up so the snake just fell right back off. (We decided that if you ever see someone carrying a snake towards you on a stick, you shouldn't be impressed because it's a dead snake.) In the end the snake disappeared behind the bookshelves in the hall.

You don't realize how many snake-sized cracks are in your house until you start looking for them, and then you wish you hadn't looked. For two or three days we had no clue where it was. I kept my bedroom door closed at all times, even when I was only going in for half a minute to get something, and I turned the light on before I got out of bed. Even when your mind knows a snake isn't poisonous, your body doesn't care.

We located the snake in the main bathroom before it disappeared again, and I put a sign on the door saying "SNAKE IS HERE" just so people would keep it closed. We shut the cats in there, and when we let them out they looked smug and there were smears of snake blood on the floor, but no actual snake. This was a problem because the main bathroom is the one with the laundry and the shower. The snake never attacked me while I was in there, but I don't think I've ever been so alert that early in the morning.

Finally, almost a week after I first saw it in the hall, the Teacher found it in the open in the bathroom, and this time she called me to take care of it. I put on my closed toe shoes and a pair of mismatched gloves and went in to take care of it.

It's surprising how philosophical you can become when you're looking at a snake. For instance, I came up with a way to prove that we have a soul separate from our bodies, but I'll go into that some other time. Mostly I was trying to persuade my left hand to grab the snake before it went into one of the snake-sized holes I mentioned. The snake started to slide backwards away from me, which I didn't know they could do. I made a grab for it, and I would have had it because it pinned itself against the toilet, but it's very hard to grab something when your hand is being insubordinate and refusing to touch it. The snake was moving very fast now, and ended up cornering itself in our towel shelf, and this time I did manage to pick it up because the idea of another week of constantly looking for a snake under my foot bothered me more than just grabbing it.

After that the story gets boring. The snake didn't bite me. I took it outside and released it into the wild far from our cats. The next morning I was able to take my shower in my habitual mostly-asleep daze. And after the Principal heard that the snake was gone, he awarded my bravery with an Amazon purchase of my choice.

And see, if I'd known that before I had to go stare down the snake, it would have been much easier to do. As in, I'm wondering if I should take the cats to where I put the snake to see if they can catch it and chase it into the house again so that I can get more free books.

1 comment:

  1. You make me giggle! I would definitely take a shower in a hyper-alert state as well if there were a snake in the room. I agree - your mind knowing it isn't poisonous doesn't help your body's reaction a lot!

    Anyway, I applaud your (eventual) bravery, and am glad you got rewarded for it. Let's see, if I got an Amazon purchase of my choice, I think I'd get an iPhone or a Kindle or something! Lucky for your dad you aren't greedy. (: