Monday, March 21, 2011

SSSSSouthern Bellesssss

“Snakes.  Why’d it have to be snakes?”

                                                                                    --Indiana Jones

“Enough is enough!  I’m tired of these motherf---ing snakes on this motherf---ing plane!”

                                                                                    --Samuel L. Jackson

“Holy @#&ing @&#!  Kill it!  GAAAAHHHH!”

                                                                                    --Ashley Culbreth Council

Blech.  Snakes.  Ick.

For starters, I’m pretty sure that human beings aren’t supposed to like snakes because that was the form Satan chose to tempt Eve a gazillion years ago.  I realize that there are people out there who think that snakes are the cutest little things they ever did see and I suppose that they are entitled to their opinion—deluded as it may be—but if one of those deluded people and their little pet gets within 100 yards of me, a Restraining Order won’t be the half of it.

I’m also well aware of the argument that snakes are necessary for the balance of nature and the circle of life and all of that crap.  Fine.  They can go and do their part by eating frogs and mice and whatnot, but they better be stealth about it because when I see a snake, I don’t differentiate between venomous and non-venomous:  The only good snake is a dead snake.

I’m not entirely sure whether Ophidiophobia is genetic or a learned behavior.  I can remember being very, very little (I couldn’t have been more than three years old) and out in the garden with my Great-Grandmother Dora.  We were walking back to the house and Grandma saw a snake.  She let out this fantastic Amazonian battle cry whereupon my Great-Uncle Tony immediately came running and efficiently sent the snake to the Great Beyond.  I can’t remember if I was scared.

I know one thing:  Regardless of whether or not my fear is inherited or learned, I got it from my mother.  My mom is more afraid of snakes than I am. 

One day, Mom and I were leaving the house to run some sort of errand and, when we walked out of the front door, a snake was sunning itself slap across our front walk.  I don’t know what kind of snake it was and, again, I tell you that I don’t care. 

Mom told me to keep an eye on the booger while she ran to the garage in order to find some sort of weapon to wield.  I’m not entirely sure what my duties as “watcher” entailed.  I certainly wasn’t going to detain it for custodial questioning.  The most I was willing to do from the safety of the front hall would be to confirm, “Yep, there it went.  Saw it with my own two eyes.” 

A minute or so into my covert surveillance, I heard this blood curdling scream from the back of the house that was reminiscent of the damsels in Hammer Dracula films.  The snake shot into the bushes where it probably died from a heart attack.  I ran to the back where I found Mom leaning against the door frame of the garage and looking like she was about to pass out.

Mom was very undone by the snake and the fact that she would have to take care of it herself rather than send my father into battle made things that much worse.  She rushed into the garage and her speed apparently disturbed some of the things propped up by the door.  A rake or something tipped over and hit Mom on the back and—thinking that the house had been surrounded by attack snakes—she emitted a glass breaking screech.

Mom was both relieved and upset.  She didn’t have to get close enough to the snake to kill it and we had not, in fact, been surrounded by an army of commando snakes intent upon guerilla warfare.  On the down side, the snake lived to fight another day and could very well decide to come out and sun itself again.

On at least two occasions, I have been driving my car and a snake has shot our across the road in front of me.  Each time I completely forgot about being safely cocooned within two tons of metal and threw my hands up and pulled my feet off of the floor so it couldn’t “get me.”  Fortunately, I came to my senses quick enough so as not to kill myself and others, but I can’t guarantee it won’t ever happen again.

I’m not the only one.  I have a dear friend who carries a shotgun while mowing the lawn in case there is a snake sighting.  I also know several friends in law enforcement who have been called to houses as the result of wild or pet snake problems and, rather than wait for Animal Control, weapons have been deployed.  One officer used his day off to repair the floor of an elderly lady's home after he blew a hole through it while answering a 911 call involving a copperhead the night before.  The lady wasn't all that upset--she said that she would have done the same if she had a gun.
I will leave you with one last scary snake story:  Several years ago, one of my cousins lived in a house in Whiteville, North Carolina.  If you have never been to Whiteville, don’t bother—just go and stare at a blank piece of white paper for a while and you get the same effect.  Anyway, my cousin was leaving the house and, when she opened the screen door, a snake that had been resting on top of the door frame fell down the back of her shirt.  The fact that she didn’t expire on the spot is a testament to the strength of a Diamond Magnolia.

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