my dad lives down a mile-long dirt road he refers to as his driveway. his house is on a river, so close that the porch overhangs the water, and it's surrounded by a little inlet on the other three sides. so basically he lives on a secluded island. if bad things happen that far out in the boonies, you're pretty much screwed, and we all know people who have harrowing stories to back up that point. (mine involves a diving board, lots of blood, mom driving REALLY fast to the hospital 25 miles away, and staples in my 12-year-old scalp.)
way out in BFE, as it's affectionately known, you get accustomed to wildlife being all around you, but there are some things i never, ever got used to. my three least favorite things on the planet earth: snakes, spiders, and shots. shots for when you step on the inevitable nail (i've always loved going barefoot) or bust your head open and need some novocaine. spiders in the woods and sometimes in your house. and snakes near lakes, rivers, fields, and pretty much any other landform surrounding either of my parents' houses. i am scared shitless of snakes. shots invariably contribute to my overall well-being in the long run and are quickly over with in the short run. spiders i can smush (albeit with closed-toe shoes only). snakes, i can do nothing about. i can't even look at them or think about them without making guttural noises of fear, disgust and utter loathing. ugh. no good can come of a snake.
last weekend, my dad and i were discussing the merits of nonpoisonous vs. poisonous snakes. or, he was discussing their merits, and my stepmom and i were proclaiming the need for ALL snakes to DIE. dad's point was that nonpoisonous snakes tend to be quite territorial (according to my bio-major brother), and they keep the poisonous snakes out of his yard. no matter, says tough girl here. if i see one, i'm just gonna KILL IT. yep.
so here i am a weekend later, back at my dad's. we were all over the county visiting friends and family, and i let him use up the gas in his car while my VW and its premium-fueled gas tank sat under his carport for a couple of days. sunday afternoon i said goodbye to dad and headed down the long dirt road to my mom's. i got about 1/4 mile away, past all of the neighbors, and a little lizard peeked over the edge of the windshield on the passenger side. you know how you can sometimes have about a million thoughts in about half a second? here's how mine went:
"hey look, a little lizard. how cute. what's he doing up on my windshield? i hope he doesn't fall off and get smushed. i wonder if i should stop and get him off of there. [lizard gets a bit more bold and comes further onto the windshield.] hmmm, he's got a really long neck. THAT'S NOT A LIZARD. [insert a shocked-as-shit, mind-numbing, gut-wrenching, soul shaking, pants-peeing, shriek of scared-to-death here.]"
no words, no "holy shit." just "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!" at its loudest, wake-the-dead, if-my-windows-were-down-you-could-have-heard-it-in-georgia SHRIEK.
i have never executed a faster, tighter three-point turn in my life. i speed-dialed my dad (from 1/4 mile away): "I AM ON MY WAY BACK TO YOUR HOUSE GOING VERY FAST AND YOU NEED TO BE OUTSIDE WHEN I GET THERE BECAUSE THERE IS A SNAKE ON MY CAR AND YOU NEED TO GET IT OFF!" [imagine clipped-off words streaming out of my mouth in top-of-my-lungs, rapid succession. i mean, super-loud -- even by my standards. every sentence for the next 10 minutes sounded just like that.]
needless to say, i HAULED ASS back to the house, turned off the car, jumped out, slammed the door, ran 20 feet away from it, jumping up and down, screaming, "THERE'S A SNAAAAAAAAKE ON MY CAAAAAAR! A SNAKE! A FRICKIN SNAKE! THERER'SASNAKEONMYCAR!!!!!!" not sure if it really qualified as yelling; i think it was more like a high-pitched, ear-splitting girlie scream. jumping around, stomping, shuddering, and general ridiculousness accompanied all of this noise.
dad had not made it out of the house yet, but the neighbors were in their yard, laughing their asses off. "YOU EITHER NEED TO STOP LAUGHING OR GET OVER HERE AND GET THIS SNAKE YOURSELF! THERE IS A SNAKE ON MY CAR!"
neighbor lady's response? "i've never seen a car fly over that bridge so fast in my life. i thought you must have had to use the bathroom really bad."
she was half right: it really is a wonder i didn't wet my pants.
so dad ambles out of the house, trying (not very hard) not to laugh at me. "i don't see a snake, kelley. oh, well." snicker.
"HE'S STIIIIILLLL THERE! FIND HIM!!! I WAS DRIVING TOO FREAKIN FAST FOR HIM TO'VE JUMPED OFF!"
"how am i supposed to get a snake i can't find?"
"IF YOU DON'T FIND HIM, YOU ARE DRIVIN ME BACK TO ATLANTA 'CUZ I AM NOT GETTING BACK IN THAT CAR!"
"fine. pop the hood."
so, the lovely folks at the VW dealership have been telling me i need to get the hydraulic hood-holder-upper-thingie fixed, but i've been remiss to spend the $150. i never went up under the hood. that was their problem -- sorry for ya. this had now come back to bite me in the ass. so to speak.
"you need to come hold this hood up for me."
uh, i had no intention of getting within 10 feet of that car right then.
but the snake had. to. go.
i stood as far away from the last place i saw that little green head, holding my arm as far outstretched as i could, realizing i should have spent that $150 last month. plus, that hood was heavy.
and there he is.
curled up under the hood, just below the windshield on the passenger side, was a looooong, skinny, black snake.
dad found the back end of a broom or hoe or rake or oar or something and tried to flip the thing out of the car. it didn't work: he flopped back on the car and slithered away. TOWARDS ME.
this is the point at which my father almost lost his arm, but he acted fast enough for me to not drop the hood on him. little snake dude didn't realize that uncoiling himself just made him easier to snag. try number two was swift and accurate, and dad had the perpetrator up in the air, flying toward the river in no time.
i let the hood drop and jumped up and down, stomping my feet all over the yard, screaming utterances of disgust.
i thanked dad, wished him a happy father's day (he had more than earned that $4 card, buddy), made an ugly face at the neighbors who were still laughing, and drove on to mom's. every now and then i would check the floorboards to make sure i was alone, as i kept picturing mr. snake finding his way through the air vents and into the car. once i got on the highway, i turned on the cruise control and drove with my feet in the seat.
when i told everyone at mom's what had just happened (explaining why i was shaking and wide-eyed: no, i'm not on meth; i just look like it), my brother-in-law asked what kind of snake it was.
"what kind of snake?
"a FUCKING SNAKE!!!!!"
seriously, is there any other kind? sheesh.