Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mr. Slithery

I wish I would have just laughed. Given the chance to rewind the minutes and return to that moment in my car last Monday evening, I would have garnered all my self control and simply laughed when the black snake slithered out of the folded paper bag and onto the floorboard of my car. But as Branson gasped and I watched the sneaky reptile weave it's long, skinny self into the console between mine and my sons' feet, I was anything but humored.
Definitely not laughing.
Just moments before, we were driving along, all five of us (six if you count the snake) in my car headed home after a restful day at Bourland fishing and riding bikes and just hanging out.
Somehow I'd been convinced that the snake (whose real home was clearly at Cappy & Daboo's) needed to traverse to suburban Fort Worth for a new home. To live an a glass aquarium. Outside.
But now the fugitive was free, wriggling around on the floorboard of my car!
I pulled to the curb and hopped out of the car in disbelief that the thing had actually escaped. In my frustration, I told the kids that I was angry, but mostly angry with myself that I'd agreed to bring the stupid thing home. I said it aloud, "stupid."
The STUPID thing home.
We waited a few seconds, breathless, watching the floorboard for the periscope head. No luck.
I knew it was harmless, a greenish-black grass snake. The kids had each held it, even played with it in Daboo's driveway, so my rational mind knew it was safe. But picturing the thing wrapping itself around my ankle while driving - my mind was too small for rational thinking.
We made it home with much fear and trembling. While the rest of us unloaded the car, Branson peeked around car seats and even under the hood, looking for something black and skinny moving among the hot engine parts. Nothing. Ugh.
Later that night, trying to go to sleep, my thoughts turned to where they often turn in the dark, quiet of night, thinking back over the day and my interactions with my family, most often wishing I would have handled something differently.
Reflecting on the moment of the snake escape, I was surprised at how quickly I went from happy and laughing and joking with the kids to instant irritation. Snake or not, it was, afterall, harmless. And really, I'm not THAT scared of snakes. My husband, for example, gets much more freaked out by snakes than I do. But if you would have been in the car with me for that five minutes when I was driving home, you would have been more afraid of me than of Mr. Slithery. I lost it. This was a situation I didn't see coming, and it was totally out of my control.
Now, back up a minute, and let me say that we were coming home (with Corbin conveniently out of town) to a second de-licing party. Uh-huh. Two of my children showed up with lice a week ago, so Corbin got the job of running to Walgreens, and I got the job of shampooing and combing. Lice. Gross. So maybe, just maybe, my frustration stemmed from snakes AND lice in the same evening? It wasn't a cognitive thought, but add to that the other regular, mindless parts of my day - like cleaning not one, but two toilets before 7:30 am, not because I was cleaning house, but out of urgent necessity.
So fast forward twenty-four hours. We spent the next day driving with trepidation. We warned our entire carpool to watch out for Mr. Slithery, and on the mile-drive home from school all of us imagined we felt the thing slide down our necks, under our seats, around our wrists as we drove along. An optimist, I convinced myself that our new friend had found it's way out of the car completely.
So imagine my surprise last night when I opened my car door to run a quick errand, and right in front of me was Mr. Slithery in all his glory, sunbathing on my driver's seat. Yes, he was. Sunbathing. I don't know who had a bigger heart attack (do snakes have hearts?!) - me, startled by the black squiggly thing right where my bottom was about to be, or Mr. Slithery, sitting there minding his own business only to be awakened by a sudden, piercing shriek. It less than a blink, he was out of the car. No slithering involved. Just a PLOP onto the pavement, inches from my flip flops, then straight under the car to safety.
This time, relief washing over me, I did laugh as I imagined him lying on that shadowed concrete scared and wondering what in the world just happened. I laughed, ran my errand in a reptile-free car, then came home to clean-haired children in a house with clean toilets. Bliss!