Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The tale of the snake


The COVID lockdown was a total excuse killer. “Hey you promised to clean the garage.” “Yeah, but I have to… well – I got no excuses now”.
It’s Monday. I figure I can come up with something. Some sort of excuse. I have the rest of the week.
Saturday I’m cleaning out the garage.
There’s a box on the shelf. It’s been there a while. It houses my wife’s Four Seasons plate collection. Each plate has a scene representing one of the four seasons.
Many years ago – at least seven – we wife boxed up the set of plates. Each plate was wrapped in paper. In addition one or more pieces of foam was placed between each.
About a year later I was getting something out of the garage and I couldn’t help but notice that there was part of a black rat snake on a shelf. The rest of the snake was disappearing into the plates box. I also noticed that there were stains on the box. I assumed it to be the blood of its rivals.
I have mixed emotions about snakes. On the one hand, they eat mice. Mice are destructive little buggers. Over the past ten years we have spent around $500 on mouse related car and garage damage.
Having a snake in the garage – for free – is a solid investment.
On the other hand snakes give me the heebie jeebies. Especially when I stumble on one in the garage.
In either case, I decided the snake was just fine where it was, for the time being.
Six years later I figured it was time to open the box, move the plates to a new box and burn the box.
I figured the snake had moved out. But I wasn’t sure.
So I took a metal pole and beat the hell out of the side of the box. Nothing.
I turned the box around and beat the snot out of the other side of the box. Again, nothing.
The box being a rectangle, I decided to beat the two other sides. No response.
I then took the box and placed it near the floor. I opened it and removed things as follows: Padding, plate, padding plate.
Before we go any further let me just say that I am not given to using a lot of “adult” language.
That’s kind of like saying that Jeff Bezos doesn’t have a lot of money… Especially when we I see a snake.
(You’ve been warned).
I opened the box and there was carnage. Shredded paper. And stains.
The detective in me realized that mice had moved in and then the snake slid in. It was like Golden Corral. Pre-COVID.
I haven’t been to Golden Corral since the big heart attack of 2015, but I do remember this: Every time I went, after I finished eating… I left.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the opening of this box was NOTHING like the Geraldo Rivera Al Capone vault special.
So I grabbed the padding, Looked in and saw the first plate. Set it aside, removed more padding and the second plate. Set it aside, removed more padding and another plate. Three down, one to go. Removed more padding and hello black rat snake.
“Shiiiiiiiit!”
I looked again and the snake wasn’t moving. I figure – well, it’s dead. I mean snakes aren’t immortal, right?
I went back inside and said “Honey. We have a dead snake in a box in the garage.”
“Does it stink?”
“Huh. You’d think a dead snake would stink, but no, it did not.”
We went back out to the garage. I touched something next to the snake, and it moved – a little.
“Shiiiiiiiit!”
(One of the first things I learned about myself is this: I cannot watch a snake move unexpectedly and NOT say “Shit.” Or worse.)
We took a walk and talked about it - we weren't sure if the movement was because of what else I moved in the box... so it was Schrödinger's snake.
But when I went out to the garage (much) later, it was gone.
That’s good, but it’s also bad.
At this point I’m thinking it’s out of the box. But I’m also thinking out of the box myself – in that I’m not BELIEVING it’s out of the box. This is why I employed my wife’s advice.
“You could use fireplace tongs.”  Notice the pronoun used – YOU, not me, not I, not we… YOU.
“On the snake? What am I supposed to do? Grab it and fling it to the woods? What if snakes have boomerang ability?”
Beth sighed and said “No! Use the tongs on the plate and then let the snake out of the box.”
“The snake would crawl around the garage floor once it got out. I don’t like that idea.”
“You could put it out in the woods”
“No. I’m not picking up that box.”
I know the snake didn’t move the last time when I beat on the box. When I picked the box up, when I moved the box. Of course we all know that, because the plates inside weren’t smashed!
If that snake had so much as moved when I was carrying the box I would have dropped it like a hot coal and ran like Usain Bolt.
Later I looked it up. Snakes are sluggish at 60 or below. At the time the adventure started the temperature was, in fact, 60 degrees. Had I just went in and grabbed the plate the adventure would have ended.
It was 80 when I read that fact, so it didn’t qualify as useful information.


Sometime later I performed the next act the one person (and what I hoped was no reptile) play.
Phil: It's been enough time for that snake to get out of the box, I'm going to look.
Phil: (Looks in box). Yep, he's gone.
Phil: (Grabs fireplace tongs to lift up the next item in the box, and lifts it...)
Snake: Hello... what's a reptile gotta do to get a little sleep around here?
Phil: 
Shiiiiiiiit! (Exits stage right).
Curtain falls.
It occurred to me that I had a resource at my disposal to help take care of the snake. A teenager. One that wants money.
We negotiated a price: My son Tom would get the plate out for $4. If he did it while the snake was still in the box I would give him $8.
I could tell the rest of the story, but a picture (or in this case a YouTube video) is worth 1000 words.

Best $8 I ever spent.

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