Two summers ago, I learned how to breathe into a paper bag. My worst nightmare came true. A seven-foot snake was on the loose somewhere on our street. How did I know this? Because an ambulance drove by my house, with our neighbor in it, who had been startled by the snake and was having heart and breathing problems. Her exasperated husband explained the whole thing to me while showing me pictures of said snake.
I called Animal Control and they said unless it was a rattlesnake (i.e. can kill you), which it wasn’t, they wouldn’t do anything about it. I posted on some local Facebook pages about what to do and someone gave me the name of “Dale,” the “Snakeman” – a grown male who will come catch a snake and take it away for free because he ENJOYS it (and apparently doesn’t have bills to pay). I promptly called Snakeman and he said that he would be in my area that evening because he already had a snake-chasing date nearby. I fantasized about what Snakeman would be like, and how an adult could chase snakes all day for free. I have to say, Snakeman pretty much hit the mark and made all of my wildest dreams (and nightmares) come true.
First, he rolls up in a car with “Snake Patrol” decalled on the side, and a bunch of rods on the roof. He barely came to a complete stop before exiting his vehicle. Something about him felt very “Raising Arizona.” A mangy dog ran out the car and the first words Snakeman utters were, “That’s ma’ snake dawg.” Snakeman looked like a pony-tailed mix of Dog the Bounty Hunter and Jimmy Buffet, and had a shirt with a cartoon of a man holding a snake on it. He proceeded towards the neighbor’s bush, and within about 15 seconds, he found the snake and held it up in all its terrifying glory!
Here’s when I started to run inside my house: my biggest fear is maybe not a snake itself, but a human holding a snake who doesn’t understand my fear and wants to walk towards me with it. So naturally, he started walking towards me with it and said, “C’mon, touch it, it won’t hurt cha,” and I was RUNNING into my garage and holding my hand out in a STOP motion. He then turned to my neighbor and said the same thing to him. My neighbor, whose wife just got home from the hospital from snake panic, is like no, please God, no, please don’t make any of us a part of this any more than we have to be. Then Snakeman said to him, “Come take a picture of me and the snake, I wanna get a good one.” Snakeman put the snake around his neck (like I had imagined he would, in my aforementioned fantasy), and my neighbor does as he’s told (survival mechanism) and takes the picture, hands shaking. Snakeman then asked to see the picture to make sure it was a good angle.
Meanwhile, I was watching all of this from the doorstep to my house in the garage and with my jittery finger on the garage door button if Snakeman came any closer. It felt like this person whom was supposed to save us from the snake (and did), was going to quickly turn on me. So then Snakeman says to his dog, “We got us a snake!” and SET THE SNAKE DOWN IN THE STREET AND STOPS HOLDING IT. I yelled, “Dale!” (I was serious) “Pick that thing up, please don’t let it get away!” and he laughs and then walks AWAY from the snake, closer to my garage and was like, “Uh oh, looks like he got in your garage – heh heh heh!” Thank GOD he went back to the snake and picked it up, but then I was sure he was on some meth bender and would come closer to me. So many emotions were going on inside me and my adrenaline was pumping like mad. I think the fact that I was holding my toddler daughter was the only reason he didn’t push it further. Snakeman had a little moral sense left, apparently.
Then, I asked him what he was going to do with the snake and he replies, “Well, I got me a female gopher snake at home and this one’s a male, so I’ll breed um.” Like that’s just a normal, sane thing to do. Oh, you’ll just breed them, naturally. He then makes a joke about how he’ll let the babies loose at the end of our street. I’m not 100% sure that was a joke. From my doorway, inside my garage, I yelled, “Thanks so much, you’re the best,” and hit the garage door button, which I suddenly wished had a panic button that would just drop it like a guillotine because I could see Snakeman contemplating if he should let the snake loose into my garage right before it shut, just to see how I would freak out.
I made it out alive, but now my biggest fear is Snakeman, and the fact that he knows where I live.