Sometime in the 1970s: My two brothers collected a gallon milk jug of garter snakes, dumped them on the driveway and called me outside. Screams ensued.
Sometime in the 1980s: While hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail with one of my brothers I saw a giant snake (anaconda) on the path and jumped — 50-pound backpack and all — onto said brother. Screams ensued.
Sometime in the 1990s: While bicycling with a friend in Illinois a snake (pit viper) slithered across the bike path and I fell off my bike right next to it. Screams ensued.
Sometime in the 2000s: As I reached for a clump of weeds a large, black snake (cobra) shot out from under my hand. Screams ensued. I raced inside, tripped over the floor-lip of the garage and broke my foot. More screams.
Sometime this past month: Home from school because she was sick, my daughter screamed from her room. I raced up, met her on the steps and raced back down when she said, “There is a snake in my bedroom!”
She had been lying down reading, and generally feeling miserable, when she spotted a snake stuck to a sticky trap in the corner.
Why do we have sticky traps in our kids’ rooms? We don’t, only hers because her room over the garage is a good critter entry gate. Gary, the man we call “The Bug Master,” comes quarterly to make sure we share our house with as few insects as possible and leaves a couple of sticky traps for bug inventory. Call me kooky, but I, for one, would rather see a Brown Recluse in a sticky trap than on my leg. One of those traps caught the snake.
From my top of the dining table safe-zone I ordered Bekah to go take a picture of it.
“Why me?” she implored.
“Because I’m older. And farther away from it. And you saw it already so it won’t be as gross…” I was throwing out arguments and ended with the classic, “…because I’m the mom and I said so!”
Success! When I looked at the photo, a curdle of fresh disgust waved through my stomach and knees. Just seeing a photo of a snake is enough to trigger my phobia. When my Facebook friends post photos of snakes I’ll hide the post.
I want to see my friends’ puppies, babies, and lunches, not be startled by a snake. Right then I needed those people to calm me down — sick and repulsed Bekah wasn’t doing the trick.
Facebook post with picture of snake ensued.
Sticky trap from Bekah’s room.
Sticky trap from Bekah’s room on the second floor.
House for sale.
My people did help. The majority agreed that this was a relocatable offense, some identified it as a garter snake (that’s in the rattlesnake family, right?) but a couple were different: they both recognized and acknowledged my irrational fear without judgment; they both offered science-based information about snake behavior in a kind and understanding way. They both talked me down, but one began with, “What a horrible way to die.”
My first though was, “I know, right? My heart almost did stop!” but that’s not what she meant. She was talking about it from the snake’s perspective. He was more terrified than we were and then he was paralyzed in the trap. Her comment forced me to research glue traps, and she’s more than right, it is a horrible way to die.
Sometimes life startles me in a very uncomfortable way, but knowing that others understand even when they can’t relate to my fear is a powerfully comforting experience; being guided to see that situation from a different perspective is an unexpected surprise in the best possible way.
Life realization ensued.