This piece was originally written on August 12, 2015.
I had one of the most terrifying experiences of my life last night.
Usually, when I get home from work, Comet (my cat) is full of excitement. He meows uncontrollably until I open the door, then he purrs and rubs up against my legs, and then lies down on his back so I can rub his belly and snuggle for a while. He follows me from room to room all evening and, if for some reason he wanders, I just call his name and he comes bolting to wherever I am. He and I are pretty tight.
But last night he wasn't there. I called for him and got no response. I went down into the basement and called again, and soon heard his cries coming from underneath an old dust-collecting weight bench. He just stared at me, meowing, but wouldn't come to me.
I crouched to see what was wrong, and found that he had cornered a snake under the bench and was guarding it, calling for me, not really knowing what to do next.
Now, you should know that I have a very stark, inexplicable fear of snakes. I can't even look at a picture of a snake without my heart racing and my breath shortening. They're at the very top of my phobia list, followed closely by chain saws, aggressive bees, drowning, haunted houses, and most lizards.
So, naturally, my first reaction was to scream--no, shriek. The grown man that I am suddenly turned into a little child throwing a tantrum. I screamed, jumped up and down, whimpered, and even yelled for my mom (who was, of course, miles away at her own house). I spun my wheels in panic so much that Comet started to forget about the snake and looked at me with his head tilted, curiously.
Now, I should also explain that this was a little itty-bitty snake. It was probably 12 inches long, perhaps a young garter snake. I don't know. I didn't look closely; I couldn't look closely. But small snakes actually petrify me more than big snakes. They can sneak into your room, under your sheets, or pop out of the toilet without warning. They're terrifying!
After a few deep breaths, I tried to figure out how to get that scary serpent out of my house.
I found an old bucket and then got a snow shovel out of the garage. Then I scooted the snake to the middle of the floor with the shovel, scooped it up, and dropped it in the bucket.
But I missed.
The snake fell half in and half out, and quickly slithered back onto the floor and made a beeline toward the washer and dryer. But I headed it off at the pass! Scooped up again, my second attempt at bucket snake dropping was a success and then the lid quickly snapped on.
Now what? What do I do with this thing!?
I have a couple of creeks in my back yard. So I ran, bucket held out as far away from my body as possible, squealing a little under my breath, stopped on the first creek bank and opened the bucket lid. Then I reared back and launched the snake as far as I could. It landed on a little island in the creek and slithered away.
I went back inside, thanked Comet profusely for saving us from a snake invasion, and then took one of the longest showers of my life.
Comet's demeanor as we went to bed was one of a proud, homestead-protecting, hero guard cat. It was adorable. He got lots of treats and a little kitty massage.
For most people, this experience would be no big deal at all. In fact, it could possibly be quite routine. But I'm not most people. I'm sure there are a lot of things that you couldn't handle that I'd be totally okay with. Phobias are funny like that.
If you ever have a snake in your house, please don't call me. But if you do, I'll send Comet over, along with a bucket and a snow shovel. Then you're on your own.
#PrinceComet #Phobias #CatsRule #AskUncleMarty