Unless you’re a big fan of Celtic music or belts, there's pretty much nothing good about coming home to discover a large snake exploring your front porch. And yet there it was, one of nature’s cruelest mistakes, lazily drifting around my front door last week, either hanging out and enjoying the afternoon sun or trying pretty unsuccessfully to ring the doorbell.
Unless you’re a big fan of Celtic music or belts, there's pretty much nothing good about coming home to discover a large snake exploring your front porch.
And yet there it was, one of nature’s cruelest mistakes, lazily drifting around my front door last week, either hanging out and enjoying the afternoon sun or trying pretty unsuccessfully to ring the doorbell.
Needless to say, having fostered for years a lifelong opposition to hideous slithering things, I was pretty wary of this discovery, and by “wary” I mean “I uncorked the sort of noise you might expect from a pregnant rhinoceros choking on a ham hock inside a metal barrel and then I hurled several bags of groceries well into the air; my deepest apologies to whoever’s lawn the milk landed in.”
That may seem like an overreaction, but in my defense, there was a LARGE SNAKE ON MY PORCH, and it was moving, which meant it was not dead, which is the state in which I generally prefer my snakes (I also like them "comatose," "drunk and paralyzed,” and occasionally “on a plane”). Moreover, the crazed, bloodthirsty monster was nearly 3 feet long (3 feet of CRAZED BLOODTHIRSTYNESS), surprisingly ugly and caramel-brown, which meant it probably wasn't poisonous and I didn't have to dispense of it. This was good, as my leading idea involved getting right back in the car and driving in circles around my 12-square-foot porch for six hours until I could be reasonably sure the snake had either fled or was made satisfyingly flattened.
Were I a smarter person, I'd have very much suspected this would happen. I live more or less in a forest, and for about the first month after buying the house, literally every local professional-type — the air conditioning guy, the cable guy, the exotic petting-zoo-installation guy — who came by to gouge us for some home-related service would inevitably leave by looking around and announcing, "Bet you get a lot of snakes around here." And then he'd gallop himself right back into his truck and drive away to whatever glorious snake-free kingdom he came from, leaving me to return to what is apparently a house built on some sort of SNAKE-BASED COMMUNITY CENTER OR SOMETHING.
I even had some personal precedent: Last year I broke my three-year streak of jogging around the Lowcountry without encountering a giant snake. Now this one also wasn’t an anaconda or anything, but he was enough to make me say, and I’m quoting here, “Whorpph!” and spot-freeze abruptly enough that my iPod actually continued on for about 20 more steps before it realized I was well behind it, sobbing.
In a situation like that, of course, there’s only one thing you can really do: remain absolutely motionless until the problem accidentally solves itself. Which it did when the snake, ostensibly tired of watching me stare at it in immobilized horror, went back to the woods to tell his snake friends about the easily frightened skinny idiots who’ve moved into their neighborhoods. With any luck, he might have even come across a free gallon of milk.
Jeff Vrabel hopes his son doesn't grow up to be a herpetologist. He can be reached at http://jeffvrabel.com and followed at http://twitter.com/jeffvrabel.