I heard the version of my name where the Y at the end of Gary lasted about five seconds. Unlike the three-second version, which means one of the kids did something wrong or the two-second version, which means we need to talk, the five-second version means something cataclysmic has occurred and requires immediate attention.
We had just returned home from a weekend at the beach. I went into the great room. Berneice went into the bedroom. Big mistake. Berneice came face to face with the most unwelcome of visitors, a snake.
When I reached the bedroom doorway I made eye contact with the beast. At first glance he appeared to be about 10 ft. long…as I caught my breath I realized he was closer to 5 ft. (Later photos would confirm a length of about 18 inches, but that’s not the issue here).
The first thing I did was grab my big cooler and put it over the snake trapping it until I could think this through.
I quickly weighed my options! 1. Sell the house. 2. Call for help. 3. Deal with the beast myself. Option 1 required moving my entertainment system so it was dismissed, option 3 was never a realistic consideration so option 2 it was.
I have always believed one of the top five reasons to have children is to help remove snakes from the house so it was finally going to pay off. We called our geographically closest boy Dustin. Unfortunately he and his wife Ashley were driving back from Jacksonville and they were still 150 miles away. Later he admitted even if he was on the couch it would not have mattered, he didn’t do snakes.
So I called my go to guy and baseball teammate Chip Campbell who lives just around the corner. After promising him beer and food he agreed to come help. Twenty minutes later he showed up at my front door in full catchers gear. Seriously…mask, chest protector, shin guards and a broom. I started to laugh but then I got it, “Good call Chippy”.
Chip and I moved to the bedroom to survey the crisis. Immediately we realized the opaque cooler meant we could not see what the snake was doing. Was he casually enjoying the darkness or testing the perimeters for a weakness? We quickly realized we needed visual confirmation.
A piece of glass covering our wall art seemed right. My plan was to carefully slide it under the cooler and getting the snake to sit on top of the glass. Then flipping the cooler over dropping the snake to the bottom of the cooler and having the ability to see through the new glass top.
As I started to carefully slip the glass under the cooler I asked Chip to get ready to help me flip it over. From behind the bathroom door I heard Chip say, “I didn’t hear that?” Ok, I’m utterly alone. So I start slipping the glass under not realizing the tension I was putting on the cooler and the glass breaks. Now I’ve got broken glass and a snake.
We needed another plan. We needed a see-through box. That way I could just lift the cooler up and Chip could replace it with the new box. We found a hard plastic hatbox and started planning the switch.
Logistics had to be carefully considered. After applying a cold compress to Chip’s forehead we rehearsed the moves. I would pull off the cooler and Chip would replace it with the hatbox. Chip asked why I would be moving away from the snake and he would be moving towards it. I convinced him the snake was after me, not him and that seemed to work. In the distance I could hear Berneice booking a hotel room.
The moment had arrived. The moment our ancestors prepared us for when they were dragging their knuckles around a campfire. All our instincts and senses would be in play. I looked at Chip and he looked back through the catcher’s mask…an unspoken man-to-man communication. It was go time.
What happened next was a blur of hands, feet, brooms and baseball gear. To this day I don’t remember exactly what occurred, I just know the snake was in the hatbox and Chip and I were still alive.
We let the fog clear and looked at each other with glazed eyes and after a brief silence did what men do…jumped up, bumped chests and yelled, “YEAH BABY!”
Killing the snake seemed unnecessarily cruel so we carried the hatbox out far enough away from the house to assure the snake would not come back…just across the state line in Georgia.
As time passes my chosen weapons, a hatbox and a broom, will give way to the more macho parts of the adventure. In a few years the snake will be back to the initial estimate of 10 feet and I’ll be wearing the boots I made from the skin. I’m pretty sure Chip will back me up.