Snakes

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Flack
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Snakes

Post by Flack » Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:54 pm

I can't remember a time when I wasn't terrified of snakes. When I was in grade school I owned a set of Funk & Wagnall's Wildlife Encyclopedias, and the entry on snakes contained pictures that were so colorful and so frightening that I was afraid to even touch the page.

Growing up, my backyard backed up to a big creek. For years, we didn't even have a fence. I could just walk out our patio door, across our backyard, and down into the creek. Some of the kids took their fishing poles down there, although most of us just took bits of bacon and plastic cups and caught crawdads for fun. Around the Fourth of July, the creek was where you set off your M80s and all the other big fireworks that your parents wouldn't let you light.

Two backyards west of ours is where the creek ended, underneath a bridge. A lot of neighborhood kids learned how to smoke under the bridge. Some of the older kids would climb and hang from the metal girders that supported the bridge while the big trucks from the local cement company passed overhead. It was deafening loud when they did. Little bits of concrete would fall every time a truck passed overhead and I was always sure that thing was going to collapse.

One summer day a bunch of us kids were hanging out near the bridge. I was standing on the ground next to someone, who was standing next to David. All the older kids -- David's older brother and his friends -- were sitting above on the edge of the bridge with their legs dangling over the edge. All of a sudden, David's brother jumped off the bridge, diving like a hawk that had found a field mouse. But it wasn't a mouse. He had spied a big snake -- a water moccasin -- just inches away from his brother. His feet had landed hard on the snake, crushing its skull and, at least according to him, saving his brother's life. I couldn't tell if it was a water moccasin or not, but just being that close to a snake was scary enough for me.

One of the other kids, Randy, cut the snake's head off with his pocket knife and sliced it open from end to end. It was the first time I had seen fresh guts and was surprised by the bright colors. Randy was the kid that everyone just kind of accepted would become a serial killer someday. He was the kid who stuck firecrackers inside frogs' mouths and lit them, and the one who would pee on Freeman's electric fence, even when no one dared him to. Someone told me Randy used to take Bibles down to the creek and put cigarettes out on their covers, but in retrospect it's kind of tough to believe he had access to a Bible.

It wouldn't have been so bad if the snakes had stayed down in the creek, but they didn't. Whenever the water got too low, they would come up toward the houses, looking for a drink. And when the water got too high, it would flush them up onto dry land. My dad kept a pellet gun next to the back door with a scope mounted to it that was worth more than the pellet gun. He could pop a rabbit in his tomato patch before it knew what hit it. And when the snakes would come up near the house, he'd pop them too. Sometimes a couple of times, until they stopped slithering.

When I was in high school, my sister got a job at the herbitarium at the local zoo -- the snake house. After working there for a couple of weeks, they let her bring one of the snakes -- a 6' long ball python -- home. She put it in an aquarium and put all these rocks and plants and lights in there because she was a snake expert. Two days later, it escaped. My parents turned the house upside down, and came to the conclusion that it had made it out of the house, probably down to the creek. Three months later, my mom was vacuuming under the couch and the snake came out. It had been balled up down there, all the time, just hanging out. I sometimes have nightmares about finding snakes in my couch.

I thought when I grew up, things would be different. I lived in an apartment briefly and in homes ever since then, but for the past seven years I've lived in a home that backs up to a pond, and suddenly it's the 1980s all over again. When the pond levels fluctuate, here come the snakes. Sometimes they wiggle their way up into my trees, waiting to pounce on whatever or whomever unsuspectingly walks underneath them. I don't have water moccasins or anything like that, just garter snakes. They say garter snakes are harmless, but not if you break your neck running away from one or have a heart attack when one jumps out of the bushes.

The last time Susan went down into our storm shelter, she found a dead snake. It was a baby one, small enough to crawl through the little holes in the metal door designed to let air in. I guess he fell down there, couldn't find his way out, and starved to death. Good. On one occasion, we found one in the house. It was small, no longer than a pencil, but a snake is a snake. And this isn't the 1700s, some point in time when man and beast lived side by side in the wilderness. This was in 2017, and there was a snake between my surge protector and a pair of Nike shoes. We eventually whisked him out the front door with a broom, but while I was doing it, he lunged and struck at the broom. That's why snakes are assholes. Because I'm 6' tall and he's 6" long and not even poisonous and he'll still try and bite you on his way out the door. Asshole.

I say all of that to say this. My uncle, who lives far away from the lights and noise of civilization, came home yesterday and found a rattlesnake in his front yard. Not a tiny little pencil-sized snake but a big-ass, "I'mma kill ya"-sized rattlesnake, hiding behind a propane bottle and waiting for him to walk by. I adore my uncle a lot but I don't visit him too often, for that reason. When I was a kid I almost stepped on a scorpion down at his place, and he told me before I went to bed to check under the covers for snakes. I slept on the couch instead.

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"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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Billy Mays
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Re: Snakes

Post by Billy Mays » Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:42 pm

This man's got you covered:


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Tdarcos
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Re: Snakes

Post by Tdarcos » Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:40 am

People are not normally high-alert scared of things the way you are of snakes, Flack. This kind of fear is typically a learned response. There are some sorts of fears that are normal, large cats and such because they can maul us. And being wary of snakes is reasonable because some are poisonous, even lethally so.

But the kind of crippling fear you have makes me think someone or some event overfrightened you. And you might not remember it or why. I used to be horribly scared of cockroaches. I grew out of it to the point I can even pick them up if necessary. But I know why: my sister contaminated me with her crippling fear of roaches. As a little boy I just absorbed it like everything else.
The lessons of history teach us - if they teach us anything - that no one learns the lessons of history. tdarcos@tdarcos.com

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Jizaboz
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Re: Snakes

Post by Jizaboz » Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:59 am

Man that kid you knew sounds hardcore if he's jumping on water moccasins. Never found a snake in my house but used to get black snakes around my house all the time. Not so much since a cat started living here.

I really thought snakes were awesome as a kid when they were in tanks at a Science Center. Then after you almost step on one.. then another as you are stepping away from the first one.. yeah fuck snakes.

SOMEBODY BETTER GET THESE MOTHERFUCKING SNAKES OFF THIS MOTHERFUCKING BBS

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RealNC
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Re: Snakes

Post by RealNC » Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:13 am

Snakes got nothing on scorpions! You wanna see me transform into a little child that's been told Santa Claus died in a violent car crash, just show me a scorpion...

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Flack
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Re: Snakes

Post by Flack » Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:13 pm

I don't think I've ever seen a scorpion running loose in the wild. My uncle gets them in his house from time to time. When I would spend the night at his house he would always tell me to shake out my shoes before putting them on in case a scorpion crawled up in there. After a couple of visits I ended up sleeping with my shoes on, anyway.

My dad used to have this big glass ball thing with a scorpion inside it. I remember it being the size of my head, although to be fair, my head was smaller when I was six. The glass worked as a magnifying glass and you could get really close and see every little hair on its body. Every time I carried that thing around I would always hold it by the wooden stand, just in case that scorpion was somehow able to smash out through the glass and get me. I was six.

One time I was out with my grandma and we stopped at this roadside stand to get some watermelon or tomatoes or something. On a little stand off to the side, these Hispanic kids with dirt all over their faces were selling trinkets. There were some belt buckles and rabbit's feet and then there were these snake heads. I think they were rattlesnake heads and they had turned them into keychains. Having a real rattlesnake head on a keychain in my pocket is just about the scariest fucking thing I can think of.

My grandma also had these two tiny alligators that had been posed and mounted on this little board in her living room. One was holding an umbrella and the other was on a bicycle. I think she bought them the time she and my grandpa drove to Florida. My grandma was a big fan of roadside crap.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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AArdvark
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Re: Snakes

Post by AArdvark » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:34 pm

Funny , we just had dinner last night with a woman who used to do reptile shows. She's since moved to Florida and does other stuff now. I remember back in the 90's when she and her husband did a show for us (and the neighbors) featuring all sorts of interesting slithers. I got to wear Cleo, the big 16 footer, that could probably eat cats if it wanted to (and probably me!)
She told us of the times that she traveled to Indonesia returning with a duffel bag loaded with Tupperware containers containing snake babies (or whatever you call juvenile snakes) She couldn't do that shit today! Or the times RG&E called them to remove a testy rattler that had holed up in someone's transformer box.

I used to collect snakes when I was a kid. There was this big field behind a factory that was full of old pieces of plywood and the grass snakes lived under them. I had an old hamster cage that I put them in. I must have had a dozen of the biggest ones. My mom made me release them after one got loose in the house.

THE
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AARDVARK

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