What a weekend. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was finally a weekend I can look back on and say, "No shit, there I was..." which, as we all know, is how every good Army story begins. Only this time, I wasn't in the Army.
This happened right here in the confines of my obviously-unsecured six-foot privacy fence and the glorious, post-kid-safe half-acre it encloses.
I went to sleep Saturday night with my hands gloved in gunshot residue.
Now listen, if you wrangle snakes for a living, this may come as no small feat: just another "day in the life of" kind of tale. If, however, you're a stay-at-home mom and the most exciting thing that has happened in your life as of late is your covert decision to try a new brand of peanut butter ("let's see if anyone notices!"), this is kind of a big deal.
To make a long story short (which I never do and probably will not do even now despite my claim), I went outside with the dogs after dinner, leaving the three kids and the English Bulldog inside with husband-slash-daddy, so I could finish putting the above-ground pool together after spending all day moving it from one side of the yard to the other, for which I'm also famous. It had been a grueling, back-breaking day of hard work (me) and slip n' sliding (kids), and I felt that if I didn't get the pool filling by the time the sun went down, the day would've ended with me not really accomplishing anything. I only had about 20 minutes of work left: lifting the legs of the pool one by one and inserting them thru a rope which circles the bottom of the pool. Easy peasy.
I start on the left, I always do, and I'm working clockwise: lift leg, hold pool frame up with my back, pull rope to outside of leg, lower leg, continue. I've got my head down, and I'm circling the pool. Up, lift, rope, down. Up, lift, rope, down. Up, lift, rope, down. I've got about five more poles to go.
I clear the backside of the pool and I'm coming around the final turn: the home stretch. What was on my mind, you ask, as I walked up onto that coiled rattlesnake? I couldn't tell you. I might've been reminiscing about the ham and tomato sandwich I had for dinner, and how I'd used the perfect amount of mayonnaise. I might've been wondering what I could do to make myself like country music. Maybe I was thinking about Richard, inside feeding the baby his little baby oatmeal. Whatever it had been, it stopped.
The crickets stopped.
All I could hear was the rattle, and I was close. Damn close. Like, "why does this almost sound like it's at my feet" close (which is always measured in millimeters, by the way). When I raised my head, I was staring into the cold, beady eyes of the biggest rattlesnake I've ever seen without paying admission. For one brief second, I remember thinking, "Goddamn, that thing's got a big head," and then panic set in. Sheer, unadulterated panic, flowing like liquid and pounding like waves. I scrambled blindly backward, fast. In my brain, I told my legs to move faster, faster, that thing is going to strike, go faster faster fasterfasterfaster!
I keep two guns in my house: one is a hand-me-down from my Georgia stepdad, an old clunky woodhandled revolver. It shoots .44 or .22, and I've got some hollow point rounds for it, but it's a revolver. I keep it because it makes me feel like a gunslinger: good and manly, in a kind, softspoken way. Like John Wayne. My weapon of choice, however, is my Heckler and Koch USP compact 9mm. Now this is a handgun. I'm not sure how those Germans do it, but this thing makes me feel like "James Bond meets Jason Bourne." Bad ass.
So no shit, there I was, flying around the pool all 5'1" of me, waving my hands and screaming for the dogs as if a hole had just opened up in the ground and all of our numbers were up. Our Best Dog Ever, Lena, is checking out the snake, thankfully from behind, but visions of Bad Bad Things are still creeping into the periphery of my imagination. I'm running so fast in forward, trees are going by in a blur. I'm barefoot. Nike doesn't have SHIT on a mother running to get a gun. That should be an advertising campaign right there. Don't take it: I'm going to patent it.
Richard, dear sweet Richard, hears/sees/senses the commotion, and meets me at the sliding door. I'm all "Get me the gun! Get me the gun!" and he's all thinking I must have to use the bathroom really bad. (More evidence for the old Mars and Venus theory, surely.) I give him the brief rundown, telling him to stay inside with the kids in case the cops show up, because I'm about to blow this rattlesnake straight to H-E-double toothpicks. I'm not sure if that's a felony or anything, but I sure hope not: at the last check, I was barefoot, wearing a sports bra and a pair of boxers with no underwear. (Don't judge: I'm a minimalist because I hate doing laundry.)
A 9-mm doesn't give you much range to work with. Taking a lesson from every badass in every movie ever, I decided my best vantage point for rattlesnake-shooting-cum-don't-shoot-a-hole-in-the-pool was from above, so I climbed the closest tree. With a loaded handgun. My mom would not have been proud.
I lean over my unsuspecting target and line up my shot. BAM! BAM! BAM!
Rinse and repeat.
Okay, I fired off a whole magazine.
I had to be sure.
It sounded like the 4th of July. I kept thinking of a line from the Little Rascals, when Alfalfa is reciting his memorizations: "Cannons to the left of me!" BAM! "Cannons to the right!" BAM! How can you be sure a snake is dead?
I know: you go inside for another magazine, that's how.
When all was said and done, it was indeed dead. I counted the holes in the snake: there were at least 4. I counted the holes in the pool: zero. A good day indeed.
Richard came outside and took some pictures of me with the snake, but only after I'd chopped its head off with a shovel. You know, just to be really really really sure. And that, my friends, was my weekend, in a nutshell.
Now, who wants to try a peanut butter sandwich? Come on, we've got new peanut butter! :-)