Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hiss of Death


I think it was FDR who said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." While I'm clearly not qualified to second-guess a man of Mr. Roosevelt's stature and wisdom, I beg to differ. While fear is indeed a powerful force, there are a couple of glaring omissions in that famous statement and if it were up to me, I'd amend it to read, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself--and of course, big hairy spiders and slimy, good-for-nothing snakes.

Low down, good-for-nothing snake.
There. Doesn't that make a lot more sense? 

Up to this point, I've handled spiders in much the same way as most other women do. I leave their demise (the crueler, the quicker, the better) to someone who is larger than me--and immeasurably taller, heavier and wearing bigger spider-thumpin' boots than his victim. As a child, I turned to my father; at home, I leave it to my son-in-law; elsewhere, it's any man who's handy at the moment. I wouldn't care if the President was busy delivering a State of the Union address--if I found a spider anywhere within a three-mile radius and he was the only man in the vicinity, it would be up to him to kill it.  And I mean right then. The sooner, the better. No thinking about it, no emergency Cabinet sessions, no stalling for the appropriate moment, no quibbling over the definition of the word "kill."  Now. 
My preferred method (and the one I always suggest to my hired gun) is to first drown the spider with an entire spray can of toxic chemical, stomp it into an unrecognizable goo, then grind the goo into the ground/floor/cement, and follow up with final flushing down the toilet. If it were up to me, I'd add firepower, flames and explosive devices to the routine, but none of the men I've depended on over the years to do my dirty work would allow it. Wimps.
Snakes, unfortunately, are a different story. You don't often spray a snake to death, stomping them to smithereens is a bit too messy, and flushing them down the toilet is just not an option. In addition, snakes are sneaky, slimy and shiftless. In short, snakes are the enemy.
Well, I have met the enemy--and his name is Sam. He's an extraordinarily ugly little guy and lives in our gardening shed, along with some equally disgusting spiders, I'm sure. As if having the devil's playmate (and his henchmen) living in my back yard weren't bad enough, I have reason to believe the little demon's stalking me. I feel his beady eyes watching me whenever I venture outside the back door. He is, as my Dad would say, nothing but a lowdown, rotten snake-in-the-grass.
I'm not sure what kind of snake Sam is. I've never gotten close enough to look. Frankly, it wouldn't matter to me if he were St. Snake of Assisi--I'd still detest him. For a brief time this spring, I entertained a faint hope that he'd moved to Timbuktu or Siberia--or better yet, just plain died. But, oh no. Not Sam. He just grew longer and fatter and sneakier and slimier over the winter months. He also acquired a family and occasionally, his son (dubbed... what else? "Son of Sam") comes out to sun himself with his creepy dad. I'm sure he's being taught everything Sam, Sr. knows about the fine art of stalking. I shudder to think of it.
I must admit that the snake species hasn't had many good role models over the years. None, in fact. The first and most notorious of those role models brought eternal sin to mankind and our relationship with the serpent kingdom has gone downhill ever since. There are no fairy tales starring adorable snakes, you won't ever find one (thank goodness) tucked into a stocking come Christmas morning, and you seldom see a baby nursery decorated in a spiffy pastel "fang and rattler" theme. Still, a lot of God's creatures grow up with no moral guidance or parental support and you don't find them dangling from tree limbs enticing humans into a life of sin. No, the snake, by nature, is a morally depraved creature and as such, deserves our scorn.
But summer is over and, hopefully, the cold, hard winter will take its toll on Sam and his brood. I guess I'll find out next spring. In the meantime, I can still feel his little devil eyes boring into me as he watches my every move. Recently, I ran across a snakeskin--a grotesque reminder of his nasty intentions. The message was clear. I could almost hear his obscene little hiss: "I'm still here. I'm not going anywhere. I'm still stalking you. And now.... I'm naked."

Deborah Dee Harper (formerly from Michigan, Kentucky, Alaska, Mississippi, back to Alaska, and now Tennessee) still hates snakes and spiders. She's the mother to three, grandmother to six, and lives with her oldest daughter and her husband and their 18-month-old daughter (Molly), three cats, a black lab, a rabbit, and eight hermit crabs. Deborah writes inspirational and humorous Christian fiction for both children and adults. Her children's adventure book, Laramie on the Lam, was recently published and she just signed a three-book contract for an adult Christian fiction series. The first book, Misstep, will be published soon.
She can be reached at or She'd love to hear from you!


................................ Kevin Parsons said...

Well said! However, getting the President, or any member of Congress to kill a spider would require an- ahem- act of Congress. And would probably cost a million dollars, just to kill a spider. But to kill a snake? Conflict of interest!

Deborah Dee Harper said...

Ha, Kevin! You're right on both counts. :-) Thanks for reading!


Patti Shene said...

Even though I'm not that squeamish about spiders or snakes, I loved your post! For me, it's bees, wasps, and other such fly-ee things with the potential to do bodily harm that freak me out.

Deborah Dee Harper said...

Patti.... oh, it's not just spiders and snakes I'm afraid of! I'm with you--bees, wasps, bats, even moths that refuse to let me "cup" them out of the house and force me to smash them against the nearest wall... dumb moths :-) Thanks for reading and commenting!

TNeal said...

Despite my snake-loving ways, I found your article hilarious.

Deborah Dee Harper said...

While I can't think of a single good reason to like snakes (aside from the fact that God created them and He must have had a good reason for doing so and doesn't need my permission), I'm so tickled you enjoyed the blog post! When I see another one of Sam's sons, I'll send him to you :-)