Patching the wall after the second incident…

Long time readers know that in addition to my weekly post on a classic film (don’t worry, the next one will be up this Wednesday as usual) I used to write a Sunday post about whatever was happening in my life.  I patterned these posts after the excellent weekly humorous essays by mother and daughter writing team Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella (who themselves cite Erma Bombeck among their inspirations.)

This June I stopped writing the weekly update without explanation.

I’m ready to tell you why.

I found another snake in my basement.

Savvy readers will take note of the word “another.”  Ten years ago I opened the door to my basement laundry room and found a six foot black snake making himself at home on top of my washing machine.

(And he left a nice long skin hanging from the ceiling that haunts me to this day.)

But that’s a story for another day.

On this day in June, I walked into the basement and saw a long black tail under the open door to the laundry room.

As I often imagine seeing snakes in my basement since the initial incident, I closed my eyes and shook my head to clear it.  When I opened my eyes, the tail was still there, but in a different position, and moving rapidly away from me.

I froze, mind racing with a single impulse:  I wanted to run back into the house, slam the door and pretend I hadn’t seen what I had seen.

Denial can be helpful for emotional problems.  Not so much for snakes in the basement.

I knew that if I didn’t stop him, things would go from bad to worse because he was heading right for the tiny alcove in the back of the basement beneath the stairs.  This area is dark, has low head room, and was packed to the gills with my overflowing pile of panic-bought pandemic supplies.

If he got in there, I would never find him.

He got in there.

He’s not in this picture, but imagine him shimmying across the top of those folded up boxes.

I immediately recruited reinforcements—my Mom and Dad, who hung up and hightailed it over as soon as I said the “S” word.  Then, I grabbed my neighbor, his wife, and their five-year-old son for backup.

My neighbor—as afraid of snakes as I am—came over with a golf club and a pooper scooper. 

He and my Dad tiptoed into the laundry room, searching for the snake with flashlights.  They found him, climbing across folded up cardboard boxes just out of reach.

After several minutes of panic induced strategizing, we decided on a game plan.  Dad and I carefully took the boxes away one by one.  Each time, the snake slithered deeper into the alcove.  But he was cornered, and if we moved all the boxes, he would have nowhere to hide and we could either sweep him out or pick him up.

And by “we” I meant my Dad.  Obviously.

We moved the boxes one by one, an inch at a time, trying not to scare him into further retreat.  This process took ten minutes but felt like an hour.  When we were down to nearly the last box, I knew that whatever happened, this would be over soon.

But that sneaky little snake had a wildcard up his sleeve.

Just when we were about to go in and get him, he found the tiniest of holes near the baseboard and disappeared into my basement wall.

This is when I lost it.

We waited, but he was no dummy—he wasn’t coming out.

While my Dad stayed behind to stand guard, I went to Lowes and bought snake traps, which we set up right outside the hole.

And I went to bed (not to sleep but to toss and turn) with that snake down in my basement wall.

After day two, it was clear he wasn’t coming out.  We were going to have to go in.

We blocked every exit, and my Dad cut a hole in the wall and we tore away insulation. 

No sign of the snake.

My neighbor’s son had the time of his life snake hunting.

The rest of us were exhausted.

I couldn’t write about it when it happened, and for awhile I couldn’t write about anything else.  I had to know how the story ended.  My laundry piled up, unwashed.  I was waiting.  The blog stalled.  I needed closure.

But like so much in life, I didn’t get closure.  Instead I got the passing of time, which heals more slowly and completely than anything else.

Because once you’ve torn a wall apart trying to solve your problem and coming up empty, you’ve got to find a way to move on.

I started throwing the laundry into the washing machine and then running back upstairs.  Then I began to linger longer and longer.

I still look for him, but I no longer do a ten-minute search with a spotlight before entering the laundry room.

To this day, I haven’t seen any sign of that snake.

But now I can talk about it.  I can laugh about it.  I can write about it.

The hiatus snake-atus is over.

In 2022, we ride again on Sundays.  I hope you’ll be here with me.

Unless I see another snake.

In that case, I’ll be hiding under my bed for good.