From The Publisher

May 14, 2018 Edition

This issue we have a couple articles on local snakes, what to expect, and what to do about any chance encounters. Que my experiences, I’ve had many, including a serious bite. Let’s see, we shall take them in order of occurrence.

I grew up in Oregon where we had a lot of garter snakes. Small, less than a foot long, and harmless. But I never liked them. They were lower on my list of likes than the slugs I had to go out and pour salt on  every summer evening, because the damn garters would dart around, not just lie there like, well, slugs.

One day my mom, well aware of my aversion to the little bastards, picked one up and threw it at me. Ha ha. I remember to this day where on me it landed and probably scarred my mental balance for life. It certainly did not do my already pretty shaky relationship with my mother any good.

Fast forward many years to when we were living in Costa Rica, the Land of Snakes. We lived out in the country, along the Pacific coast, deep in the jungle, near the little settlement of Nosaro. Local lore had plenty of advice centered around encounters with these guys. Advise like don’t poke or fend them off with a stick because they will just slither up the stick and bite you in the face. I have no idea if this is true, but obviously it made an impression on me.

One day I’m in the garage doing the laundry and I hear this creaking noise above me. Dick isn’t home, so who could be upstairs? I glance up. Holy sheet! Balanced maybe not so well on the rafters above me is the biggest damn snake I ever saw. Big. White. Fat. Long. All in one glance.

I ran out of the garage and stood at the end of the driveway and waited for Dick to return home to deal with this like men do. Ha! He declared he wasn’t going in there, maybe ever again. So we uneasily went upstairs and spent a very fitful night after deciding we would wait for our housekeeper to arrive the next morning to tell us what to do. But when I described it to her, she ran out of the house and wouldn’t come back.

Next, we enlisted the aid of our neighbor who was a bit daffy for the creatures. He pulled out a big book with colored mug shots of snakes and asked me to point to the likely suspect. Very unhelpful. Helpfully, he did go into the garage and tell us the coast was clear. Never liked that garage again.

My next encounter was while playing golf near Palm Springs. Although we’re told they abound on the local golf courses, I only saw one once. Still,  we know better than to hunt for lost balls in the tall grass at the edge. One day this rattle-rattle guy was right there on the cart path in our way. My friend, ever the helpful alpha male, pulled out the closest golf club and threw it at him so he would move out of our way. Of course the club was mine. And of course the snake didn’t budge. And of course my alpha male wasn’t about to get close enough to pick up my club. We waited there a very long time.

But here’s my worst snake story:

Last summer we went to Nashville Tennessee for the Country Music Awards. It’s a week of shit kicker music which I’m good with for about two days. Five days in, I wanted to go kayaking on the famous Cumberland river. Jake, ever the fanboy,  wanted to see more concerts so I took the rental car and went kayaking with a group I found online.

Finished kayaking and walked towards the parking lot through grass about six inches deep. Felt a sting or a bite. Reached the parking lot and sat on a bench and took off my sandal and saw a little bite mark. Well, didn’t look so bad, didn’t feel so good, so I pushed on to the car, got in it and drove off. Minutes later I felt more itchy than I ever felt in my life. Then I felt very, very strange. I kind of recognized it as shock, like when I got thrown about a block when I got clobbered by a speeding car. Same out of body experience here. I barely got off the freeway and pulled into a gas station before I went into convulsions. I got out of the car and fell down, lost consciousness and had a seizure while I was out.

Waking up I don’t know how much later, still on the parking lot ground, I motioned to a man filling up his truck for help. He looked the other way.

Then a woman walked by near me. I asked her for help. She said she was in a hurry to get somewhere and couldn’t stop to help.

Another woman walked by. I held up my phone and asked her to dial 911, (I had tried, and I couldn’t). She said, “Ewe, your phone’s all bloody” and kept walking. Are you feeling the love for Nashville yet?

Finally I regained enough sense to call 911 myself but could not tell them where I was. The 911 lady got me to describe a Phillips 66 station and a Motel 6. (Turns out it’s a myth they can track me by my phone. That’s only on Law & Order, or at least not in Nashville Tenneesee).

The ambulance guys were fabulous, except for the one that said he couldn’t get a pulse on me. That was hurtful and alarming and entirely unnecessary. The guy behind me, who I couldn’t see, had me hooked up to a pulse finder and said he could see one. But that was after I announced, “Hey, I’m right here, still not dead, and I can hear you, watch what you’re saying in front of the possibly dying!

They got me to the hospital, siren and everything, and pumped stuff into me for the next nine hours. They also took X-rays or MRIs or something to see if I had popped open a blood vessel in my brain when I did my faceplant on the pavement. They stitched up my face, set my broken nose, and sort of cleaned me up, and everyone in the emergency room told water moccasin stories. It seemed everyone had one, each creepier and scarier than the last. And not mentioned on the website where I signed up for this trip.

After my insurance company agreed to pay them $39,000 they tossed me out the hospital emergency door with a pat on the fanny and an explanation that I was in some suburb of Nashville Tennessee. Thank God for Uber. I Ubered downtown to Jake, he and I Ubered to the rental car, then we went to the pharmacy to fill the five prescriptions I had been given. Finally Jake drove us back to the hotel where I spent several hours bent over the sink while he worked the dried blood out of my hair. My face was really a mess, but I’ve had enough road rash in my life to know it doesn’t scar, so I wasn’t worried about anything as petty as my appearance, and felt pretty good to be alive.

And those are my snake stories. I hope you liked them.