Friday, September 18, 2015

Reptiles for Lunch

(post copyright 2015, Dawn Weber)

It was a warm, sunny day. I'd managed to exercise, shower, and even put on pants before noon.

And then I almost had to change them.

You see, I had a visitor for lunch. An uninvited guest. Let's back up a little.

Like I said, it started as a great day off. Some swimming, some yoga, lots of sun, so I decided to keep the healthy vibes going with a salad. I ripped up lettuce, chopped some onions, and reached for a package of tomatoes purchased the previous Sunday from the local grocery store. Opening the lid, I turned on the water and began rinsing the tomatoes under the faucet.

And then I nearly shat meself.

"AHHH!! ICKKKKKK!" I hollered.

"What?!" yelled the Princess, alarmed and thumping down the stairs from her room. "What is wrong with you?"

I turned to my daughter with eyes as wide as saucers. "SNAKE!"

"AHHHH!!" she yelled, stopping in her tracks.

"ICKKKKK!" I replied.

We continued in this manner for a while, our eyes bulging as we regarded the green snake cheerfully slithering around on a dirty plate in the sink. In his typical Hobo fashion, my son had shrugged off his dishwasher-loading chores again, and for this I was thankful: the soiled dishes blocked the snake from sliding down the drain and setting up camp.

The Princess and I took turns peeking into the sink. "What should we do?" I whispered.

"I don't know!" she murmured.

"Why are we whispering?" I asked.

"I don't know!" she hissed.

Together, we crept again to the edge of the counter. I spied a large plastic mug.

"I'll trap him with that cup," I told her. "You open the door, and I'll carry him out on the plate and put him in the woods."

She gulped and nodded. "Alright."

I grasped the mug and raised it over top of the plate, trying not to spook the invader. But he was on to me and began spinning his body in frantic circles.

"AHHHH!" I screamed.

"ICKKKK!" she replied.

Hoping not to splatter snake all over my sink, I closed both eyes and slammed the cup down. Reluctantly and ever so slowly, I opened my eyes and saw that I'd caught him on the blue dish. Whole. Alive.

And kicking.

I grabbed the makeshift trap and sprinted for the doorway. "Open it! Open IT UP!!"

The Princess pulled the handle and stepped aside while I lunged through the door. Together, we ran to the edge of the woods, and I put the plate down.

"When I lift the mug, you take a picture," I said, still whispering for no apparent reason. She pulled out her iPhone and nodded gravely.

Trembling, I approached the cup o' snake as he slithered angrily inside, trying to escape his filthy little jail. "Here we go," I said. "Get your camera ready!"

With one quick motion, I lifted the mug. She had just enough time to click a picture before the menacing snake, all four inches of him, slipped off and into the woods.

"AHHHH!" she yelled.

"ICKKKKK!" I screamed.

I picked up the rest of the tomatoes, lobbing them into the trees, and we gathered the dishes and walked back into the house on wobbly knees. To thoroughly disgust our friends and family, we posted the picture on social media. I also texted the shot to my husband.  "There was a snake in my tomatoes," I wrote, waiting for the inevitable I've got a snake for your tomatoes, baby! reply.

One doesn't often find oneself Googling "pests in produce," but when one does, one can expect hundreds of hits. Apparently, critters are common in fruits and vegetables from stores -- my Facebook and bloggy friend Shelly reported that a man in her Texas town had been bitten by a rattlesnake while reaching into his grocer's fruit bins. A Michigan woman recently found a black widow spider in store-bought grapes. I was lucky that my lunch guest looked to be a harmless baby garter snake. Still. You can never be sure.

As I sat and recovered in the kitchen, I realized that the snake wasn't even my first rescue of the morning. Earlier, I'd pulled two frogs from the pool and put them in our little pond to save them from a slow chlorine death. Not only that, I remembered that I also regularly stop and pluck turtles off of busy roads, respecting their directional wishes by depositing them in whichever ditch they're heading toward. For this, the husband calls me The Patron Saint of Turtles. But clearly, I'd just proven myself the Patron Saint of Reptiles and Amphibians. A promotion.

Maybe so. But still. Come on, man. A SNAKE! In my FOOD!

Too skeeved out to eat anything, I packed away the lettuce and onions, and went into the bedroom to assess the situation in my pants.

Yes, it had started as a good day.

And then I made a salad.


  1. You are a better woman and animal lover than I am. Sorry folks, to me the only good snake is a dead creature.
    Eve's sister

    1. I thought about it, Wanda. But smashing him would be an inappropriate thing for a Patron Saint of Reptiles to do.

  2. LOL. I'd have done the same thing, hollerings of "ACK!" all the way.

    Actually, I'm pretty good with snakes. My father, however, would have leapt northward and clung to the ceiling the rest of the day...


    1. One of the bravest men I've ever met was deathly afraid of snakes. I always found it endearing.

  3. I am laughing so hard. But you are braver than I am. I don't know what I would've done!!!!!! And btw, you and I have the same plates. My former boss' family owned a small grocery store when he was growing up and he said it was very common to find rather large banana spiders in the boxes or bags that were delivered. I. Would. Die. Just curious, did you tell the store where you got the tomatoes?

    1. Banana spiders are huge! Ugh! I think they're harmless, though. Yes, I did tell a manager - and show him the picture - of the snake. He was apologetic, and offered me a new box of tomatoes, but I declines. I will never buy packaged tomatoes again. Pity too, because those particular tomatoes taste fantastic.

  4. You are so much braver than me. We need to find an appropriate superhero costume for you....and a grocery with guaranteed reptile free produce.

  5. "Cup o' snake," LOL! That would have freaked me right out too.

    1. Exactly, Debra. Freaked me right the eff out. The end.

  6. At first I thought it was a deadly Taipan! Then I took a good look. Garter. Sometimes they will pee on you, but it just stinks a bit.

    1. Oh, thanks a lot, Jono! Here I am sure it was a garter, and you say it could be deadly. It's still out there in the woods next door, waiting to kill me. Or insert itself into my salad. ;)

  7. Ack. I. DON'T. DO. SNAKES. WELL.
    You have my admiration. Glad you set it free too.

    1. When I was little, I used to pick up garter snakes all the time. I'm not as much of a fan anymore.

  8. I don't mind little, non-poisonous snakes outside where they belong, but critters shouldn't be in the groceries! You did good :)

    1. I know, right, Jenny? If he had been out there by the woods where he belonged, I would have been all, "Aw! Look at the cute baby snake!" But no. He had to be in my damn food.

  9. A baby, separated from his mom? Tissues please.

    1. Don't worry - he was totally fine and obviously able to care for himself. Happy as a lark, there on my counter all week.

    2. ALL WEEK?? I missed that the first time around ... my spidey senses are tingling ... no, that's just the hair on the back of my neck standing straight up...

  10. Oy - instant diet plan, but still not good. Then again, it's kinda cute from a distance.

    I hope you're well, Dawn.

  11. OMG I wish I could un-read this post... Snake and I just doesn't associate. Would you mind to write your phone number in case there is a snake in my tomatoes? Meanwhile, I'll have only the one in can, those are safe, right?