I like to think of myself as a fairly capable woman.
Okay, that’s a lie. I’d give my left lung to have other people think of me as a fairly capable woman.
Uh … okay that needs even further correcting. I’d give my left lung to have other people think of me as a kickass master virtuoso in most all areas, wielding life skills that leave my friends and family open mouthed with astonishment. I’d like people to look at me and say, now if Thomas Jefferson and Hildegard von Bingon had a child,
and that child was tutored by Joan of Arc,
and sung to sleep by her fiercely feminist nanny Beyoncé,
that would be Shelley.
All right, I may have gone beyond the beyond with that one.
Because the reality is far from that equation. No offense to the parental units as they worked their backsides off trying to encourage the mass of reluctant neurological connections I housed within my skull.
They did their best. Working with what they had to make a human being as independently capable as they could before they sawed at the fraying tether between us and cast me off to manage my own life raft.
But they still worry.
And I do not make it easy on them.
Sometimes purposefully, because that, in and of itself, can be fun. I like to push the boundaries a teensy bit to show them just how much their overall disappointment with me should lessen each day. Oftentimes this backfires.
Like when I announce to my dad that I’ve successfully replaced the flapper in a toilet.
He’s thrilled. Then I announce that in doing so I accidentally broke the overflow tube and the fill valve. He’s less thrilled.
Next time I’m editing that last bit out.
Or when I told my mother about how I just spent the last thirty minutes fertilizing all of the gorgeous spring bulbs she spent an entire day planting last fall. She was elated. I did not tell her that there was a 50/50 chance that I “fertilized” all the bulbs with weed killer because I’d recently transferred both liquids into unmarked spray canisters and neglected to label them before putting them away.
Usually, most of their wide-eyed panic comes from my retellings of the Wild Kingdom episodes that regularly occur where I live: all alone, in the woods, up on a mountain, with not a stitch of people to borrow a cup of sugar from anywhere close.
I love it this way.
They are not nearly as delighted.
My latest run in with one of nature’s more hellish horrors (my mother’s words not mine) actually occurred on their property and not mine. So they were both there to witness the depth and breadth of my bravery and level of skill.
They live in a house that occasionally has indoor plumbing. But when functioning, those pipes can be fractious. They require me to regularly crawl under the house in order to beg and cajole (read: bang) those pipes into cooperation (read: submission).
Under a house is not a place most folks like to spend their free time. Sure, it’s got a variety of puzzles that will either entertain or flummox your synaptic connections for a spell. Like miles of wiring, or ducting, or hosing. And myriad dead things that cursed their curiosity that led them to a glue board. But maybe it’s the poor lighting. I never feel the urge to hang out longer than I have to.
Shortly after I announced to my parents my intention to have a “come to Jesus” meeting with the water filter in the crawl space, I decided to rethink my handyman chore list and shouted up into the house, “Hey, Dad? Can you give me a quick list of bullet points on venomous snakes?”
I heard my mother shriek above me.
“How big is it?” he responded.
“Them,” I corrected.
Kill them! (I think we all know who shouted this.)
How big are they?”
“How big is huge?”
“At least 18 inches give or take a foot. Maybe take.”
“So not so huge then?”
“Well, not so huge but in a really big way … And they have a lot of teeth.”
“What type of teeth?”
“The kind orthodontists would marvel at.”
“Did you actually see teeth?”
“No,” I shouted, “But they conveyed teeth.”
“They conveyed teeth? In what way?”
“In the way women do when they are elbow to elbow in a shoe sale.”
Kill them! (Again, not me or my dad.)
I looked around for something to use as weapon. Not because I really wanted to end the life of some sad beasts that happened to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, but because I recognized the same look in these snakes’ eyes as the big black bear I’d recently encountered at home that conveyed the identical message of One of us is going to wish we could back up and start this day all over again with a whole nother path.
I found a shovel. I quickly realized two things. One—shovels are not the most ideal deterrent to use against a pile of snakes. Two—snakes are springy.
Yeah, that whole coiling thing is not just to keep warm like dogs and cats practice. That’s a preparatory pose.
I found an ax.
Now we’re talking. An ax is an immediate confidence boost. An ax shouts, “You have no idea what century I come from and the talents I possess. But go ahead and roll the dice, buddy.”
I’m going to assume we can all deduce the outcome. After all, I’m still here and spinning this yarn.
I am also a newly minted superhero in at least one person’s eyes.
I may not be a proficient plumber, nor a great gardener, or even capable of bullying back a black bear, but as of today I stand proudly before you as … slayer of serpents.
Who no longer require diligent dental detail.
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Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor (NOW FOR HIRE- so do go check out his gallery!)–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.