I have since been informed I am absolutely mistaken about this, but earlier this week I could have sworn I heard words that would have curled a preacher’s toes blasting out of our chicken coop. The next thing to come blasting out of the coop was my wife, Marianne. If there is a Guiness record for fastest person to exit a poultry structure, Marianne crushed it that day.
“There’s a giant snake in the coop!” she shouted to me. A few seconds of silence passed as she stared at me expectantly.
“That’s too bad,” I finally told her. “I liked those chickens.”
She made a face. It was not a pleasant face.
“We’ve got to get it out of there!” she said.
Of course, in wife-speak, by ‘we’ she meant ‘you’ as in ‘me.’ As in squeeze my six-foot three frame into the cramped confines of a chicken coop and do close quarter combat with a snake that she just described as ‘giant.’
We stared at each other some more.
“Define ‘giant,'” I said, trying to remain the voice of reason. Cowardly reason, but reason.
“It’s as big around as my arm and it’s eight feet if it’s an inch!” She told me this, as if this information was in any way helping her cause.
Her eyes were pleading with me. I reminded myself that she was the woman I loved; the mother of my children. She asked so little of me and gave so much. And now her eyes were pleading with me.
“I especially liked the big, grey one,” I said. “She was a really nice chicken and a great layer.”
“It will kill all the chickens! We’ve got to get it out of there!”
There was the ‘we’ nonsense again.
After decades of matrimony, I knew when I was beat. Forget that every day in America millions of chickens are killed in the poultry industry. Forget that one of Marianne’s favorite places to eat is Chic-Fil-A. Forget how many chickens she has personally deep fried or baked. Forget that she married a man who would rather tap dance naked through a killer bee attack than face and giant snake in a small space. Nothing doing, but I was going to have to man up (a sniveling, craven of a man, but a man) and evict that snake.
First thing, I went to our shed and pulled a golf putter from my dad’s old golf bag. I didn’t plan to smack the snake with it. I was hoping to use the putter end of the club as a snake hook kind of like the ones I’ve seen snake catchers use on T.V. My plan was to hook the thing and drag it out of the coop.
I prayed she had exaggerated the size of the critter, but she hadn’t. I’ve seen plenty of snakes around the place in the better-than-six-foot category. This one passed the seven-foot mark many a birthday ago. It was hanging from an eve of the coop with its head resting on a sleeping chicken’s foot. Honest. In fact, all the chickens were asleep, peaceful as could be. The snake might have been asleep too, because it didn’t move a muscle when I came in.
Chickens that are so stupid they don’t notice a gigantic snake resting on their feet or sleeping next to them deserve what they get in my book. We’d be doing the poultry gene pool a favor if we let Nature take its course, but the wife was standing outside looking worried. I’d like to think she was worried about me.
I hooked the snake. Just like that, it jerked its head off the chicken’s foot. I yelled words and phrases that made Marianne’s outburst earlier sound like a church hymn. Thank heavens chickens don’t speak English. I may have traumatized a few of them for life.
Rather than attack me, the snake pulled itself back into rafters. I hooked him again and gave him a hard yank. Down he came. He landed at my feet with a whump! I tried to put as much chicken coop real estate between me and the snake as I could but there wasn’t much room to back away. The snake quickly got his bearings, curled up and raised his head into striking position. I pressed by back into the coop wall and let loose with another string of curses. Marianne tried to assist by cutting loose with a few words and phrases herself, but being only a student curser compared to me, her contributions didn’t help much at all.
I expected the snake to strike, but it didn’t. Instead, it ignored me completely and meandered with calm deliberation out the door. If it was in any hurry, it sure didn’t show any signs of it.
When I finally existed the coop Marianne thanked me, then said the strangest thing: “Just remember,” she said. “That snake was as scared of you as you were of it.”
“If that was true,” I told her. “How come only one of us screamed like a girl and peed all over himself?”