Recently my well-meaning sister Krisanda sent me a link to an article that I never should have read. The article was about a snake infestation in a house in southern Idaho. There are about 300 reasons I never should have read this article. Topping the list are: it involves snakes, Idaho is too close for me to feel apathy, I have enough other terrible stuff to lose sleep over, and I'm so behind on my bar study right now that I should be strapped to an uncomfortable chair and have my eyelids removed with nothing but the giant stack of bar prep books strewn about in front of for the next month if I expect to ever catch up (also meth would help).

But I read it. Not initially, but I read it after about a week of letting it take up space in my inbox. The pressure mounted and finally I popped the sucker open and read all of the horrific details until I lay curled up in the fetal position on top of the highest, flattest, clearest surface I could find while humming songs from my childhood that I thought might bring me back to my "happy place" (which is a tropical beach with no animals). And I know what you're saying to your computer right now as though I can hear you: "Oh jeez. I've read that article and they are just garter snakes. Calm the heck down." To you, antagonizer and unsympathetic close-minded electronic heckler, I respond: "I wouldn't care if it was even just one garter snake that was four inches long and died while saving a family of puppies from a fire. Once even that snake is discovered within reach of a person's property, that person should have a Constitutional right (and I don't hand those out often) to prompt the president to declare a national state of emergency and have the whole town evacuated. Also, I hope you're doing well. I'm sure we haven't seen each other for a while (and maybe we've never met). I love what you've done with your hair."

But once the shock of the possibility of the thought of a snake infestation subsided and I began to see color again in the world (several days later), I was left with one lingering concern. During this snake infestation, the man of the house took the initiative to sweep the property and collect the snakes in buckets in order to protect his family, one time going so far as climbing through the crawl space under the house through a man-covered snake den to survey the extent of the problem. While conceding immediately that if ever I'm on any kind of committee that has a say in this, I will absolutely and without reservation support this man going straight to heaven no matter what he does for the rest of his life, I was left wondering if this kind of gall is a prerequisite for manhood. I've always seen men do things of this nature without flinching simply because (and say this next part in a gruff man voice) "it needed doin'!" Case in point, the dead bird massacre of three years ago where Bob scooped a rotting, once-flying beaked animal off the ground while I lay inside with a warm washcloth over my forehead. And I don't mean to assign this special bravery to men alone. In fact one of the biggest "it needed doin'!" people I know happens to be my younger sister Micalyne who I once saw eat a sandwich made out of cookies, bbq sauce, ranch dressing, lemons, lunch meat, mayo, brownies, and a number of other unidentified substances, just to win a game (she also spent about four years changing adult diapers and showering biting geriatrics in the Alzheimer's wing (another straight-to-heaven candidate)).

So the real concern is whether I can never be a man unless I'm at least theoretically willing to do the snake sweep in order to protect my family and property. If this is a requirement for manhood, I, without a doubt, am at least one requirement short of achievement. If I hypothetically had a home, wife, and children (hypothetically, because hypotheticals are all I have) and I became aware that a snake could possibly be somewhere on the property, I would immediately call the house from a long-distance number (because I would have caught the first flight out of town before doing anything else), tell my wife to leave everything but the children and get as far away from the town as possible, and then pay someone to set the entire property on fire. Twice. Then I would send a tractor to dig up the whole property and this would be followed by a duster plane that would cover the land 12 times with anthrax. The property would be re-burned every six-months for the next decade. Once the ten years were up, I would sell the property (from a remote location) to bad people. Note that never during that explanation did I ever say I would have anything to do with weaseling my way around in a crawl space under the house to survey the problem.

My friend told me over the phone the other day (I've been talking about this with a lot of people) that I just need to wait to buy a home until I can afford to pay people to take care of all of the snake-type situations and then I will never have to worry about having to do it myself or feeling like less of a man for letting the problem fester. In this way, he claimed, I could effectively buy my manhood. If this is true, it may be my only way. Any thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

And I'm really not kidding about the cookie sandwich. I even have pictures.

~It Just Gets Stranger