The Day My Mama Almost Killed Me

This is a true story, and like many harrowing tales, involves a snake. Actually, in this case, several snakes.

When I was a young boy, we lived in Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh is above the Mason-Dixon line, and though my Mom was from Georgia, being raised “up North” I was a Yankee through and through. As such, I learned many Yankee behaviors, one of which was, (incredible as this must seem to folks from warmer climes), a joy in catching wild snakes.

Now understand that this was not as foolhardy as you may believe, since venomous snakes just aren’t very common in western Pennsylvania. Other than an occasional black snake, the only snakes we ever encountered were small, harmless garter snakes. I loved to catch these, and any time I caught one I would bring it home, much to the displeasure of my Mom.

My Mom was from Georgia, remember? As an exiled Southerner, her lessons and experiences with snakes were much different than mine. Venomous snakes are common all over the Southeastern USA, so to her it made perfect sense to LEAVE ANY AND ALL SNAKES ALONE! She hates and fears snakes, and considers anyone who messes with them an utter fool. But her admonitions were ignored because, Yankee that I was, I just knew she didn’t know what she was talking about!

One day in early spring, when there was still a chill in the air, I was playing in the woods near a small creek with my friends. While digging and fussing around in the rocks and banks along the creek, we somehow came upon a nest of hibernating garter snakes. Yipee!! I was in heaven!! I caught two or three, and one of my friends caught another and gave it to me. Securely holding my new “pets”, I ran home as fast as I could.

Once I got home, I faced a big problem: where could I put the snakes? Looking around the garage, I noticed that one of our trash cans was empty. Now suppose you are a young boy. Wouldn’t this be an ideal place to put a squirming ball of snakes? Into the trashcan the snakes went. I put the lid on securely, so they couldn’t climb out, then wandered off to pursue some other good deed.

A few hours or so later my Mom, the person who hates and fears all snakes, went down to the garage, taking some kitchen trash with her. To this day she tells me it was a good thing I wasn’t home when she opened the lid to the empty trashcan, because she was greeted by the heads of three or four snakes, climbing up and looking at her!

My wife is from the Philippines, and is even more afraid of snakes than my Mom. Once when we were walking in a park we came upon a snake laying across our path. Before I could even react she had let out a yelp, jumped into the air and, somehow spinning her body 180 degrees, managed to land facing the other way and run off. When I told her this story her response was that if I ever, ever attempted anything like this in HER house, I had better plan on never returning home!