Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the tub! Dr. Smooth was weeding the flower bed in front of my bathroom window and called me outside to see a rather long snake skin that had been left there. It was obviously a statement from the snake. It was a warning. And it worked.
When we first looked at this house, I walked into the master bedroom and saw this tub.
That did it. Sold. I had to have this house.
You see, I love(d) me a bubble bath. And this tub was perfect for it! It has one side for sitting up reading and another side for reclining back to relax and sink under the scented, warm, silky-soft water. Covered in bubbles, surrounded by candles, reading a good book, calming music—that was a little slice of heaven and relaxation that I treasured.
Until the fateful morning that I woke up and found a snake in the tub.
It was summer, but I was up early for a professional development class. As I turned on the water in the shower stall, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye in the tub. It was a big, fat, slimy, black lizard–a skink actually.
I’m not too freaked out by lizards, unlike my mom who could hang from a chandelier by one pinkie finger until my daddy gets home if there is a lizard in the house. Living in Florida means accepting that lizards are everywhere. They run out in front of you along sidewalks; they crawl all over the plants in the lanai. I don’t really get bothered by them.
Somehow, every so often, we get a lizard or a skink in the tub. And they can’t get out because the walls are high and slippery. So usually Dr. Smooth will come in and catch the poor fellow and let him outside. (I said I didn’t get bothered by them; I didn’t say I wanted to chase one around my tub and pick him up and hold him while he wiggles and squirms ’til I get to the front door.)
So the thought crossed my mind that morning that Dr. Smooth was at his dad’s house; therefore, I would need to either steel myself to rescue the skink (Ewwww) or leave him there all day to suffer (Ewwww). So I walked over and leaned down to look at him as I pondered the undesirable choices.
Suddenly, more movement caught my eye in the dim morning light. A long, skinny head was coming up out of the drain at the bottom of the tub. And he didn’t have any little front legs at all.
I ran over to My Knight and shook him from a deep slumber.
“THERE’S A SNAKE IN THE TUB! THERE’S A SNAKE IN THE TUB! GET UP! HURRY! THERE’S A SNAKE IN THE TUB!”
I put this in all caps because in my head I was S-C-R-E-A-M-I-N-G, but in reality I was just hissing loudly next to My Knight’s sleepy ear. I was worried if the snake heard me, he might pop his head back down the drain. And then we’d have to move to a different house because I wouldn’t know where he was or when he was coming back.
My Knight barely opened one eye and said, “It’s probably a lizard.”
“I know the difference between a lizard and a frickin’ snake! GET UP!”
He rolled out of bed and walked, slow as molasses on a cold morning, stretching and taking his dear, sweet, the-snake-is probably-getting-away time. He yawned and looked over in the tub.
“That’s a snake.”
“YES, I KNOW THAT. I TOLD YOU THAT. DO SOMETHING!”
At that, the snake popped his head back down in the drain, and My Knight reached down and closed the drain.
“There, problem solved,” he said calmly, and WENT. BACK. TO. BED.
Goddess: “The problem is most definitely not solved. How the hell did a snake get in my tub? And what if he comes back?”
My Knight: “The drain’s closed. He can’t come back. He was probably after that lizard.” And he pulled up the covers and closed his eyes, which I wanted to gouge out.
“A SNAKE JUST CAME UP THE DRAIN INTO MY TUB. I WILL NEVER USE THAT TUB AGAIN. HOW DID HE GET THERE? HE’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT, IS HE?” No answer from the bed.
I had always thought this was urban legend. Snakes in the toilet, snakes in the tub, snakes on a plane—oh, wait. That’s a bad Samuel L. Jackson movie. But seriously, how did he get there? And what if there were more? What if they are in my closet? In my clothes? What if I had been sleeping and one had come up through the tub and slithered into my bed?
I took my shower with the shower curtain open, watching the tub drain for any sign of movement. (Just so you know–the stall and tub are two separate places. I wasn’t stupid enough to get in the tub with the snake in the drain.)
I went to class and told any random class attendee who spoke to me or even made eye contact: “I found a snake in my tub this morning. Came up through the drain. Did you know that could happen? I didn’t know that could happen. I thought that was a myth.”
It made for a quite a few interesting conversations throughout the day and for some people avoiding eye contact with me the rest of the day, but I could not stop thinking about the snake.
I wondered where he was and if he would come back if I ever opened the drain (which I was never going to do, of course). I wondered if he had been there before and if he, or his siblings, had ever gone exploring beyond the tub. And I wondered where his mommy was, because he was just a tiny snake, but a bigger snake could easily scale a tub wall. They climb straight up trees!
So at the end of the class, I anxiously returned home expecting to see my bedroom looking like Indiana Jones’s worst nightmare.
Trixie was staying with us at the time and had missed all the excitement that morning as she slept. She freaked out worse than I did when I told her she’d been sleeping in the house all morning with a snake. I had left her to take a shower in the guest bathroom unaware of what could possibly lurk in the drain. (It honestly never occurred to me that he could have gone to another drain. Hell, it didn’t occur to me that he could come up my drain in the first place!)
I was laughing as I told her I was sure he was long gone, but if she heard me scream from the bathroom she would know he was back. Then I walked into my bathroom.
That drain is still closed, people. That little serpent came up through the overflow hole and out into my tub. Picture for just a second a snake coming out of your overflow hole and falling/slithering into your tub. Freaky, ain’t it?
I screamed, I danced, I jumped, I cursed. The snake did too, but in frantic, squiggly motions around my drain. I yelled for Trixie. She stood outside the bedroom door and screamed. She would not even come in the room.
I called Dr. Smooth at his dad’s and asked if anyone could drive him over to catch the snake (Something he loves doing which I don’t understand. He gets it from his daddy.) He was home alone, and although I probably would have let him drive alone at 13 to get this snake for me, he had no keys and no vehicle. I called My Knight. He was working, and stubbornly refused to stop working and drive over an hour home to catch this snake and get him out of the tub. Sheesh.
Now folks, I am an animal lover. Through and through. And I don’t believe in unnecessary killing. But there was a snake in my tub. And you may say he was tiny (like Dr. Smooth did) or you may say he was harmless and not venomous (like My Knight did), but “harmless” and “in my tub” don’t go in the same sentence together.
He’s not harmless if I have a heart attack. He’s not harmless if he gets in my closet and is hanging off my shirts when I go in to get dressed one morning. He’s not harmless if I wake up to see him hanging from the rails that go across the top of my bed.
Sometimes, you just know things about yourself. And I knew in that moment that I was not strong enough to reach over and pick up that little snake and carry his wriggling, slithering, striking-at-me, little body outside to go screaming to his mama. I just couldn’t.
The snake had to die. If I wasn’t strong enough to carry him, I had to be strong enough to kill him. (And I apologize to all animals rights activists for this act, and you are welcome to come to my house and catch snakes in my tub anytime to keep them from being killed.)
I yelled to Trixie to go to the shed outside and bring me a shovel. She flat out refused. Said there might be a snake in there. Well, honey, I know for damned sure there is a snake in here, so I need you to go get me something from out there!Nope. Wouldn’t budge. And I understood. Like I said above, sometimes there’s things you just know about yourself, and Trixie knew she couldn’t go in the shed with snakes on the brain.
So I asked her to come in the room and watch the snake to make sure he didn’t disappear while I went to the shed. (Where I thought he was going, I don’t know, but I wasn’t taking any chances that I would come back in and find him gone. Then we’d have to move. And without packing anything.)
Trixie flat out refused. Couldn’t do it.
So I told her to go to the pantry and find a broom or something. She came back with a freakin’ Swifter, the kind with the swivel head that flops all around on the end of the stick. She threw it through the bedroom door. (I love you, Trixie!)
I grabbed the Swifter and stuck it down in one of My Knight’s work boots and tried to smush the snake. He fought back valiantly. The boot fell off the Swifter and lay on its side in the tub, so the frightened snake crawled into it. (Cue whole new wave of heebie jeebies as I watched him climb into the boot.)
I took the Swifter and poked the boot to turn it over. He fell out in a writhing mess, and I screamed and jumped up and down like an idiot.
Finally, I got the boot on the stick-end of the Swifter and ended the poor snake’s terrifying last moments with a few quick blows.
Knowing that snakes can sometimes play dead almost as well as possums, I poked him a couple of times with the Swifter to make sure he wasn’t going to go all squiggly on me again. He was dead.
I grabbed the camera (and those of you who know me well are not at all surprised that I was taking pictures of this throughout the ordeal) and leaned way over the tub, zooming in to get a good shot. Suddenly with the last spark of life in his reptile bones, he lunged at me mouth wide open.
America’s Funniest Home Videos would have paid record amounts for that scene of me coming back up away from that tub and levitating in mid-air screaming. (I know it’s a tiny snake, but I was zoomed all the way in, and things look much closer in the zoom lens than they are in real life. And larger too.)
So the tub is sealed. I don’t even climb over in there and clean it anymore since that would require running water, opening the drain, and being inside the tub. I told My Knight he might as well fill it with dirt and use it as a planter. Gets plenty of light with all those windows.
But in the last few weeks, I’d been looking at that tub and really wanting a nice, hot, bubble bath. It’s been more than a year since that happened, and I haven’t had any nightmares about snakes in the bed lately, and the heebie-jeebies have pretty much worn off when I think about the snake in the tub.
And just when I thought maybe it was safe to go back in, the mama snake left a message in skin just outside the window. I know it was her. She let me know that she hasn’t forgotten. And I ain’t getting in that tub.
P.S. Shout out to the Verizon guy who asked about the snake skin outside and got way more explanation than he probably wanted. No SWAT yet.