We let ourselves live within a climate of fear where irrational thinking trumped rational thoughts. Mark Twain stated, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”
My concerns included putting village idiots in charge of the world and running out of toilet paper. I recognized fear for what it was, an evil mechanism to keep me from living a happy life full of dreams and margaritas. Fear didn’t control me. Friday nights found me planning for retirement with a drink in hand.
Fear had a funny way with most people, though. For example, fifty-one percent of the overall population feared snakes. Worldwide, snakes caused a 100,000 deaths. In the U.S., about five people died of snake bite yearly. The most murderous creature on the planet, with several million deaths and hundreds of millions of cases of illness, was the mosquito.
Of the twenty-two species of snake in my state, only three were poisonous. All were protected. If caught killing an endangered species, the consequences were a year in the slammer and a fifty thousand dollar fine.
Irrational fear drove the most gentle of creatures to become snake killers. I’m talking grandmas, women who’d rather risk their last years on earth making license plates than to have a snake in their yard. These same grandmas filled mosquito spas (bird baths) with water. Only because the statutes of limitations has run out, would I name one of these women, Mom.
When I was a kid, I came in from outside and said, “I saw a snake in the driveway.” Mom grabbed her car keys and leaped from the front door into the vehicle in the driveway. Her feet never came in contact with the ground.
The poor garter snake never had a chance. The little creature probably had eaten its eight ounce body weight in bugs every day, including mosquito larvae, and Mom crushed it with 5,800 pounds of Chevy Suburban.
After consultation with two other grandma snake killers, whom I shall call Lois and Lila, the preferred method of extermination was vehicular snake slaughter. Lois explained, “Back over the snake no less than ten times and slide.”
While gardening, Lois found a shed snake skin. Her grandson assured her, “the snake probably moved on.” Lois wasn’t so sure about the snake’s wife and kids. Her head was always down and looking for snakes. This wasn’t wise. Around her country home, she had a better chance of running into a bear. A snake wouldn’t kill you to protect and feed her young, but a bear would.
Lois put a bounty on the snake’s head, fifty dollars to the grandkid who brought in the snake, dead. That’s it, just dead. Before contacting child services, the grandkids were adults and accomplished woodsmen who humored their grandma.
“When a car isn’t handy, anything you can get your hands on will do the job. Be sure though it gives you enough distance from the snake, a long handled shovel, toss a cement block, or an AR-15 will do the deed.” Lila said.
These women weren’t biker grandmas dressed in leather and chaps, but church ladies who dressed in blouses and slacks. Irrational fear turned them into wicked, weapon wielding women with their heads down always looking for snakes.
The choice is yours. You can keep your head down, mired in worry, always looking for snakes. Or you can turn off the television, ignore the talking serpents, and instead, chill in your Garden of Eden.