Snakes. Plumbing. Two not-so-fun words that go worse together. Using a drain snake to unclog the shower drain? Yuck. Rumors of snakes in the sewer? Double yuck. Finding an actual, real snake in your toilet? Dreadfully Yucky.
Veronica Rodriguez and I have similar horror stories. Ok, her snake story involved a 12 foot python; that does qualify her for many more years of therapy. I guess everything is bigger in Texas. But I’m fairly certain we have this in common: Veronica will likely follow in my footsteps and share her snake story for years to come. We can’t help ourselves, we owners of tall, slithery tales about close encounters. They are just too good not to tell.
Mine may be familiar, as it first appeared in the Washington Post five years ago. So skip it if you have Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) or if you’ve already read it/heard it/heard it way too many times. To all the rest, prepare to relish the fact that this happened to me and not you… though watch your backside. For you never know what lies within… THE BOWL.
My Snake in the Toilet Story Laughs at Your Scary Camp Story
It’s a question for the ages: What is one’s moral breaking point? The point where the rule of law is brushed aside, the point where we stomp on the light and cross over to the dark side. Let mine be a cautionary tale, an example of how quickly one can reach that point.
I am, for the most part, a law-abiding individual. I wait at crosswalks. I haven’t gotten a speeding ticket in years. Another key fact: I am not a nature wimp. I have held a tarantula, rescue lady bugs and leave our porch spiders very much alone. An ant farm is sitting on my fireplace mantel at the moment, thanks to my son’s overzealous godmother and a fact sheet that claims these ants need 60 to 70 degree temps. Yes, I even follow the fact sheet.
But still . . . we all have a breaking point. My moment? That would be the snake in my toilet. The toilet I came perilously close to using.
Perhaps I should have been better prepared. There had been a vague snake sighting in our basement about a week earlier. I did a little online research, guessed it was probably a harmless rat snake and dutifully noted that it’s against Maryland law to intentionally kill a snake. My husband was sent downstairs fully prepared to remove any offenders and deliver them to my neighbor’s yard. After an exhaustive two-minute search, no snake was found. There was a general agreement that the sighting was imagined.
Until. Until I went to use the basement bathroom, hereafter known as the “the scary bathroom.” Extensive details are unnecessary. Let’s just say I was poised to use said bathroom when something — some little voice, the spirit of Saint Patrick, perhaps? — told me to check the toilet bowl. And there, curled half in, half out, was a snake. A snake that registered evil intent in its beady eyes. It was me and one writhing, leering snake, somewhere between six inches and three feet (okay, I registered the leer, not the length).
I slammed the lid down and screamed. My 5-year-old came running. “Snake,” I gasped, pointing at the toilet. We carefully opened the lid, at his insistence. And there, still leering, was the snake. A snake that’d been denied its true prey. A snake whose next victim was surely a juicy chicken-nugget-fed boy.
And that, so help me, was my breaking point. My descent into lawlessness. The toilet seat was slammed shut. The adrenaline kicked in. Flush. Squeal. Repeat. Flush. Squeal. Repeat. Until the moment we eased back the lid to see . . . nothing. And believe me, nothing had never looked so good.
So now, I’m left to ponder my action and what it says about me: Nature-hating criminal? Fierce protector of her family? Financial genius who just saved herself a lifetime of therapy resulting from an unmentionable snake bite on an unmentionable area?
This much is true: For the rest of my life, in toilets near and far, lavish and basic, I will always, always check the bowl first. For one never knows what lies within.
(First appeared April 23, 2009 in Washington Post.)