Snakes and I never got along very well. But I suppose if I were slippery, armless, legless, and had an affection for biting people on the ankle, folks probably wouldn’t put me on their instant messaging buddy list either.
A friend of mine has a yellow boa constrictor named Banana. Every time I see Banana I want to peel out. You’d think that Steve, being a full-blown adult, would know better than to pursue a relationship with a creature whose natural instinct is to crush people to death.
My discomfort with snakes may stem from a place long ago and far away.
“Mom,” I said to the person I typically called by that name, “can I go down to Molly’s house?”
Molly was one of the five daughters brought into this world by the local police chief, Victor Yost, and his wife, June. The Yosts were our closest neighbors, a large field separating our rural abode from theirs. Since the Yosts didn’t have any boys living at home, I was forced to strike up a friendship with a, well, you know, someone of that other gender.
“Sure,” Mom said. “Just be home by suppertime.”
As it turned out, I got home a lot sooner.
Trudging blissfully through the field on my way to see Molly, I suddenly spotted a black snake on the path in front of me. Now, to this 10-year-old boy, all snakes were either deadly black mambas or diamondback rattlers.
I turned and dashed for safer ground. “Mom! Dad!” I screamed, sliding to a stop in the kitchen. “I just saw a sn-sn—”
“Stop snuffing,“ Mom scolded. “Here, use this Kleenex.”
“—a sn-snake!” I cried.
Mom’s affection for snakes was approximately the same as mine.
“Martin, come here right now!” she summoned my father in most undiplomatic tones.
At this point I must bring the tale to a quick end, with the black snake experiencing a similar fate. This was before naturalist-types had educated the public about the ecological benefits of allowing snakes to freely slither around one’s property. Naturalist-types are still working with me on that one.
One day my wife dropped a basket of laundry on the landing at the top of the basement stairs. Wild-eyed and pointing, she cried, “There’s a sn-sn—”
“Need a Kleenex?” I asked. Then I spotted the snake that had somehow wandered into our house.
“Get the broom!” Diana cried. Before long we’d whisked the unwelcome guest into a cardboard box.
“We’re taking that snake a long ways from here,” my wife said with determination in her voice. “Haul it out to the car.” She grabbed the car keys and hopped behind the wheel. I began placing the box in the back seat when my wife said, “That snake is not riding inside this car.”
I’m sure the neighbors are still scratching their heads at the sight of me seated cross-legged on the roof of a moving vehicle while steadying a cardboard box on my lap.
So here’s a question: Will there be snakes in heaven? I’m sure my friend Steve hopes so. Maybe you do, too. Of course, I don’t have an answer to that question. All I know is that whatever God has planned will be perfect. Still, if you have a pet snake in heaven and I come over to your mansion for a visit, maybe you can put your scaly buddy in the basement until I leave.