Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Scare - a misspent youth story. Part 2

If you didn't read the first of this story you will want to catch up before you read the following.

As we left off the girls were lazily paddling down the river, heading perilously close to the dreaded snake infested trees.

Oldest girl (OG): “We’re heading for the trees. Paddle harder”

Youngest girl (YG): “No we’re not. Don’t worry.”

OG: “The man at the canoe rental says that there are snakes in the trees. So, damn it paddle harder we’re heading for the trees."

YG: “Oh stop! What are the odds that there will be a snake in those trees?  You’re being a baby.”

OG: “Oh sure, you say that when you’re in the back. Just paddle. No! Not that way!”

The girls run into the trees. The OG feels the slap of the limbs in her face and a plop of something in her lap. Looking down she sees a large stick looking thing lying there. The strange thing about this particular stick is that it had a head and that head was hanging off one side of her lap and it had a tail and that tail was hanging off the other. Both the snake and the girl were stunned. All time stands still while each assesses its position in the great scheme of life. This is not a place that each wanted to find themselves. It just didn’t seem like a GOOD place. For one very very long moment the snake and the girl are motionless. The snake recovers first. It slithers on the girl’s lap. The girl comes to her senses and promptly jumps to her feet. Pandemonium ensues.

OG starts hopping from one foot to another, naked but for a skimpy bikini, in the front of the canoe desperately trying to crush the snake with her bare feet.  (Let’s not contemplate why she felt this was important or if this goal is even obtainable. We’re talking survival here.) While she is performing this futile stomping dance the snake is trying just as desperately to bite the constantly moving feet and legs.  She looks down into the gaping huge fanged cottony mouth of the snake. Realization sets in. This is not a harmless brown snake. This is a cottonmouth snake. She is no less than 100 miles from the nearest hospital. This snake plans to kill her. (In the girl’s mind the fact that the snake is just trying to survive does not enter into this picture at all)

 All the while OG is screaming at the top of her lungs: “THERE’S A SNAKE IN THE BOAT.” Stomp!

Snake lunges to strike.


Snake lunges to strike.

YG: “sit down you’re going to tip the boat over”


Snake lunges to strike.

YG: “there is no snake in the boat so sit your skinny ass down."


Snake lunges to strike.

YG: “If you don’t stop hopping around you’re going to tip us over and there may be snakes in the water”.


Snake lunges to strike.

It is at about this time that OG decides that jumping out of the boat is a fine idea, a very fine idea indeed. Out of the boat she flies. (Why is it that when death is on the line time starts to slow down? Things become clearer? All those things your mother warned you about make sense? You become glad that your apparel is clean? ) This is what happened to OG. Time just decided to stop and it was at just that moment when her toes touched the water the thought that there may actually be more snakes in the water, near the boat, laying in wait, occurred to her.  And, when this time standing still, life becomes clearer, your mother was right realization, clean underwear be-damned moment that she performed a miraculous feat of aerobatics.  OG spun 180 degrees in order to catch the sides of the canoe. Where she started this plunge facing away from the boat she landed into the water facing the boat. Her gymnastics coach would have been proud.  She landed in the water with both hands grabbing the gunwale; smack in the middle of the boat, 

She clung perilously to the side of the boat. She was sputtering, scared and wet but she was no longer screaming. 

YG: “You’re going to tip the boat over. What are you doing in the water? There may be snakes in the water.”

OG: “The water? The water? THERE’S A SNAKE IN THE BOAT!”

Making another lightening decision OG determines that she is better off on dry land somewhere, anywhere and soon. Somewhere she can see the things around her. Somewhere that every little piece of river debris is not a snake imagined. Looking around she notices a rocky island in the middle of the river. Swimming over to it and ignoring YG’s constant; “what are you doing?” questions, OG makes it safely to the island. Picking her way across the rocks she stands, arms crossed, glaring at YG.

OG: “I’m not getting into that boat. There’s a snake in the boat and I’m not getting back into it.” (there may or may not have been some foot stomping at this point.)

YG: “There is no snake in the boat. (I’m not sure why she was so convinced of this. It’s not like she could see the snake from where she was sitting because under each seat of the canoe was a large piece of dense foam. The snake was trapped in the small triangle shaped piece of the very front of the canoe.)

OG: “I don’t care what you say. There is a snake in the boat and I’m not budging from this spot. Rescue crews will have to fly me out of here. The local fire department will have to be called in. Where is the nearest army base because it may just take a whole effing battalion to move me from this spot!”


YG rows the canoe over to the rocky island. OG notices that NOW YG is competent at paddling. Showing rowing competence now does not bode well for YG later. 

YG: “grab the front of the boat and haul it in.”

OG: “NO” She was traumatized and she didn't think that she wanted to become more so...if there was something more than traumatized.  Maybe, scared spitless?

OG has done a considerable amount of yelling by this point in the proceedings but it didn’t seem to affect her voice yet. Later, when the crisis fades she may notice that her and Rod Stewart’s voices sound a lot alike but not now. Now, she can only manage all sound loudly.

YG: “pull in the boat.”

OG: “No. There is a snake in the boat.”

YG; getting out of the boat, wading through the water in order to pull the front of the boat out of the water all the while grumbling under her breath about how there wasn’t any damn snake in the boat and some people just freak out about sticks, sheesh!

Grabbing the front of the boat YG shrieks and leaps back. “THERE’S A SNAKE IN THE BOAT!”

OG; looking and sounding smug, “I told you.”

The girls rack their brains trying to figure out a way to get the snake out of the boat. A large stick is employed by the younger girl. She had tried to get the older one to use the stick but she wasn’t buying it. Touching anything that remotely resembled a snake was not touching her fingers or any other part of her body again! Been there, done that!

After many fruitless attempts by YG to extract the snake from the boat with a stick, a lot of bouncing, shrieking, flailing around, the snake remained in the boat.  The girls were stymied or really YG was stymied. OG was still in a state of shock. She was no help. How would they get this wretched serpent out of the boat?

As the girls stood near the boat but not so near that they were within striking distance and the snake continued to lunge at the stick, the side of the boat, and the Styrofoam under the seat, fellow river travelers floated past. The stares that the girls were generating did not faze them.  A competent looking man (or he looked competent to the girls. They were 18. So anyone over the age of 30 looked competent.) asked: “What is the problem?”

YG: “there’s a snake in the boat.”

Competent man: “Why don’t you tip it over?”

YG: “Wow! What a great idea! OG, help me tip the boat over.”

OG: “Yeah, right. I don’t think so.”

YG: “GAWD” She flips the boat over.  No one actually sees the snake swim out of the boat but a quick (and according to OG a way too quick) look at the bottom of the boat showed that the snake was gone.  YG climbs into the back of the boat. OG just stares at her. 

YG: “push us off”

OG: “HA!”

YG: “come on. He’s gone. Push us off and get in.”

OG: “the front? Yeah, right. I don’t think so”

OG pushes off the boat and gets into the middle. YG was ticked. What the hell? It’s going to be really hard for OG to paddle from the middle of the canoe. After repeat attempts to get OG to move YG gives up. OG spends the rest of the trip with her feet stacked on the gunwales, her paddle in the bottom of the boat, while YG paddles. 2 hours and a lot of bitching by YG because OG stubbornly refuses to paddle will not put her feet on the floor of the boat and has not stopped muttering: a snake. in the boat. a snake. in the damn boat. a snake. in my lap. big fangs., it was a constant litany. The girls finally make it to the beach where they turn in the boat.   

20-something boat return rental guy, looking all flirty: “how was your trip?”

The girls, not buying his flirting come on: “There was a cottonmouth snake in the boat. We got it out. We think.”

20-something duffus: “OMG! Are you serious?”

The girls: “yeah”

20-something idiot: “shit! Now, I can’t rent this one out”

The girls make their way back to their campsite. They don't care that he can't rent that boat out. OG is particularly unconcerned with the re-rental of the boat. It could sink for all she cared. Then again no one really asked whether she cared.  

Later, around the campfire YG regales her parents with the tale. OG remained silent. She was still upset. 

This is why I hate snakes.

Still hate snakes but love all of you,


  1. Oh. My. GAWD.

    Thank you for not making me wait until tomorrow to ask, "You DO realize how damn lucky you were??"

  2. I've never had that close a call with snakes in my life, but your story makes me hate them all the more. *shudder*

  3. I will never canoe in Texas now. *Shudder* I HATE snakes. Of any kind, but expecially the fangy kind. You are, indeed, one lucky girl.

  4. Hi all: I do know how lucky I am. That snake and I were in pretty close quarters for awhile.

  5. I have no problems with little garter snakes. The large fangy type snakes? No fan here. I don't hate them with the hate of a thousand suns--that I reserve for spiders--but still there is no love lost over fangy biting snakes.

  6. Was there REALLY a snake or was it imagined.
    And to be honest if I was the one paddling on my own I would have tipped you into the drink. You were a passive-agressive little madam back in the day.

  7. I was freaking out right along with you! That was so scary!!!

    Why couldn't he rent the boat out again? The snake was gone!

  8. Vince: Yes it was REALLY a snake. A poisonous snake. That was trying to kill me.

  9. Somebody call Samuel L Jackson, this needs to be made into a movie. Then again, I'd rather not see him in a bikini.

  10. You were stomping on a cottonmouth barefoot? *shudders* So glad you lived to tell the story - and scare the bejesus out of us, too! ;)

  11. I'm not particularly afraid of snakes but I don't like them to sneak up on me and I definitely don't want one landing in my lap. Ewwwww