A few weeks ago, Skater Boy was rummaging through the closet in the boys’ bedroom and came upon some plastic snakes. The snakes aren’t particular real-looking, unless you are, say, over forty years old, with the failing eyesight that comes with such an ancient age. Skater Boy thought it would be funny to scatter the snakes around the house, just to see what reaction he would get.
Everyone else in the house – humans and cats alike – ignore the snakes. But my instinctive reaction is to scream. Every. Single. Time.
I keep finding these snakes everywhere. I’ll step out of bed in the morning, walk blurrily to the bathroom, and jump when I see a snake on the floor of the hall. Or I’ll go down to feed the cats late at night, my vision blurry because I’ve just taken out my contacts, and I’ll almost step on a snake at the bottom of the stairs.
“Why do you scream?” my daughter asked. “You always say you aren’t afraid of snakes.”
No, I’m not afraid when I see a snake in my woodpile or in the cattails or someplace where snakes are SUPPOSED to be. But I don’t expect to find snakes in the freezer or on the windowsill or curled up inside the case that holds my glasses. So it’s startling when I do.
One day, I opened my laptop computer — and found a snake on the keyboard. Of course, I screamed. No matter how many fake snakes are floating around the house, you don’t expect to find one when you sit down to work on your computer.
I walked into the living room to glare at the assortment of teenagers who, oddly enough, seem to enjoy the sound of my screaming when it’s not aimed at them.
“Why would you be scared?” Boy in Black said. “You must have known it wasn’t real.”
Shaggy Hair looked at me patiently, “Why would there be a snake inside your computer?”
Boy in Black shook his head. “It’s not even logical.”
I was tempted to get rid of the plastic snakes, but I can’t resist a challenge. I keep thinking that sooner or later, I’ll get used to the sight of a snake in a desk drawer or on the piano bench or inside my sneakers. Surely, I can condition myself not to scream when I catch sight of that shape. Until then ... well, I tell myself it’s good practice in case I ever star in some kind of horror movie.