Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Manliness Scale

Last week as I was hurtling my way back to Texas from New York aboard a giant metal tube at several hundred miles per hour, my wife was face to face with a six foot rattlesnake.

I don't know why these things happen when I am away from the house, but they certainly seem to do so with startling regularity. We've had dogs shot, snakes attack, and water pipes burst on those rare occasions when I vacate the premises. Perhaps I have some secret, unsuspected power over nature, the ability to bend probability to my own advantage so that I'm rarely exposed to such things.

In any event, I was not here to help with the six foot rattlesnake, slithering through our back yard much to the displeasure of our dogs, who were leaping straight up into the air and barking ferociously. That's what alerted Annie to the problem, and it didn't take long after her rush to the yard to hear the dreaded rattling sound. Somehow she managed to call the dogs off without any of them getting bitten, which is pretty amazing. And luckily our farrier (horse hoof guy) Gil was on-site. She asked him if he'd shoot the snake, but in his British accent he brushed aside such vulgarity.

No, Gil's what you call a "Real Man" -- he picked the rattler up with his bare hands, shoved it in a sack, and drove it off for release far away. I wouldn't be surprised to find out he milked it for anti-venom along the way. With his teeth.

Gil had definitely set the gold standard for The Manliness Scale. Gripping a deadly reptile longer than he was is a hard act to follow, but I vowed I'd somehow live up to it. Little did I know I'd get my chance a scant three days later, as I got up close and personal with a black widow spider.

I had gone into the small area where we keep the water softener, and near the back saw a spider web. Drawing closer, I saw the baneful red hourglass leap off the black abdomen of the arachnid lurking there. My mind flashed back to Gil's example, how manly his actions were, and what would be expected of a proper Texas rancher.

So I picked up a shovel and skooshed it.

OK, so when it comes to the handling of poisonous creatures, Gil used his hands on a six footer and I had to use a shovel on something less than half an inch in size. I'm not proud of my reaction. But I didn't scream like a little girl, or at least no one heard me. And I'm pretty sure I didn't soil myself at any point.

All of which, taken into account, at this point means the "Manliness Scale" goes like this:

The dogs
The donkeys
The cat
The sheep

I'm movin' up, baby!


Norm said...

I once found a large spider of some variety in the house. My wife wanted me to squish it but I thought the humanitarian thing to do was to move it outside where it could roam free and live a life of spider-like fulfillment. That was not to be. The spider didn't understand that climbing into a little cup was his ticket to freedom. (I wasn't going to actually TOUCH the spider with my hands.)

In the end we had to put the spider down.

10,000 years from now my seemingly insignificant action will no doubt cause a tsunami on the other side of the world. To the survivors of that future calamity: Uh... sorry. I'm not really a genocidal madman. He wouldn't get into the cup!

Jeff Hebert said...

Very funny, thanks Norm!

Anonymous said...

We saw a huge rattler out on our land. I jumped up, screamed SNAKE and left Rick there to fend for himself. The only good snake is a dead snake. Keep all the humanitarian comments away from me -- when it comes to snakes, I'm terrified. Denise

Anonymous said...

I meant that in a good way. Your friend, Gil, sounds like a great and brave guy. Hell, I saw a rat in our barbecue pit and I scramed like I was being strangled. Scared our dog, scared the neighbors and I realize now when it comes to slithering things (or furry things in the BBQ pit), I will squeal like a girl each and every time!!!