MILLEDGEVILLE — I have courage but it has definite limits. I’ve pulled a couple of guys out of a car that was about to catch on fire and worked relentlessly to put out a dangerous inferno set by my daddy in our pasture and woods. I could identify numerous feats of heroism by yours truly but it would only seem boastful, especially in light of what I will soon tell you.
Fact is I have an unreasonable fear of snakes. I don’t like live ones, dead ones or pictures of them. When a snake strike is suddenly depicted at the movies I’m the guy you hear hopping out of his seat and squealing. I know you must think me silly. A country boy, outdoorsman and heroic figure like myself afraid of these harmless creatures. Sad but true.
I blame Mama in part for this phobia. I know she’ll read this sooner or later but she would acknowledge that it’s true. Every day of our lives we had to wear “snake boots” if we were going outside — even just to play in the relative safety of the yard. Her rationale went something like this: If you ever run into one of those dastardly, evil serpents just one time you’ll be glad you had them on.
My imagination constantly ran wild thinking about the agony that getting snake bit might cause, but I cannot recall even one close encounter with a snake in my youth. Nonetheless we constantly wore those rubber boots that made our feet sweat mightily and thus that seed of fear was firmly planted in my mind.
In a previous article I described to you a chance encounter I had with a rattlesnake. That chance meeting did nothing but reinforce my fear. I consider rattlers the gold standard of snakedom. Their reputation as malevolent creatures bent on preying upon the innocent is much deserved in my mind, and I am always on the lookout for them while stomping through the woods or running my weed eater. I think I’d probably keel over dead with a heart attack if I stepped on one.