Many have heard the stories of my husband's incredible phobia of reptiles. Snakes of any sort will send him into a race for life. His "fight or flight" instinct immediately turns to flight and he could probably win an Olympic medal were a snake behind him. I have had many hours of complete joy and pleasure from knowledge of this phobia.
It all began on the second date. We stopped at a convenience store and I waited in the truck while he went in. He came back out, opened the door and tossed a rubber snake at me. It looked real enough but I am not really that afraid of snakes. He thought it would be funny and make him appear manly. It actually was entertaining and cute and I took that snake and deposited it into my purse. At this point in the relationship, I did not realize he was deathly afraid of the creatures and that it probably took all his courage to even touch the rubber one as it looked incredibly real.
I completely forgot about the snake having switched purses at some point until after we were married. Our first house was a "shack". It was a 1950's airstream trailer put into the back of a concrete block building. It was home to us and we were quite content. We decorated it, cleaned it up a good bit and enjoyed our time there. This shack was heated by a wood stove. Dave quickly learned to stack enough wood in the house, next to the stove to get us through the night and morning and then to re-do it all again the next evening when he had time. He never once asked me to participate in the stove/heat maintenance. He truly was the man of the house.
One Saturday as I was straightening out the spare room/closet, I found the snake in my old purse. I had completely forgotten about it and chuckled at the memory of his discovery that I was not terrified. Then, I had an idea. I took that snake and carefully placed it under a piece of wood in the pile. It took me a while because I coiled it up to where it would spring when he picked up that piece of wood. I was still unfamiliar with his morbid fear and thought he would find the scare funny and entertaining.
I actually forgot about the creature until later on that evening when he decided to fill up the stove. He took great pride in his responsible manner in keeping us warm and it was quite the back patting ritual when he began. He would tell me how his manly duty was to keep his young wife warm and comfy and he would go about "stoking" the stove and explaining to me - every time - how he was accomplishing the best fire in the universe. This evening was no different.
He cleaned out the ash pan, poked the ashes on down and got the embers burning to the appropriate level. Then he began taking the wood out of the pile to put into the stove. I had still forgotten my evil deed as he made his way through the holding pile. Then it happened, he got to the right spot and that snake popped up and OH BOY - flight - he ran tossing the piece of wood in his hand at the pile as hard as he could and nearly tearing the front door off the hinges as he got outside. This was better than I had imagined! I remembered the snake just as he was screaming from about 100 yards away "we are moving, this house is full of snakes and we are no longer staying - we will have to leave the furniture as I am sure it's infested". Those probably are not his exact words as his exact words are unrepeatable, but it was soooo funny.
Of course, I began laughing. Not only had I gotten him back for his attempt to scare me but I had learned his weakness. This is knowledge I carry with me to this very day. This knowledge gives me a power over him that no other physical threat can. I could send an entire militia to the house after him and, were they to carry ONE SNAKE, he would surrender without struggle. This was just too much power for one little country girl.
He finally calmed down and sort of laughed at the joke trying to re-establish his dominance and realizing that he alone had created this game by the purchase of the rubbery terror. He came back in and lectured me a bit on how I had caused his fire maintenance process to wane and how we may actually get cold as a result and he threw the rubbery villain back at me. Things settled down, I tried to contain my humor and the evening progressed. I put the little guy in a drawer or something and again, forgot about him.
A few weeks later, I came across the snake again. This time, I understood the terror but not the ability to take flight through any situation. I determined to "play" with him once again only assuming he would recognize the snake and laugh after his initial panic. This would be "our game" I thought - me putting the snake in different places, him laughing that I kept it up. I put the snake in the bottom of the tub, coiled and looking up. I was a little annoyed this particular day that he would not get up as I was preparing breakfast. I waited.
His routine was to get up and hit the shower first. I made sure he knew I was making his favorite biscuits and gravy and that he would want to get up soon. I was just too excited to let him rest for long. I also assumed the prize breakfast would make up for the shock in the shower and he would laugh that I once again surpassed his tease.
He got up and immediately headed for the shower - SCORE - it was working! I heard him turn on the water so he could wait the required several minutes for it to warm up. I heard him shaving in the sink and I lurked as much as possible outside the doorway while I was waiting on breakfast to finish. Then I heard him sliding the shower curtain open - but -I heard it sliding shut. It had not worked, he found it and caught onto the trick. As I was giving up on the chuckles of anticipation, I realized the bathroom door was being thrown open and he was emerging with the shower curtain tangled around himself - flight! He made it a few more steps, trying desperately to mouth the word "S N A K E" when the curtain rod caught in the door and snapped him back. Yes, he had not only taken flight, but he had taken the shower curtain, rod and door with him! How could this be? My luck was unbelievable. I laughed so hard, I regretted the damage to the bathroom since I couldn't get in there.
Unfortunately, he didn't find it funny at all. He seldom does find it funny when I master a scare over him which inspires me to improve my plans each time. This particular plan worked profoundly but he beat me to the snake as he was the one who had to repair the damage to our bathroom. He quietly walked into the kitchen, found a pair of scissors and sliced it into little tiny pieces over the garbage can as he glared in an attempt to convince me that spousal abuse is a crime. Still, it was funny to see my naked, dripping husband angrily slicing a toy snake. Oh the memories. Besides, toy snakes are cheap!
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