The following is a true story. I swear. It is told with the permission of at least one of the individuals involved.
Our players: Sherry Martin Stewart, Clarendon County native, longtime nurse at Clarendon Memorial Hospital and wife of Clarendon County Council Chairman Dwight Stewart.
The aforementioned Dwight Stewart, who is also a forester by trade (read: outdoorsman, right?).
And lastly, all of Sherry’s friends on Facebook, of which I am among.
On May 21, Sherry had surgery on her sinuses. Poor thing had been suffering from an unrelenting sinus infection for like forever. Apparently, a roto-rootering was the key, though the idea just makes me shiver.
Post-operative instructions included sleeping and staying upright and the wearing of a “nasal bib.” When I asked Sherry what a nasal bib was for, ever the lady, she told me that a nasal bib did what a bib was supposed to do … for the nose. Nose blowing and even sneezing were forbidden.
Sherry and Dwight live in a beautiful old Victorian house just a block from downtown Summerton. Things like what I’m about to tell you should not happen in town.
On May 24, the following Facebook post appears from Sherry:
“OK ... so I am trying to follow doctor’s orders following my sinus surgery. Only had one pain pill this morning. Went to my bathroom about 3:30 and there was a large chicken snake perched on the hinge between the bathroom door and my bedroom. I was NOT having a hallucination. (Wish I had been!) Called Dwight who was playing in the Development Board Golf Tournament. He instructs me to watch the snake until he gets here. Really? Really! I do not like snakes. I am supposed to stay quiet to avoid a nosebleed. I made it back to the den. Now the snake is missing! Dwight has searched our bedroom. We have a 150-year-old fireplace. Dwight thinks the snake has departed through a hole in the fireplace. (I think he is just telling me that!) My medical instructions say for me to sleep sitting up in a chair for a week. That will not be a problem. I will continue to stay in the den, in my chair – snake watching! Dwight says the snake is more afraid of me than I of him. Really? I will keep you posted.”
Being the not-outdoorsy type, I immediately went to find out about this chicken snake interloper.
The chicken snake is a member of the Colubridae family of snakes, according to Wikipedia. “This broad classification of snakes includes about two-thirds of all snake species (oh, great) on earth. With 304 genera and 1,938 species (more greatness), Colubridae is the largest snake family (even more greatness). Colubrid species are found on every continent except Antarctica.” Hello, Antarctica, I would like to talk to a realtor.”
I would like to express my personal opinion of reptiles in general. I don’t like them. Not even a little. I am sure some of the braver, more outdoorsy types would disagree with me, but as far as I am concerned, they could all just disappear. I’m not real fond of amphibians either, though I will save the life of a turtle if I find them stranded in the road.
The mere idea of finding one in my house makes all my inner organs turn upside down. Having one disappear in my house? There are not enough drugs on the planet to calm that anxiety.
I don’t even know what I would do, but I suppose my first call would be to the High Commander, demanding that he “do something!” in a very high, ear-piercing screech. I always count on the H.C. to have a cool head when I am losing mine. He’s good at that.
I’m sure all of you male types are shaking your heads, thinking, “but chicken snakes are harmless.”
For the record, there is no such thing. A non-poisonous snake still has the capability of scaring me (and others who understand mine and Sherry’s position) to death and I don’t call that harmless. Sherry did arm herself with a baseball bat, though I can assure you, I would not be able to get close enough to strike a snake, I don’t care how short or long it was.
On May 25, we got this update: “Have not seen the snake since yesterday. I still have not been in my bedroom or bathroom. I am staying in my chair in the den. (Doctor’s instructions anyway.) I make the trek upstairs to the facilities when needed. Do not know when I will return to my downstairs suite. Still having snake flashbacks!”
Now, if my husband were a forester/outdoorsman, I would certainly expect him to find said snake and produce one snake corpse so that I could securely close my eyes without fearing the slithering demon was going to join me in bed for a cuddle-fest. Dwight maintains that the snake is “more afraid of Sherry than Sherry is of it.”
You know, I have heard that platitude before and I would like to know how Dwight knows just how to measure the level of fright felt by either Sherry or the snake. Is that something they teach at those outdoorsy classes at Clemson?
On May 30, this update: “The surgeon said that I no longer had to keep my head elevated. I do not mind being in the bedroom when Dwight is there to defend me! However, I am always looking over my shoulder and walking carefully when he is not there. I will get used to it! Glenn Quattlebaum said his snake was missing in a room for a month. I just have to get my mind right! Making progress with my recovery.”
Sherry, I do hope you keep recovering and that soon and very soon, you will be able to sleep alone in your room. In the meantime, I think you should demand that Dwight not go out of town and leave you, lest Mr. Snake make a return appearance.
For those of us living “in town,” this tale should remind us that you don’t have to live behind 40 acres of cornfield to be visited by a despised snake. Country living folks might be braver, but if a snake decides to take a siesta on my door hinge, there is going to be a lot of screaming coming from Sunset Drive!
Dwight, don’t tell Sherry, but it might be to your benefit to go find a chicken snake, kill it and present its body for a good Christian burial in your backyard.
Snake fear does not just go away, I promise you!