How about something more lighthearted today.
Years ago, my daughter brought home a corn snake – it had been a whole-class science project in her senior year of high school. When summer came, someone had to keep the snake. She named it Carmel (corn snakes are predominately orangish brown in color). When summer ended Sarah went off to college – Carmel continued to live in our basement.
I inherited the duty of procuring a mouse per week. Nature is harsh. Snakes are also a little moody in the appetite department. Sometimes a mouse lasted no time at all. Sometimes Carmel and the mouse became room mates for several days. Either way I generally felt a little guilty – especially since the place I got the mice from put the poor little things in a box with a picture of a cartoon mouse jumping up in the air, clicking its mousy heels and proclaiming ‘Yippee, I’ve found a home!’
The feeding I most recall took place when Carmel had just about finished molting. This meant she had pretty much skipped a feeding and was ravenously hungry. It also meant her eyesight was poorer than usual. Still, somehow, she perceived I was coming and began anxiously striking the glass front of her cage in anticipation. The way the cage was set up, I had to lift the sliding glass door with my left hand and make a quick thrusting motion with my right – holding the box, open end facing the cage, to propel the mouse into the feeding grounds. This had always worked very well.
On this occasion however, the mouse seemed to have caught the vibe and clung with tenacity to the still closed end of the box. I thrust the box forward, but no mouse came out. Carmel struck just the same and closed her serrated jaws on the tip of my right pinky. As far as she was concerned, she had caught something alive and meaty and she immediately went to work trying to constrict and swallow it. I was not overly worried about being eaten by the snake. I was more concerned that the mishap had resulted in at least a third of Carmel’s body being extended under the sliding door – still held up by my left hand – and that her efforts to choke me down were pulling more of her elongated form out of the cage by the second. The mouse, recognizing an opportune moment to flee, leapt from the box onto the floor. The basement was rife with places a mouse could go and I could not follow. Both my hands were otherwise occupied. I quickly reached out with my left foot and stepped on the mouse’s tail. Now both my hands and one foot were occupied, the remaining foot pretty much tied up with bearing my weight.
I shouted to my wife that I needed some help. Note: my wife only barely tolerated Carmel’s presence in our home in the first place and is only slightly less anti-mouse than anti-snake. She came down the basement stairs, took one look at the situation, said ‘No way!’ and went back up. After a moment’s stunned silence, I dropped the box, used the other digits of my right hand to pry Carmel off the pinkie, pushed her back into the cage and closed the door. Hands now freed, I got the mouse back in the box. A few moments later, after a little re-engineering, well, my marriage survived. The mouse did not. The above is true in its entirety. I share it because I figure we could all use a laugh right now. I hope you got one.
Pastor and Author Terry Bailey, Senior Minister of Indian Run Christian Church