Honey Serpent Don’t Care

snake badger

For years I worked as an Office Manager for a local preschool by my house in Oakley, California. One of the most important aspects of my job was marketing. I had designed brochures to hand out door to door to try attracting new students to our school. I was also the one who travelled door to door handing out these brochures. I liked spending the time outside.

One day, I was driving along one of the back roads in my town. It was August, so it was very hot outside. I had just passed through an intersection with new construction all around when I spotted a long snake in the road. I felt sorry for this snake, thinking that it must have gotten flushed from the field where it used to live. If it stayed on the road, it was surely going to get run over. I had seen a few snakes with tire tracks through them already, and I didn’t want this to happen to my newfound snake friend. I pulled the car over pretty close to Mr. Snake and got out of the driver’s side door. The snake was spread out about three feet on the road and about a foot away from me. I had run across this situation before and my instincts had been to stomp my foot on the ground, because as we all know from the Simpson’s “Snake Whacking” episode, that snakes do not have ears. The last time I saved a snake’s life, I still lived in San Ramon and I just did some light stomping behind him as he moved to a safer area. It didn’t occur to me until later that the families’ house that I had led him to might not have appreciated their new pet at all.

Just like with my San Ramon snake friend, I began to stomp my foot behind my new Oakley snake friend and he moved a little. So, I stomped again, cheering him on of course; “Come on Snakey, let’s not get run over.” Stomp, Stomp a couple more times. This is when Mr. Snakey decided that he’d had enough of my shit. He sprung up into a now eight foot coil and stared down into my face, with his tongue slithering in and out, begging me to make a move. I was essentially pinned against the door of my car, frozen with fear. If I moved and tried to open my door, he would surely eat me. After a quick eye sprinting evaluation of my surroundings, I decided to run sideways with my back against my minivan around to the passenger side door and climbed in my car, across the center console, and finally back into my driver’s seat. I promptly rolled down my window and started talking to this “Oakley” snake, otherwise known as “Jerk Face Enemy NUMBER ONE. I said in a very low, angry voice, “Oh yeah, Mr. Snake, well Fuck you then. Asshole! Go ahead and die in the middle of the street you dumbass. See if I care! You sir, can bite me.” (Not really. Ha! Ha!.) And I sped off away from the evil serpent, looking in my rearview window and talking out loud some more so that my Oakley Snake Fucker Enemy knew some more just how much I did not care whether he lived or died.

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Sir Craps-‘Em Runner

There are so many articles about running. A lot of them are full of useful tips about how to run and keep your knees from dropping off, or how to keep your back from seizing up forever. Most of them though, are funny little lists, like; “How to Know if you are Really a Runner.” They have very clever things in them such as, “you own more running shoes than dress shoes,” or “you consider PowerBars a food group.” What I want to know is why no one is talking about the one surefire way that you absolutely, hands down can tell that you have earned the right to call yourself a “runner.” Not the measly red, white and blue sweatband wearing, dolphin shorts sporting, 80’s jogger. I mean a legit, full-fledged RUNNER, and no one talks about it.

They make all kinds of Apps now to track your runs. You no longer have to guess what kind of pace you keep, or how many calories you have burned. Your phone App proves that you can even make it more than a mile without your lungs exploding and your legs buckling underneath you, but how do you know if you are really a runner? Buckle in, because I am finally going to tell you. If you really are a runner, you have taken a shit in the woods. I mean you have stopped dead in your tracks to keep the contents of your colon in tact for three more seconds so you can find even high grass to simultaneously pull down your pants like they are on fire and start spraying everything behind you. If you are cringing right now, it’s because of one of two things; you are a runner and you replaying now when it happened to you, or you aren’t really a runner at all.

It took three years of solid running before it happened to me. Before that fateful day, I had been able to talk any aggressive crap into hanging on just long enough, so I could make home. I had convinced myself that shitting in the woods was not ever going to happen to me. Ever. Peeing is all fine and good, but pooping is quite another thing altogether. Perhaps, that is why I chose to push my luck literally into the gardenia bushes a mile away from my home.

Do you want to know why runners religiously drink coffee? For the caffeine high and that boost to increase your speed, right? Wrong. Coffee plays a vital role in the pre-run excrement evacuation process. Have you ever run in an organized race, or been the hilarious “you are beating all of the people behind you,” sign holder to help cheer on a participant? You now know why you saw five hundred outhouses at the start/finish line, with fifty more along the route. If you don’t, it’s because shitting in the woods sucks, but shitting in the woods while twenty-seven people watch, is much, much worse.

Okay, so we know that shitting in the woods is a sucky part of the sport. Shitting in the woods in front of other people sucks even more, but there is something even worse. Hard to believe, I know. It is…drum roll please, holding it in. Praying to God as you sprint down your street that you make it home. Singing the “don’t shit myself” song as you fumble, frantically for your key to unlock your door, chanting out loud now; “please no, please no!” while dancing erratically on your own doorstep. I will also tell you that the shit somehow knows, too, when you are almost home and it treats the situation as a fierce competition. While this is no fun, this is not even the worst part about holding it in.

So, imagine yourself on a run. It can even be a simple run around your own neighborhood. You are five minutes in and your body reacts to the bouncing up and down with forward propulsion accordingly. You are farting as if your butt is in a deep conversation with Chewbacca himself. Farting is a necessary part of running. Even a jogger knows this. Inevitably, this farting is happening for a reason though, helping last night’s dinner along our giant colon to a smaller one and eventually finding its way out to the light. Somehow, it always seems to be when you are furthest from home that your body shifts gears into mass expulsion mode and you are caught holding your butt together like little Freddy Kelly used to do, while he screamed “Mommy! I have to poody!”. You can succeed at holding it in, BUT in the end this doesn’t mean that you win.

If you run long enough you most likely be the proud owner of a hemorrhoid at one time or another. So, when this does happen, naturally, you freak out, and go on countless websites typing in “I am a runner, why is this happening to me? I drink water out of strangers hoses, and I spray crap in tall grass!” And all of the non-runners on these sites that you are shamelessly begging for help on, are mean to you and tell you that you must not be hydrating enough, and that you should know better. Then one day, while you are running and trying to make it home in time, it finally dawns on you, it’s this entire holding it in that is the problem. Any hemorrhoid research will reveal that hemorrhoids can be caused by excessive pressure down in the nether region. So, when you are half a mile from home singing the “I hope I make it to a toilet” song, your butt is thinking; “you should probably just find a bush.”

Shit.

Congratulations, you are a runner.

“The Bootsie Theory”

Bootsie was a wonderful cat. She wandered up to a group of us at a Halloween party in 1997. Feeling completely ugly and out of place at this particular party, the Bootsie distraction was a godsend. We clung to each other for the rest of the night. She was so cuddly that I thought she must have had a home. I left her there, but told Joe, who owned the house, that if she was still hanging around in a few days, that I would come back and adopt her. Of course, two days later, Joe called and said “if you don’t come pick up this dumb cat, I am going to feed her to my dogs.” Nice, right? So, I drove and picked her up as soon as I got off of work. That is when I found out that Bootsie had not ever ridden in a car before. Twenty minutes into the ride came an odor from the back seat so fierce, that I cut across four lanes of traffic and screeched off the road into a dirt patch before the pungency took my consciousness. I cleaned the shaky, saucer eyed girl as best I could and donated the towel to some nearby bushes.

I had already adopted another cat as a tiny, motherless kitten from the veterinary hospital where I worked in college and named him “Manwaring,” after my favorite baseball player at the time; Kurt Manwaring of the San Francisco Giants. Manwaring was used to being a very spoiled, only cat-child. He actually moved out of my apartment when I brought Bootsie home and lived in an abandoned shed on our lot. After months of power struggles and mauling between the two, they finally decided to accept one another as brother and sister. Manwaring would always be the bully big brother with a giant ego and Bootsie would be the sweet debonair kitty, patiently waiting her turn for human love. In the end the biggest causality was one fatefully placed bed comforter. On my bed. This is where the cats decided to “mark” their territory time and time again.

The next year brought yet another addition to our growing family. However, this addition came in the form of a human baby. in August of 1999, we welcomed my beautiful daughter Gabby into the world. I often wondered while I was pregnant, how the cats would react to having a baby in the house. I thought for sure that Manwaring would fill his knapsack and head for the shed once again. My instincts told me that my sweet, sensitive Bootsie girl would help me raise my daughter and cuddle up to her any chance she got. I was dead wrong. Bootsie did not want anything to do with this demanding nuisance, and to my surprise, Manwaring was all over the baby. If she cried, Manwaring went berserk. Now, I read the same cautionary tales about cats being around the baby as the rest of you expectant moms in the world, and vowed to keep the cats distant, especially while my cherub slept at night. The bassinet was set up in our room for my zombie late night feedings and our door was kept closed. This is where the fun began.

Gabby would wake up every night around 3 a.m. hungry and crying. Rising to function in the middle of the night was not one of my stronger attributes as a new mother, so it would sometimes take me a few minutes to gather my wits about me and pull Gabby into our bed to feed her. While doing so, I could hear Manwaring scratching adamantly at the carpet below our door, trying to get in and rescue our damsel in distress. When this wouldn’t work, Manwaring would go back to the end of the hallway and run at our door and bang into it repeatedly, as hard as he could. Meanwhile, somewhere out in the living room curled up in a ball on the same ottoman every night was loving Bootsie, not disturbing a soul. After a few futile attempts at a rescue, Manwaring’s heroism would turn to frustration. He would then go out to the living room, find Bootsie, and for no good reason whatsoever, kick her ever loving ass all over the apartment. The poor kitty got it almost every night. While I felt badly for Bootsie, my mind would wander into the hilarity of “The Bootsie Theory” situation. The theory is; “if you can’t control the situation as you would like to, find the next closest thing and absolutely smear it.” I imagined that I was Bootsie, curled up on my ottoman for the night, all snuggly, purring softly to myself; when suddenly, I am awakened by the sound of a baby crying, and my new reality. I think to myself “Oh goody, the flipping baby is crying. Gonna get my ass kicked again. My life is F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C.”

Segway to how “The Bootsie Theory” crept it’s way into my life. I am Bootsie!

So, My mom and my immediate family live on the West Coast. My sister, Marci, and her immediate family live on the East Coast. We collectively hate to be so far apart, but that is where our world’s have landed us, so we make the best of it. My sister has less people to fly out to the West Coast, so often times we strong arm her into coming out our direction for a visit. This is all fun, games, food, site seeing bliss until the day before my sister and her family are scheduled to go home. Marci and I always lament our feeling of loneliness and sadness when we have to separate again. My mom however, grew up in a different era. Apparently, her era strongly believes that it is better to rip your arm off and hit the sad, crying person in front of you, instead of wrapping it around them. Also, if feelings are forced into this era’s emotional spectrum, the one that they are allowed to express is anger. My mom knows that Marci won’t be here long enough to want to wreck the precious time they have together. Instead, she turns her frustration toward the daughter who is always there in the living room, quietly nestled on the ottoman.

Think about it. It’s funny.