Hi guys! Where have I been
all your life for the past entire week? RIGHT HERE! But I was in the throes of our ANNUAL VACATION ODYSSEY, which means being busy with the usual assortment of Doritos, tooth fairy failures, and snakes.
SNAKES. Before we even left the house. The night before our departure, Buddy the Wonder Dog woke me up to go pee or eat cat poop or stare at me adoringly. I opened the bedroom door to let him out, but he wouldn’t go. He just kept looking quizzically at the floor. You know how a dog looks quizzically at something? It’s adorable. He sort of cocked his head one way then the other, with his brown ears at alert and his tail wagging, acting all totally happy even though it was two o’clock in the FUCKING morning. I looked down to see why he wouldn’t move, and saw an actual snake in our house, sitting in the tracks of the sliding glass door.
“Honey,” I urgently whispered to Hot Firefighter Husband, “you need to wake up because there’s a snake in the house.”
Here’s something interesting. Hot Firefighter Husband responds to night emergencies as a way of life when he’s on duty. He can go from a dead sleep to inserting an IV in, like, minus 10 seconds. But at home? Not so much. If he’s asleep, he needs to time to start his brain, switch his eardrums into the ON position, roll over several times, groan, stretch, and then ask me 40 times what’s going on. While he did all this, I just patiently watched the actual snake that was in our house.
It was about two feet long, and very colorfully striped, so I assumed it was poisonous and ready to kill me. “It’s a pygmy rattlesnake,” I announced. “It’s a copperhead. A water moccasin. It’s not good.” Then I half-remembered that old coral snake adage: black touches yellow, he’s a nice fellow/black touches red, then you’re dead. That might not be it. “Coral snake!” I decided. I took a picture. Husband and Buddy and I stared at it thoughtfully for a minute before Husband slowly reached out and opened the sliding glass door, hoping to encourage a polite exodus. “NO!” I hissed. (Get it? Hissed?) “You have to kill it!”
My point was moot, though, because the process of opening the sliding glass door smushed its head. So we re-smushed it a couple of times, then put it outside to die. I did some quick Google research using the photo I took, and discovered we had a killed a scarlet king snake. You know, one of the good ones. And I felt bad about that. But Holy Serpent, it was in my house! What if it had slithered into my bed? Wait. Scratch that. INAPPRO-PRO THOUGHTS. Anyway, I just can’t have snakes in my house. You understand. If you are a herpetologist, I’m so sorry.
We spent a week visiting family in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, which has a Main Street full of
junk stores quaint eclectic historic shops, one of which had a doll hospital. How awesome is that? The ER doctor sewed up Teddy’s armpits in about five minutes. But the Diva’s longtime doll Cordurory (spelling is accurate) took three entire days.
My father-in-law gave Cordurory to the Diva when she was two years old. The doll’s features are Asian – she has shiny black hair, almond eyes, and a cupid kiss of a mouth, but still it took my daughter a few months to warm up to her. But then – boom. Cordurory became her everything. In the ensuing years, she used money she saved herself to buy two identical dolls so Cordurory would have sisters – Bunny and Bella. IDENTICAL. But she has always gone back to Cordurory.
The doctor secured Cordurory’s legs to her body, conditioned her hair, washed her smudged face, and gave her a new yellow outfit with a matching bow. TOTES fetching.
For the three days Cordurory was an in-patient, my girl fretted. She missed that doll. And I love that about her, that she watches makeup videos and likes murder mysteries and can bake chocolate chip cookies from scratch, but still loves that shaggy-haired, cupid-lipped touchstone from a Christmas past.
My father-in-law, who died several years ago, wasn’t a very demonstrative man. But he was purposeful. A person paid attention when he spoke because he usually said something worth hearing. He wasn’t a big shopper, and I remember being surprised when my mother-in-law told me he had chosen such a careful gift for the Diva. I like to think it was deliberate, though. He found a way to tangibly connect this child to both her ethnic beginnings and the familial love that embraces her, and as an aside, further endeared himself to all of us forever.
I don’t know how long Cordurory will remain a part of the Diva’s inner circle – whether she’ll make the transition to high school or trek off to college. But I know my girl embraces that doll as a symbol of her childhood and a reminder of how much her extended family adores her. So I sort of love Cordurory, too. The little spa visit she enjoyed didn’t erase all of the signs of aging – she still looks loved hard. Which reminds me that you’ve got to look twice or even thrice at something before you smush its head. I guess I still feel bad about that. Oh, well.