I called my grandson Georgie today, as I often do on my way to school. (He usually answers, “Hi, Gaga, Goggy, Gogo!” No respect. I don’t know how it happened.) We have lovely conversations about everything that’s been happening in his life — since yesterday: “I picked another strawberry from my crops!” or “I made a new invention to trap a bad guy if he climbs up in my treehouse!” or “Charlie (big brother) hitted me ’cause I tieded him up with the string from Mommy’s tennis racket!” Stuff like that.
Today, I asked Georgie to ask his mother if they were coming to see me for Mother’s Day. It’s only two hours, and they haven’t been up in ages, and Gaga might not make it to another Mother’s Day, and then how would they feel … not that I’m trying to guilt them into it, like my own mother does!
Georgie asked his mom, and came back, “Mommy says, if you first get rid of the snakes, the ticks and the gunshots, then we can come!”
I hung up feeling a bit huffy. I live in the woods. I know there are snakes in the woods. But, there are snakes in the city, too, and in fact, I saw more snakes in the city — three, than I’ve seen out here in the country — zero! In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, Charlie and Georgie both saw a snake in their own backyard, so, don’t tell me about snakes, honey, because so far they’ve stayed away from me. They know better.
I like to think it’s because I have a totally live-and-let-live attitude about snakes: I don’t mind if they’re living, as long as they’re doing it far away from me. Sort of like mice … or roaches … or my ex-husband. Just kidding, I think mice are kind of cute. But, if a snake lets me see him, he should know that I will retaliate by cleverly fainting, screaming, running, leaping, and/or climbing up into my treehouse, which will cause him to die, either of fright or laughter, whatever.
As to the ticks, I’ve written about them before. Ticks are horrid and disgusting, and I have no interest in hearing about any of their redeeming factors, because they’re just gross. And, I seriously don’t care if ticks do “important jobs in nature.” They could cut the grass, paint the house and tap dance, and still, to put it mildly, they are a scourge on humanity!
Last time the kids came up to see me, they found a few ticks, and my daughter, who is somewhat given to overreacting (from her father’s side), freaked. She wanted to cover everything in the house with a sheet — including the children. This was unsatisfactory to the children, though, so she simply didn’t allow them outside, except to walk from the house to the car, and only under heavy guard. I’m calling Terminix to see if there’s a good, dense, toxic fog they can spray that will cover a distance of at least 25 feet from the house in all directions, around the perimeter.
Now, the gunshots are a whole different story. See, two years ago, at Thanksgiving, my daughter and her family were visiting, along with my son, my parents, my sister and her daughter. One day, the kids and their dad were playing outside on the driveway near our garage, and they heard shooting. I was new to the country at that point, but I said sagely, “Those are hunters, I bet!” And, we were all aflutter and thrilled about hearing gunshots, and everyone came outside to listen. My dad said they were using a high-powered rifle, which he could tell by the sound and the rapidity of the shots. (My dad, along with being a lawyer, fancies himself many other things, including a he-man hunter and military sniper.)
Several days later, after everyone was gone, I was walking around the back of my car in the closed garage, and noticed a tiny hole in the garage door. The metal strut behind the hole was bent and deformed, and when I looked down, there was a freakin’ bullet on the floor!
When I regained consciousness, I called the sheriff, who came over and took a look at it, and said calmly, “Huh.”
I waited, and realizing I wasn’t satisfied, he went on, “Well, I reckon there’s hunters out here in these woods who don’t know there are houses in here now.” Ya think?!
So, from now on, I’m supposed to call him every time I hear gunshots. I’ve called 387 times. He may be getting annoyed. But, he’ll be sorry when I’m too dead to call!
Vicki Wentz’s column, which appears here on Sundays, is published in newspapers across the country. She is a high school teacher who lives in Chapel Hill, N.C. Readers may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.