So there I was, after having called to wish my beautiful Mama a big, grand happy birthday, and I was watching a movie I wanted to like but didn't much, when I heard the dog start clicking his toenails around in the hall--and not in a purposive "I'm walking down the hallway" kind of way. Much more in a "remember the time I sneaked into the bedroom and found a wad of tissue paper that was in your new running shoe and then took the paper out to the front hall and chewed on it for awhile, just to show you I could?" kind of way. I got up to investigate.
And I found the dog in the hall, looking down very curiously--even fascinatedly--at a small black snake.
I think that snakes are really very cool, and I'm not generally afraid of things like insects and spiders. But I've never seen a snake in the house, and it freaked me out. Even a mouse in the house, it struck me suddenly, is less frightening than a snake in the house; at least a mouse is something you have a fighting shot at being able to pick up.
Somewhat stupidly, I did the first thing I could think of, which was to get a bowl from the kitchen and get it over the snake, which had gotten itself from the hallway into the bathroom.
The rest of the movie really wasn't that good, and I don't think that was just because I was thinking so much about the snake under the bowl behind the bathroom door (and also looking it up online to make sure that it wasn't venomous).
Finally, when it was time to go to bed (and the dog seemed to have forgotten about the snake, wihich he had snuffled after for a few minutes following the under-the-bowl maneuver), I decided that I needed to do whatever women do when it's time to man up, and so I put on one rubber glove (the better to pick up the snake without having to touch it--apparently that, too, is one of the lines I don't want to cross: would rather not have snake in house; would rather not touch snake with bare hand) and grabbed a brown paper bag and got ready to encourage the snake toward the bag.
If you've ever tried to encourage a snake in any direction by yourself, you know how this story ends. This snake was the diameter of a pencil--if that. Maybe it was the diameter of a Le Pen. And it had been trapped under a bowl for the better part of an hour. So the second there was even a crack of visible light, that snake was out of there, doing its best to get back to the most secretive place it could find--which was first out of the bathroom, until I re-opened the bathroom door. Once the bathroom door was reopened and I was chasing after it with a brown paper bag in one hand and a bowl in the other, the snake darted sideways repeatedly until it found a tiny hole left between a bathroom tile and the heating vent at the floorboard--a tiny hole where the grout is gone. And in it went, just slowly enough that had I been thinking, I could have tried grabbing its tail and pulling it back out.
But at no point did I want to hurt the snake, or even to frighten it. If it's really that secretive, then I may never see it again. My biggest fear--which was that somehow the dog had eaten the snake while we were out on our two-mile jaunt through the woods tonight, and then had vomited it up, and that that was how it got into the house--seems not to have been what happened, since there's no vomit anywhere. (But also, A: how could the dog have gobbled a fast-moving secretive snake without my having known it? and B: could a snake survive a couple of hours in dog stomach acid?) And so I'm going to hope that the snake will find its terrified way back to the outdoors (since we live in exactly its favorite place, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources: "They prefer rocky, wooded hillsides and cutover wooded areas")--or at least that we won't encounter each other in the hallway anymore.