Friday, August 18, 2006

In Which Our Heroine Encounters Her Deeper Fears

There are many things in the world I am afraid to be near. I think that's pretty normal. For the most part, I'm pretty good at saying "This is scary, but I'm going to do/go/eat it anyway." And then there are the things to which I am truly phobic. Highly irrational, but screaming terror get away from me, eek eek, you get the idea. Thankfully, these things are limited. First off, and the subject of today's little venting, is my mortal enemy, the snake.

Snakes, man. Can't stand 'em. But this is so far beyond that I can barely tell you. I walk across Boston Common, perpetually looking for snakes. I've never seen one, but I'm telling you they're there, waiting to slither up to me and slide across my foot. When we were in Winchester the other week, talking a lovely walk along the river Ichen, something rustled in the reeds and I grabbed my companion's arm with maybe a little too much force as I said "I thought I heard a snake." Re-assured by the transparent lie that I so wanted to believe that before St Patrick went to Ireland to rid it of snakes, he first practiced in Winchester, our walk was saved. But it turns out, not saved for that long.

Total, I've lived in England for about seven years. And in that time I've taken a lot of walks in a lot of places and not seen one snake. Not a one. Ever. I know they're here. Mike has regaled me with tales of how he once pulled a harmless grass snake around by the tail when he was a kid. But I've never seen one, and let me tell you that I have looked.

You may have foreseen by now that this is all about to change, and you'd be correct. So there we were on Saturday, wandering along down by the Quay. Center of Exeter, nice and busy, boats in the water, people on the sides, people on the bridge, and me on the phone talking to someone. It was the fact I was on the phone holding a conversation that stopped me from screaming, although it is a miracle I didn't drop the phone into the river. It was the same sort of reaction as Winchester, though. Namely, to grab Mike's arm, yank him towards the edge of the bridge, and point to the FOUR FOOT SNAKE THAT WAS SWIMMING ALONG DOWNSTREAM.

Mike thought it was fascinating. While i was trying to get as far away from what was as far as I could tell the Loch Ness Monster on holiday, ready to chomp me into little pieces, Mike was running closer to it on the bridge, watching it swim underneath, crossing over to the other side to watch it keep going. I, on the other hand, adopted a state of vigilance that was a little beyond the pale, particularly near the river. We had to go over a little footbridge, which prompted me to be so startled by a duck (obviously a killer stealth duck, you see), that I did in fact jump and scream out loud. Having to cross over the main river twice that day didn't help, and near hyperventilation ensued. Mike, in the meantime, had named the snake Barney and thought it was a friendly little thing, all the while acknowledging that it was a four foot long grass snake. He refused, just plain refused, to concur with me that it was obviously searching for blood.

The amazing thing was that with all the other people around, no one else noticed it. None of the boaters, none of the other people, no one. Just me, and then when half dragged off the bridge, Mike. It was shocking. As Mike even said at the time, "This could only happen to you. I've lived here all my life and never seen a snake in the middle of the city. But with you, sure, why not?"

The movie that combines all my worst fears and phobias, one Snakes on a Plane, opens today. I won't be going!



Wednesday, August 16, 2006

In Which Our Heroine Completes Her Transformation into a Cottage Industry

A couple of years ago, while at a wedding where I was a witness, read a poem, kept the groom's mother under control and made the wedding cake, I paused during the reception to hand a friend and his wife a baby sweater I had just knit for their then forthcoming child. Which reminds me, I need to knit something for what is now their next forthcoming child. But I digress. He said to me at the time "You realize, Annie dear, that with Martha Stewart in prison, your career path is now clear."

Oh, how we laughed.

But now I have to go to a friend's wedding here in England. It is going to be one of those big posh English things. They're well off, so the reception is in the "garden" (I used to live on a farm that was smaller than their garden!) and the bride, who is a dear friend, has specifically asked me to wear a great big hat. Sho nuff, honey, it is your big day.

Except that I've got a big head. And that hats seem hard to find. And they're even harder to find if you've got a big head. The answer, it seems is so Anne-oriented that I can only smack myself in the head why I didn't come up with it sooner.

Take a class. Or, in simpler terms, make my own durn hat.

So that's what I'm doing. Class is August 30-31, and I will leave with one and a half hats (I finish the second one at home). They're going to be big, and they're going to be decorated, and no one will be able to get within five feet of me. I am only limited by the dimensions of the boot of the car I'm travelling in, which is a BMW Z4 convertible. It is the convertible bit that makes putting it in the trunk a necessity. Otherwise that hat will get lost down a little country lane at a high rate of speed.

Pictures to come, folks.