Here’s a Little Ditty, about Willard and Eugene.

You may remember dear, kind former neighbor, Not-Crazy-Renee. Or  maybe you don’t. If you don’t, I demand that you immediately go do your homework and read everything in this category. You won’t regret it.

Snakey Butters Buttercup made appearances in at least two of those stories. We’ll refer to her as SBB, out of mercy for my fingers.

SBB is a Butterball Python that is the pet belonging to Not-Crazy-Renee’s seven-year-old daughter. She’s been around a few years and I kinda love her. I’ve fed her, I nearly got to mid-term-babysit her (as their realtor told them they could *never* sell a house with a snake in it and so Renee was going to move SBB to my house for staging purposes, but then her husband stepped in, fed up with realtor demands, and said “If they don’t want my house with a snake in it then they don’t deserve my house!” or something similar, thereby dashing my chances of being a snake foster mom), and in general we love each other.

But Not-Crazy-Renee had the indecency to move out of state last year. She went from being my neighbor to leaving me in distress and loneliness on a daily basis. I’ve been to visit her twice, the second time being last week.

I was thrilled to see that SBB had grown tremendously since my first visit last fall. In fact, I couldn’t tell that Not-Crazy-Renee’s children had grown, but totally gushed over how tall SBB had gotten.

Imagine my further excitement when I realized that I was assigned the bedroom in which SBB stayed, her glass cage just a couple feet away from my feet. And then there was my further incandescent happiness when I realized that SBB is nocturnal – and does little cage dances in the night – cage dances that make a cracking sound and feel thrillingly like she’s going to get out and eat me at any moment. Because it was clear that she definitely wanted to eat me in my sleep.

While I was there, the time came for SBB to have her weekly meal. Since she has indeed enlarged since she lived in Birmingham, she now gets two mice instead of one. Typically, Not-Crazy-Renee puts one mouse in the cage, and upon the finishing of that mouse, she puts the second mouse in the cage – the dessert mouse if you will. This is to protect SBB from any accidental damage from extraneous mice and to not confuse the feeding process.

But NCR always gets a little wacky when I come around, and on a lark, she stuck both mice in at once.

Then we sat back with our popcorn and waited expectantly.

The mice dumbly nosed around the cage, checking out their fortuitous new digs. They nincompoopedly skittered up to SBB, sniffing her shiny, scaly body with interest. We named the mice Eugene and Willard as we watched them idiotically bump into their upcoming fate.

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Eugene was the first to make the wrong move. He walked right in front of SBB’s face and just stood there.

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We knew it was coming. She pounced at high speed and grabbed him up, curling herself around him and retreating into her cave to finish the job of death before starting the job of lunch.

Meanwhile, Willard kept dumbly loitering throughout the cage, clueless of the dark, choky end that his friend was currently experiencing.

tenor-13“Hey Eugene!! Come check out this cave I found!! Eugene!! Eugene??”

A few minutes later, SBB, needing to stretch out to actually swallow the now-deceased-Eugene (may he Rest In Peace), emerged from the cave and began positioning her jaw and neck (do snakes have neck? Are snakes all neck?) to work Eugene down the hatch.

As she had Eugene, face-first in her throat with his butt in the air (containing a bit of “I pooped my pants” sticking out like a last failed missile), Willard happened to walk by, chanting “der der der”, as is the custom of mice, the dumbest and naivest of all creatures.

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But then Willard saw Eugene.

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And I saw the scales fall from his eyes.

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He, as the first second mouse ever to be allowed into SBB’s domain, had come to realize what this situation held.

And he ran.

He ran across the cage, found another cage, and I KID YOU NOT, started pushing woodchips in front of the entrance to create a barricade.

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He cowered in the back corner of the cave, hoping that somehow he could wait out the wrath of this magnificently dinosauric (to him) creature.

But swallowing a mouse is no quick process, and SBB took her time getting poor Eugene down.

Willard is like me, whereas his physical response to emotions takes a few minutes to kick in. After a spell of hiding in his cave, he started shaking all over, panicking. He realized that he could not cower and do nothing. He sprinted for the cage walls and began climbing the seams, looking for any opening or looseness from which to escape.

Meanwhile, The Massive Creature behind him was swallowing the last bit of Eugene’s tail.

Willard began running and shaking, pacing and pushing, doing anything to escape this Jurassic Hell. He pondered his life, wondering what it all meant, how he had ended up here, and was this always his purpose?

SBB finished her dinner and moved on to find Willard, sensing his presence nearby. She creepily began flicking her tongue, chasing his scent in a slow, methodical, utterly horror movie fashion. She’d track him to a corner, and Willard would hightail it out of there. SBB would stick around for a minute, tasting the air, and then determining that the dinner course had indeed moved on.

Two times they came face to face, Willard being very still, thinking this would save him, and SBB tasting the breath coming out of his mouth.

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Then Willard would peel out, spraying woodchips in SBB’s face. SBB would continue the slow, evil stalk.

I watched this for over an hour. I realized this was the first time in her life that SBB had a cognizant prey. A prey that realized he was prey and not just a dumb mouse walking into her outstretched hands (which she obviously didn’t have but those mice are so dumb she didn’t need them.) I wondered if she was enjoying the hunt. If she was feeling a primal urge inside of her to fully engage and win at something that she wasn’t predeterminedly set up to win.

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But finally, she bored of the game. She lay down, stretching out luxuriously, facing the corner in which Willard shook and hid.

Hours later, I came in the room to go to bed. There were still two creatures in the cage. I had gone from sleeping with a snake to sleeping with a snake and his saved midnight snack. The night consisted of cave creakings and the scratches of a continuously fleeing Willard.

When I woke up the next morning, I miraculously still had two roommates. They now seemed at peace with each other, SBB givin’ Willard some respect props, both using the same water bowl and hanging out in the same area. No one was shaking, no one was hunting. They had truly become roommates – the type that maybe is infuriated by the other every now and then but wouldn’t be with anyone else. They were Chandler and Joey sharing an apartment. They were gossiping about Ross and Rachel.

After I left, Renee set Willard free. It had been nearly 24 hours and he clearly wasn’t going to be eaten.

I pondered his life, the crazy turn it had taken, and his new future, free and liberated. He had the world ahead of him, but he was probably also wounded from the horror flick he’d just lived through. He was the one character that made it out, trudging wearily from the haunted house, covered in blood and haunted by memories of his friends being brutally torn apart by the monster.

So I asked Renee. Do you think the PTSD he now lives with was worth his freedom?

I was worried for his mental peace.

But ever the optimist, she replied,

“I think of him like a gladiator that survived the arena and fought his way to freedom. He. is. Maximus Mouse.”

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So there you go. He is a victor. He won The Hunger Games. He survived in the evil, bloody game of life.

At least for five minutes, until a hawk snatches him up.

Two Sprinkles of Life.

I got a much needed haircut last Friday. It’s been at least a year since I got a trim and the ends of my mistreated hair felt like Rumplestiltskin’s Straw (before turning to gold). I had to find a new hairdresser because mine moved out of state, so that’s something I can put off for forever.

But I found one. And I went. And my hair felt so free and happy and light and bouncy and healthy and shiny and all the things.

Half an hour later, I was walking down the block when I heard a whistle.

I looked up, and there was a septic tank cleaning truck. It was painted up on the side with a joyful bee flying in circles, and it stated proudly that it was “The Honey Wagon.” As that’s how everyone wants to think of their poo – synonymous with honey. (Which is, in fact, bee barf. So I really don’t understand the connection at all.)

My eyes made their way up to the driver’s window, and I made eye contact with a completely legit Santa Claus, minus the red suit.

He had bright, long white hair (with no split ends I’m sure) and a white beard at a length and breadth that Dumbledore would be jealous. And as he waved and winked at me, acknowledging that the whistle had indeed come from him, I definitely saw a Santa-like twinkle in his eye.

(Gross, Santa.)

So clearly my haircut was successful.

And let’s all take a moment to be relieved that Santa has a job in the off-season. Even if it is still hauling everyone else’s crap all over town.


I have an entire category of my personal sleepwalking stories (most including injuries.) Thankfully I haven’t partaken in the hobby in quite some time (or at least not violently – sometimes I’ll wake up in other rooms, but I haven’t thrown myself at a slice n’ dice dresser handle, or run into a wall, or dived off a bed in a seriously long while.)

Unfortunately, the disease of sleepwalking is genetic. And both my children were unlucky enough to receive that gene, rather than their father’s superior sleep gene that allows him to be the one in our marriage that falls asleep in two seconds and never rises in his sleep to ambulate from place to place.

(By the way, I have the theory that in every marriage, one spouse fall asleep in seconds, and one spouse has to lie there and rehash every conversation they had that day before they fall asleep, along with several rolls from their side to their stomach to their back to their other side. Is this true? Discuss.)

But sleepwalking.

It’s creepy enough to wake up where you’re not supposed to be, but there is nothing – NOTHING I tell you – creepier than a child sleepwalking in the middle of the night, their little zombie eyes staring three inches to the right of you with a dazed and blank look on their face. It’s as if they can see the ghosts having a soiree right next to you and you have no idea.

Friday night, I was enjoying a moment of quiet reading in my bedroom when I heard Noah’s door open. I looked at my watch – it was 10:24. Too late for sleepy gummies (We have a rule that if you’re still awake at 10pm, you can come get a Melatonin Gummy. Noah has been known to stay away staring at his clock to earn a sweet treat. So we had to get a bit more militant with the idea of “if you’re still awake.”)

I put down my book and silently waited to hear if he was headed to the bathroom.

No sound.

I got concerned, so I got out of bed and peeked into the hallway.

He was standing at the top of the stairs, in full-on zombie stare, his comforter wrapped around him and held by both hands around his neck like a cape, the bottom trailing the ground and wrapped around his feet in a very trip-and-fall-waiting-to-happen fashion.

Oh no. No no no.

I grabbed his shoulders just as he hovered his left foot over the stairs, as if he was going to walk down them but was sure they stretched out in the space in front of him and not in a downward fashion – a downward fashion that he was surely about to fall into.

I tried to disentangle his feet from his comforter and led him back to bed, all the while as he protested “But I’ve got to get (garble gobbledegook.) I need to get (you never can understand a whole sentence spoken from a sleepwalker.)” I begged him to stay in bed as he snuggled back in and resumed sleeping in the normal horizontal fashion.

Then I went back into my room to calm my nerves and curse my genes. And to take at least thirty minutes longer to fall asleep.

That Time That Butterflies Explained it All.

I was walking along, minding my own business, enjoying the sweltering humidity that is a June-Day-Between-Thunderstorms, when I all of a sudden found myself in a deeply philosophical place.

There was a flutter of activity, and I looked about. Butterflies. Blue butterflies. Green Butterflies. Orange Butterflies. Busily flapping about and clearly engaged in an important task.

Then I noticed that two landed on the ground near each other. I needed to get my camera ready!

Then a third!!

Oh, this was a regular butterfly convention happening. Thank goodness I was present to record the moment for posterity.

I got down on my knees and held the camera to my eye, which is when I realized what exactly they were all so excited about.

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They had all landed on a nice, fresh pile of dog poo and were busily sucking away at it.

This was more than I wanted to know about the dietary habits of butterflies. About the origins of their bold colors and their graceful flying abilities. About the tastiness of dog poo.

Yet, this moment seemed to offer so much wisdom. I found myself involuntarily creating new Southern Colloquialisms – an unavoidable past-time in Alabama, because we do love a memorable saying…

For when that annoying person is really getting on your last nerve…

“Three butterflies could land on that turd and he’d still stink.”

For when your kid has had an exceptionally whiny day…

“He’s three butterflies short of a turd party.”

When there’s that perfect Mom with the perfect hair and perfect nails and perfect outfit and perfect makeup and perfect kids and perfect house…

“She may look shiny and bright, but I guarantee you she’s sitting on a pile of dung somewhere in her life.”

When you’ve had a spectacularly pleasing day…

“I’m as happy as the first butterfly to a fresh dog log.”

For that person who always seems to make the worst choices…

“She could’ve had every flower in the forest but she chose to slurp on a turd.”

 For when you’re trying to look at the bright side of a bad situation…

“They say you can’t polish a turd, but you sure can land three pretty butterflies on it.”

To remind yourself that the fifteen dollars worth of Taco Bell you’re about to eat is totally normal….

“No matter how pretty and tiny you are, sometimes you just wanna eat like crap.”

When things are going too well…

“There’s dookie somewhere under all these butterflies.”

So go forth out into the world. Bolder and more confident. Having gained the wisdom of butterflies who make poor nutritional choices.