Before we get into the meat of this entry, let me share with you my running status. The previous three weeks, I ran three times each week. My total mileage for week 1 of my current comeback was 4 miles. Week two was 8 miles. Last week totaled 9.8 miles. Today I began week four with 4 miles on the treadmill. I've been doing my Monday and Friday runs on the treadmill and my Wednesday runs on a local high-school track. My foot pain has been up and down, with not as much rhyme nor reason as I had thought, given today's run. It was my longest run since my layoff, followed by 70 minutes of pushing a lawnmower around our yard (which includes a hill...which normally makes my foot very angry). Tonight, the foot feels great. Last Friday, however, 3 miles on the treadmill caused foot pain and discomfort for the next 12 hours. As of now, the foot seems to be a day-by-day issue. My three days per week of short, flat runs will continue for the foreseeable future.
Okay, with that out of the way, I'll get into some good stuff. This is a running blog, and I'm indeed a runner. But, since my days of running around with the Rat Pack, I am first and foremost an entertainer. Ah, the stories I could tell about Dean Martin and I hiding Sammy Davis, Jr's glass eye...
But I digress. For some reason, tonight's dinner table conversation turned to snake talk. With my daughters hanging on every word, they asked me to tell them about my various experiences with snakes. Now, Steve Irwin (God rest his soul) I am not, but I've had a few interesting encounters. Here are four vignettes:
1. I spent my middle school years in St. Petersburg, Florida – home of many varieties of snakes; many of them poisonous. We had a garden tool in our shed that resembled a hoe, but with a straight, rather than bent, blade. I dubbed it my 'Snake Killer' (to this day, I don't know its intended use). One hot, muggy day I went out to our backyard to play and spotted a large, gray snake. I grabbed my Snake Killer and chased the snake back and forth across the outside wall of our house. I finally got a chance and successfully chopped its head off. It was only then, standing there in shorts and flip-flops, that I noticed the row of rattles at the end of its tail. I decided against telling my mom about that incident. This story just reminded me of a more recent summer drive across Washington state. While at a rest area, our dog nearly stepped on a coiled Western diamondback hiding in scrub brush. Wow. Not sure why she didn't smell it. Crazy as she was, she would have tried to play with it.
2. Once again in our FL back yard, there were three long black racers. I heard a ruckus and looked out my bedroom window to see them raised up in the air, the front three feet of their bodies straight up, trying to bite the two or three mockingbirds that were screeching and swooping down on them. It was pretty surreal. It was as if I was in India and someone was playing a clarinet as they swayed and danced. Just substitute a wicker basket with several angry birds.
3. Florida again, this time as an 18-yr old (visiting my mom during summer – by this time I lived in WA state with my dad). A friend and I went on a canoeing trip down a river with his mom's church. I'm not sure if it was entirely my fault that we kept drifting toward the bank, but I'll take the blame. I was in front, my friend in back. We were stuck under low-hanging branches. I ducked and tried to paddle our way back to the center of the river, while my friend fought the branches. He reached up and ended up pulling a fat and very poisonous 6' water mocassin into our canoe. He screamed a bunch of not-church-friendly words and flipped him out of the boat with his oar. By the time I turned around, the pastor of the church was beating the snake (now in the water) with his oar from his canoe, behind us. I may have wet myself just a little that day.
4. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it here, but it may not surprise you that I had a long, distinguished career as a practical joker. I did my best work between 1985 and 1994 (the last time I was employed by anyone other than myself...thus losing the opportunity to advance my jokester career. No, my wife is not a prime target). One of my crowning achievements happened during the summer of 1987. I was 20 years old, working in the warehouse of an electrical parts distributor in Kent, Washington (my home at that time). There were 7 of us employed there; one of whom was a very yuppie, pink shirt, white collar, slicked-back hair, "hey big guy"-saying, outside salesman (but a nice guy). Russ had a MAJOR fear of snakes. So...I did what any post-teen pratical jokemaster in that situation would do. I waited for him to leave the office on a sales call. I proceeded to take a small box with me to the shrub-laden field behind our office and collected about 12 garter snakes. I taped up the box, wrote "attn: Russ" on it (supposedly from our Seattle branch), placed it on his desk, and waited eagerly for his return. When he arrived, I was a bit uneasy as he decided to get on the phone with a customer AS HE WAS OPENING THE BOX. Seconds later, there was a shriek reminiscent of a teenaged girl at a Duran Duran concert (back then, of course), a flying phone receiver, a flying box, a dozen flying snakes, and one sharp-dressed, slender outside salesman standing on top of his desk with a look of terror on his face.
It was two weeks before he spoke to me again.
I did some of my most creative work at this particular place of business and was actually thrown into our dumpster by two of my coworkers once, who apparently didn't appreciate the artistic genius of my craft. I was in my prime, I tell ya!
So, there you have a summary of my history with snakes, along with a small glimpse into my former jokester life.
More running stuff soon, I promise.