A few weeks ago, my mother complained that Dr. Socks – the cat she adopted from my brother following the birth of his first child – charged through a patio window when another cat appeared in the backyard.
“He broke the screen,” she said. “Went right through it.”
Had I not seen Socks destroy the better part of the first floor of my parents’ house when he got stuck in a gift bag a few Christmases ago, I might have accused her of exaggerating. But having picked up the pieces from that rampage, I knew what he was capable of. In a word, plenty.
“A SNAKE?” I yelled.
“Oh yeah,” she replied. “We saw him playing with something under the table one night – and you know him, he never plays with anything.”
She paused to take a sip of tea.
“Anyway, when I went over, I saw that it was a snake,” she explained. “And Socks was battin’ it around and chasin’ it all through the chairs!”
“Wait! It was alive?!” I yelled.
“Well it was just a little one,” she explained, holding up her hands about a foot apart. “But yeah, it was alive.”
“And then what?!”
“Well Daddy went in and killed it,” which, for the record, is a line that makes its way into quite a few stories in our house.
“Killed it with what?!” I asked
“A moccasin,” she shrugged.
At this point, my father walked into the room. “Are you tellin’ her about the snake?” he asked.
Then, before either of us could reply, he added, “Nov, I killed it with my moccasin. You shoulda seen it!” And then, as if there was a question about his method, he struck the air with an imaginary slipper. “Right on the head.”
“I’m sorry I missed that,” I said.
“And Socks was getting mad,” he continued. “Like I was takin’ his kill.”
“Imagine that,” I said.
And here is where the story gets even stranger. Because rather than bag the dead snake and take it outside, my father let the cat continue playing with it because, “It was his.”
“You let him keep it?!” I asked. “In the house?!”
“It was just little,” my mom repeated. “And just for a few minutes. But then we figured he’d hide it. So we threw it out.”
“You mean outside,” I said.
“No, just in the trash,” my dad said. “In the laundry room.”
“That trash can doesn’t even have a lid!!” I yelled.
“Well it was dead,” he said, waving away my concern.
“Right,” I said. “Because you killed it. With your moccasin.”
“That’s right,” he agreed. “With my moccasin.”
It was at about this time that everyone else in the room looked at one another and shared a good laugh.
“What’s so funny?” my mom asked. “What’s so funny about a moccasin?”
And to be fair, nothing. Nothing is funny about a moccasin. And nothing is particularly funny about a snake making its way into a living room either. But put the two together – and you got yourself a real laugh riot.
A few minutes later, while my dad was still in good spirits from reliving the glory of beating something to death and with the Philadelphia Eagles momentarily ahead in the second half, I decided that was a good a time as any to tell him that I quit my job.
“I’m staying until February,” I said. “And then I’m going to work for myself.”
“Work for yourself?!” he yelled. “Are you even that good?!”
Up until that point, I thought I was. But there’s something incredibly humbling about having a man who just killed a snake with a slipper act like you’re the crazy one.
Time will tell if I make it – but I think I’m going to be fine. I know I’ll get things done – somehow. I’ll figure out a way.
After all, I’m my father’s daughter.
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