Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Python in the Oven

I recently told this story to a group of online friends, and decided that since I'd typed it all out, I would share it here.

Let’s see…it was a dark and stormy night….

No, that’s not true. It was actually a Sunday evening, and it was a chilly April Fool’s day, BUT, that doesn’t play into it – though we thought it did at first.

Some background (for I am thoroughly incapable of telling a SHORT story, without detail…)

When I was still married to my first husband, the kids’ father, we moved back into the city of Minneapolis (we had built a house about 20 miles out to be near my parents, and then my dad died, which is a whole ‘nother story)… We moved into an area of Minneapolis that’s kind of expensive (well, now it’s REALLY expensive), in the lakes area of the city, near downtown. One of the few historic areas of the city, it’s full of three story houses. Many of the really grand houses were originally built by lumber barons and railroad tycoons in the early years of the city. Working your way off the most expensive “crest” of the hill are other very nice houses, still rather large (though built very close together). Many of those houses, and even the large grand houses, had seen better days – when we moved in (1987) people had begun buying up the houses and restoring them, but through the energy crisis and other tough years, many of the houses had been chopped up, turned into boarding houses or tri-plexes, and other weirdness.

We got our house for a good price. It had remained a single family home, but it had some real quirks, and needed some major help – especially in the kitchen, which was a nightmare of loose tile, linoleum covered countertops, and MICE nesting everywhere. We moved in August and felt like pioneers (screens missing from the upper windows, no air conditioning), but were thrilled to have moved into a vibrant, diverse, charming neighborhood. Just a couple weeks later, our kids started school. My youngest, Genevieve, was in first grade, and made lots of friends right away. We met one of the friends and her parents, when they came to our house to trick-or-treat on Halloween. Turns out they lived just about two blocks away, and we all became good friends.

The parents were a really interesting couple; he was a gorgeous man, tall, slender, handsome and gentle - originally from Mexico. She was a tall, thin, outgoing blond from the suburbs of Minneapolis. They had been living in the area for several years, buying the chopped up houses and restoring them to single family homes and re-selling and moving up. I loved seeing our two daughters playing together – both of the girls were tall for their ages; one with blond hair that got a bit wavy in humidity and big blue eyes; the other with heavy, dark straight hair and large dark eyes, they were fascinating to see with their heads together, giggling, whispering, dancing… Our families’ friendship grew to the point where we all had dinner together every Sunday evening, alternating between their house and ours. At one point in time, they owned both the house they were living in and restoring, and a house about half a block away, that had been built for a prominent family in the 1800s, then fell on hard times and had been turned into 4 “apartments,” I think in the late 60s. They were in the process of converting that one back, had gradually removed the renters, and were working on renovating the main and second floors so they could move into that house.

For some reason, the dinners at their home often became long evenings with lots of wine, low music, and conversation. By the way, that’s where I learned the trick of putting the box wine in a crystal pitcher and bringing it to the table, none of the guests any the wiser! During one of our evenings of much wine consumption, they mentioned that they had a brand new tenant for the small third floor apartment of the place they were renovating. Lo and behold, she called just a few minutes later. Said she had moved in during the day, but didn’t think the snake in the oven was a very nice greeting! We, of course, thought she was crazy, but had enough wine in us to walk down to the other house and use their key to go look in the oven. Sure enough, the little apartment size stove, which happened to be a gas stove with a pilot light in the oven, had a snake coiled in it, filling the entire bottom of the oven. For whatever reason – probably the wine – my former husband and I thought it would be a good idea to get a glove or two, a big pillowcase, and help them remove the snake. Which we did. I held the pillowcase, my now-ex grabbed the snake, we had them take a photo of the thing dangling from his hand – about seven feet long. He dropped it in the pillowcase, we tied it shut, all the while our friends keeping a good distance, but giving encouragement from around the door casing in the next room. Once it was secure, our friends put the bag-o-snake on the back porch.

They called their former tenant, and left him a message asking him what he thought he was doing, leaving a snake in the oven, and telling him to come and get it from the back porch. He called back about half an hour later, furious that the snake was out on the cold porch, telling them that it was an expensive reticulated python which needed warmth and it could die on the porch. Our friends, by that time, had enough wine to ask him that if he was so worried about it, why did he leave it behind?. The former tenant said that it had gotten out about two weeks prior to his move out and he hadn’t been able to find it, so assumed it had escaped into the walls. Doesn’t it seem to you that if that were your “pet,” you would perhaps tell your landlord about what might turn up in his house somewhere?

And that’s the story of the snake in the oven – and a cautionary tale about what I might do during a wine-filled evening.


Tami said...

Oh my, you're a snake wrangler! Thanks for sharing the story with us. :-)

Jennifer Rose said...

some people shouldn't have pets, let alone a snake that will get that big and bigger >.< I would have been trying every trick to get the snake found if my snake had of gotten loose (thankfully though he would not have gotten that big)

joggerellablog said...

I can't believe you tangled with that snake...or didn't exactly tangle...and I laughed out loud. Can you imagine opening the oven door and seeing something like that?

Lily White said...

I hear it tastes like chicken.

D said...

Great story! You have lived such an interesting life. I am sorry you are giving up the historical building in NC. But long distance landlording is not easy.