And now, without further ado, the most vicious creatures with which I have had direct confrontation and why, therefore, you should think before moving to Arizona:
I was working in the desert on the northeast side of Tucson and was walking around the side of a house to get to the backyard (most of my customers, being at least average judges of character, insist I take this route). Now mind you, I’m a fairly big guy (6’2″ when I get up, 5’10” by bedtime) and a shade (of a building) over two hundred pounds. Anything that lives in Arizona’s desert can see, feel or hear me coming a mile away, which made what happened next, in my mind, a clear breach of animal etiquette.
As I rounded the corner of the house, directly in front of me lay a large rattlesnake, coiled and ready to strike (see above. Not the actual snake; mine was way, way bigger). It was six feet long if it was an inch (I don’t really get this cliche, but I assume it’s mandatory when retelling the size of something). It had to have felt the thundering vibration of my steps as I approached, but chose not to shake the maracas on the end of its tail. I found this to be decidedly unfair; had it done so, I would have simply gone back to my truck, changed my shorts, and stomped loudly (and slowly) around the other side of the house. Thankfully, God was clearly with me at this moment. Not only did he reveal to me the offending serpent, but by allowing me to fail over and over again throughout my life, He instilled in me a tendency to walk with head hung low and eyes downcast. The danger was imminent, however, and I had only time to jump as the snake struck. I have envisioned myself at this moment as the Chow Yun Fat (Yun is Chinese for “makes me”) character in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: floating through the air in effortless grace, my arms extended, hands pointed downward, one leg slightly bent as I soundlessly landed thirty feet away. Reality was somewhat different. As I cleared the snake, I landed leaning forward, so my “effortless flight” likely included ten feet of stumbling, followed by two barrel rolls and a momentary hooking of my sac as I tumbled past some mesquite branches. I remember none of it; there I stood (ta-da!), thirty feet away, watching him slither away into the brush, feeling more alive than ever and all the more grateful for it.
As I cleared the striking rattler, I distinctly remember him hitting my shoe, but I found no corresponding marks to record the incident (other than a spattering of my own poo). In retrospect, I probably hit one shoe with the other as I jumped. No matter; he did strike at me, and somehow he missed. I thank the Lord whenever I think of it. Though I likely wouldn’t have died, a rattlesnake bite can really wreck your world (often up to one year to recover, and possible amputation of the affected extremity; this is why I don’t pee in bushes). It can ruin you financially as well, depending on your insurance (or lack of it); the cost of care, including antivenom, can easily exceed one hundred thousand dollars. If all this doesn’t make you think twice about coming to Arizona, you must have a lot on your mind. Or you’re stupid.
Though I wish to extricate myself from this series as much as you, I must wait until next time to tell you of my other frightful encounters with Arizona’s deadly wildlife. If you’re like me, your attention span has its limits; I’ll likely test those limits, and your patience, in Scary Arizona – Don’t Come Here, Part V.