And I thought I had it bad

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I’ve had a rocky past with pests . . . no matter where I’ve lived in my life, it seems I’ve attracted bats, mice, spiders, snakes, boxelder bugs, ladybugs.

Really, name the species — it seems they’ve come to visit in throngs.

When I was a kid, it was mice. I remember lying in bed and listening to them run inside the walls. It was disgusting and no matter how many years I lived there, I could never get used to it.

My hatred for rodents intensified . . . when a mouse was spotted in the living room, I’d intentionally ask for extra work at school so I wouldn’t have to go home at the end of the day out of fear one would run up my leg (an ongoing phobia).

The bat situation became an issue after I got married and we lived in our first house. I remember, as I stood outside in our new yard, how I loved the chirping of “all the birds” hanging in the trees at night.

At that point, my husband had to inform me that the thick covering of black was not made of fowl but rather filthy, disgusting, hairy winged monsters that terrified me to the core. The bats were so thick in town that you literally had them diving at your head if you went for a walk past dark.

Then the bats moved into our house, as they did to the majority of the neighbors. They’d hang upside down from the shower head to greet us in the morning when we turned on the light, or flutter room to room (sometimes two at a time), meaning we’d have to do battle with tennis racquets, brooms, pots and pans.

One man’s ceiling nearly caved in after his large brood of intruders started to reproduce and invited more to join them.

And of course, there’s the time I ran nearly naked, screaming through the house, after putting on a sweater to which a live bat was attached, caught on the front collar buttons.

Later came my rash of snake experiences in yet a different house. They were everywhere — parting the grass if it got too far past mowing time, falling out of a temporarily unscreened window onto the couch, falling on my head from a door ledge while they were sunning themselves outside. It was great.

There was the day I was greeted by a slithering menace by the television set when I got home from work, but he didn’t look too big. So I quietly grabbed a paint roller extender and one of my husband’s shoes and ran to take care of that devilish thing. I beat him with the wooden stick-thing over and over and over. Amazingly, I couldn’t kill him. I couldn’t even draw blood. He just kept looking at me like “That’s all you’ve got? Really?”

That made me madder so I hit him harder. That made him madder so he sloshed about faster. I hit him, he writhed, I said some bad words, he made a hissing sound. When the extender stick broke into pieces, I was left with just an 8-inch piece that I was reduced to use in a stabbing manner.

Somewhere along the way, he finally succumbed. I don’t think I immediately noticed because I was whipped into such a killing frenzy.

A number of years ago, it seemed the main source of our snake problems was cleaned up. The Nebraska Avenue storm sewer project, for some reason, left us snakeless. It’s blissful and stress free now. I took all the snake-killing equipment (shovel, giant wooden/steel barbecue utensil, old broom, tongs and hedge clippers) out of the house because I happily no longer need it.

As I’ve been relishing the absence of invaders, a reader sent me a story they ran across a few years back about these poor people named Ben and Amber Sessions.

The young couple purchased a home in Idaho in 2009, not knowing that the realtor was intentionally not telling them the “bargain dream” had already been deemed “the snake house” among locals. It didn’t take long to realize they were living in hell.

According to news accounts, the snakes slithered in the walls at night, creating loud commotions and released foul-smelling musk into the drinking water to the point the Sessions couldn’t use their water at all. When Ben killed 42 snakes in a single day he realized they had more than a nuisance.

The neighbors told reporters they didn’t know anyone was interested in the property — and it was too late when they saw the couple and their two toddlers moving in.

For three months, the Sessions dealt with the situation. Ben would kill as many as possible — when he got too tired from all the executions, he’d scoop more into buckets and cover them. If Ben rapped a stick against a roof overhang, he could hear dozens scatter.

The snakes were everywhere — in the walls, under the siding, filling every crawl space and spreading all over their living area. An eventual inspector estimated there were more than 2,000 garter snakes thriving on their property — the house had been built over a large and apparently popular den.

The Sessions had no option but to leave, file for bankruptcy and the bank foreclosed on the house. Amazingly, the bank that owned the property eventually listed the house for sale, in an attempt to pawn it off on someone else.

The listing was removed in a month, however, after the Animal Planet network did a feature story about the property.

And the end of the story included that the Sessions had more than their financial issues to deal with — they were being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.

I’ll take my long ago rodents, bat sweater memories and an occasional snake beating any day. To think I thought I ever had it bad.


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