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Wanted: Snake Wrangler


Lance K. Pugh

I don’t like garden hoses, nor am I particularly fond of their relatives, extension cords. My antipathy derives from the fact that hoses relentlessly refuse to bend to my will. Simply put, I want them tidy and they want to be knotty.

Just the other day I went into my side yard to get ready to wash the car. I’ve got two hoses coupled together, this to give me a hundred foot reach out to the street. I grabbed the nozzle and walked about five feet before being jerked to a stop. I looked back at the hose and saw what appeared to be the remains of a regional Eagle Scout knot tying merit badge competition: a Bowline here, a Clove Hitch there, a Full Carrick Bend, a Constrictor Knot and a Sliding Sheet Bend. I sure was looking forward to meeting the winner of this contest.

It took over an hour to unravel the hose and turn the water on. I wrestled it towards the street, though it seemed to somehow wrap itself around any number of things in my yard, requiring me to retrace my steps and put my hands on the problem. Ten minutes later I was at the curb, ready to begin washing the car. I turned on the nozzle and only the smallest of spurts, then dribbles of water appeared. In disgust I threw the nozzle to the ground and again followed the hose back through the yard to discover a kink in this water snake.

In order to effect repair I had to pull on 99 feet of full, heavy hose, which immediately, though I didn’t know it from afar, jammed the trigger of the nozzle into full-auto. After a brief tussle I had matters straightened out, only to immediately hear a scream emanating from the curb. It seem that the postman was in midst stride exactly over the upward pointing nozzle when Old Faithful shot a gusher straight up the leg of his shorts, causing him to shout while tossing an arm load of mail into the air. Just then a gust of wind sorted the mail, encouraging the postcards to flitter down wind like butterflies, while more weighty matters, like our utility bill, fell with a wet thump to the ground.

I quickly turned off the water and went out to the Postal Disaster, running down the block snatching postcards; coupons and other light correspondence form the air like a Frisbee dog. After proffering a Mea Culpa and a towel I continued with my cleaning task while thinking of how to, if it were even possible, to get back in the good graces of the Postman.

After a bit the car once again appeared tidy and clean. Thus, with a new feeling of organization I began to again coil the hose on its’ holder, being extra careful with each wind of the loop. Pleased with my effort, I started back into the house just as my wife, Annette, burst toward me to ask: “Would you please bring the hose to the garden? I have to go back inside to make a quick call.”

With a pulse of pride I uncoiled about 10 feet, then powerfully snapped the hose with both hands like a whip. I did not expect 40 feet of coils to spring into the air, landing tightly around my torso like an anaconda on lunch break. With my arms pinned to my sides I fell back on the grass and struggled madly; rolling and grappling as I twisted into the mud of the garden.

Annette never came back outside, as she got a call and left to show a house. Fortunately, I was able to reach my trusty pocket knife and kept cutting until released from the grip in the garden, explaining the next day that the mess in the garden must have been the result of plundering raccoons.

After a quick shower I sat down and thought of a new approach to managing the hose. After a brief epiphany, I headed downtown and bought a few items, then came home and got ready for Round Two. Having watched every Johnny Weissmuller movie ever made, I knew the look needed to take command of the situation. Changing into the new outfit I looked into the mirror and approved: Jodhpurs with lace up leather boots, a long sleeve Bush shirt, a Congo vest, leather gloves and a Livingstone pith helmet. Attached to my belt was a machete and a bull whip. Time to shape up that garden python!

With a roll of new hose in each arm I strode confidently into the yard, tossing them down with a mild contempt. I jumped in with the machete and slashed them free, then stood back and set the atmosphere with a dozen cracks of the bullwhip. Shortly thereafter I had the hoses connected and tame to the touch. Since setting the tone, the hose doesn’t crimp, knot or tangle. To rewind it all I do is whip the hose once and it recoils back to its’ stand, ever ready to please.

It was then that I heard my wife’s voice swing over the fence: If you’re through, Jungle Boy, I need some help carrying the groceries into the house.”

(Bwana was last seen swinging from the Black Walnut tree from a rope. You may yodel easily his way: lance@journalist.com)

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