I open up the lid and find… a dead snake. It’s floating belly up at the bottom of the tub.
This is a disaster.
I start a full drain and walk off disheartened. How long has this animal been sitting in the warm water? Is this 1.5 foot snake going to turn into multiple fractional snakes when I touch it because it’s been sitting there decomposing?
I end up leaving it alone for the evening, our hot tubbing plans are probably going to have to be called off. This needs a full scrubdown and careful checking over to make sure it’s not a biohazard, after all.
I go to bed that night and actually wake up at 3AM after fitful dreams about snakes. I sit there willing myself back to sleep, but no joy. All I see over and over again is this snake that I know is just a few feet away that’s sitting there rotting. I try to think of something else, but my brain rebels. “No,” it tells me, “you’re going to have to deal with this dead snake tomorrow and it will be horrible.” Damnit.
I finally get out of bed and start my day tired and stressed. A simple chore has now become a looming dark task in my mind that I just know is going to _suck_. Finally, breakfasted and caffeinated, I get on some dirty clothes (I know I’ll be showering immediately afterwards) and shamble resignedly to the back and lift up the lid.
The hot tub is now mostly empty (we can put men on the moon but putting drains in the lowest parts of a hot-tub escapes even the finest Relaxation Technology scientists) and the snake corpse is sitting in a small pool.
I have a large halloween-candy bowl that’s wider than deep and, I figure, might be able to scoop up the (presumably bloated) remains with minimal mess. I pump myself up, let’s get this over with.
I bend over the lip of the tub, reach out with the big plastic bowl, and SCOOP. To my delight, the entire cadaver slides directly into the bowl. Part of the tail sticks over the edge, but it’s stiff enough that it doesn’t even flop over.
Wait, ‘stiff’? That’s weird, this thing has been sitting in a hot tub for who knows how many days/weeks. I’m no carrion scientist, but I’m pretty sure it should be some sort of half-stew mass of sludgy ichor barely held together by water-logged skin by now. Why is it stiff?
Careful not to spill, I stand up and lift the bowl closer to inspect this mystery. In the light, I now notice more details. The belly scales are there, I can see the tongue, and… a logo? Oh god.
This, I realize in growing shock, is a rubber toy snake. It’s one of many I’ve bought over the years to play jokes on people with. I leave them sitting on the wing of the plane, on beds, at the top of stairs, you get the idea. And now it’s sitting here in a bowl atop my empty hot tub.
I’ve been stressing over this task for maybe 18 hours. I’ve lost sleep, appetite, and more over what turns out to be a toy snake?!
Then I realize something else: My kids… they got me.
They really got me.
I’m so proud.