When I was little, I had a habit of bringing home critters.
Most little girls probably bring home puppies, kittens, lost baby birds. I brought home reptiles.
I had seen a show on television about snake wranglers, and listened carefully as they explained how to properly catch a snake (behind the jaw, so it can’t twist around to bite you.) You have to be quick. I was. And happily, the field behind our house was swarming with my little slithery friends. Unhappily, my mother had a severe snake phobia and was not thrilled about my newfound hobby, especially because even at that young age, I had a seriously sadistic sense of humour and found it unendingly hilarious to sneak snakes into the house to freak my mother out. (Holding the head in your hand and twining its body around your arm, then pulling your sleeve down to hide it was a pretty effective Trojan horse tactic. Which led to my mother locking me out of the house on several occasions while demanding I strip on the doorstep as she watched through the window before allowing me admittance. *not sure who needs therapy more right now*)
Well, I got sick of this game eventually and one day while digging around under the house (don’t ask me why I was doing this – kids are weird), I found something that even my mother didn’t mind too much. A lizard – a salamander, I suppose, since they are native to Nova Scotia. I don’t really remember too much about his appearance…just that it was love at first sight.
“Lizard” (c’mon, I was five) was my new best friend. I kept him in my room, I carried him with me wherever I went. We were soul mates. For about 3 days.
Someone should have told me that lizards can grow back their tails.
You see, lizards like Lizard can lose segments of their tails when stressed (not that I see anything at all stressful about being mauled by a five-year-old all day and night). But they can regenerate their tails. Not always, but most of the time. And it most certainly doesn’t mean they are dead.
Someone should have told me this.
A sleeping, tailless lizard looks a lot like a dead lizard.
Well, drama queen that I am, the funeral was a rather involved affair. The entire neighbourhood was summoned. A grave was dug. Words were said. Lizard was interred – dust to dust, etc. A ‘headstone’ was erected (a piece of pink construction paper stuck on a twig that read, “Goodbye Lizard”).
Imagine my dismay as a grown-up when I discovered Lizard may have just been snoozin’. But considering my concept of ‘six-feet-under’ back then (about 2 or 3 centimeters), I have hope that Lizard was just faking his death in order to dig out and make his getaway. He is probably, to this day, lounging on a beach in Florida somewhere.
And, well, sometimes the Universe gives you a second chance, man.
A couple of months ago, my boss announced that her parents had discovered a lizard crawling up their drapes, likely imported in a potted plant from some faraway tropical region (don’t get too excited – it wasn’t Lizard – this isn’t that kind of story). But still…pretty cool.
Now, I work in a small office with only six staff members, and it can get lonely here at times. We had been tossing around the idea of an office pet for several years, actually. This was Fate.
So my boss set ‘Lizzie’ (yeah, I know…and this comes not long after busting a gut making fun of an aquaintance for having a pet dove named ‘Dovey’…whatever) up with a lovely little terrarium. Lizzie was determined to be a brown anole. Efforts were made to make Lizzie as comfy and well-fed as an Office Lizard could be.
However, knowing the heartbreak that can come of such things, I said what I said whenever anyone I co-habitate with (I work a lot – my co-workers are like roommates) brings home an animal. I said, “Fine, but I’m not looking after it. I’m not getting attached to it. I want nothing to do with it.” Yeah, ’cause that’s always worked so well for me. *said while mentally counting the number of times I’ve been stuck with animals my boyfriends have gotten tired of – too embarassingly high a number to confess until I know you a little better*
This attitude lasted all of about two seconds. By the second night, I was greeting the little fucker as I walked by to refill my water bottle. By the third night, I was googling ‘lizard care’ during my downtime. By the fourth, I was changing her water and tidying her tank. By the fifth, I was marveling over Lizzie’s adorable dragon-like appearance as she stood at attention when I spoke. After that it was a downward spiral into baby talk and tension-fraught confirmations of breathing. I would uncover Lizzie’s cage, and my good-mornings would be met with a single cracked eye, Lizzie’s way of saying, “Morning. I love you.” (The sky is beautiful colours in my world.)
Until today. I logged into Facebook and saw my boss’ status. “Hopes Lizzie is found safe and sound.”
My little friend has pulled a Houdini. She is nowhere to be found.
But I refuse to be distraught. In my mind, she is halfway to Mexico with her boyfriend, who traveled all the way here on a banana just to free her. She may already be basking in the sun, making new little baby anoles and enjoying exotic bugs that help erase the taste of the nasty Canadian crickets she was briefly forced to subsist on.
And you know what? At least she wasn’t buried.