Leapin' Lizards!

Detachable body parts? Ooh, cringeworthy.

We’re taking care of an aquarium full of geckos for one of Rebekah’s friends. Her boyfriend was in a motorcycle accident and she needs someone to take care of them. OK, I’ve taken care of animals before, this should be easy, right? (Apologies, I have to get in the obligatory statement of optimism so we can see the exact opposite happen. But hey, you’ve watched tv before, you know the drill)

There’s five of them so each one of us gets to name one lizard. I’m the last to choose my lizard because he’s the most elusive one. That’s a desirable trait in a gecko, I bet mine’s the stud of the pack. I was thinking of naming him “Gordon” after the movie Wall Street, but that doesn’t feel right. This is serious business. I need to commune with my gecko in order to take in his core personality so I can christen him appropriately. I need to sleep with him right by my bed. Wait, how do I know it’s a “he?” Just because I call it a him doesn’t make it so. No problem, that’s why they made unisex names. My lizard’s name: Pat.

So the next day we’re all in my daughter’s room watching them do lizard stuff. I’m pretty squeamish when it comes to actually touching them, but Rebekah decided to take off the lid and grab one of them. With a swift motion, she scooped up the little guy, pulled him out of the terrarium, and passed him off to our oldest daughter. Only problem was she didn’t tell us what she was doing and she caught Adria off guard. Apparently she takes after me in the squeamish department and she kind of jumped back during the handoff. The lizard did not like that. It freaked out and flipped around in the air, snapping its tail off. The lizard jumped one way and the tail shot off in another direction. The girls shrieked. Then I shrieked. None of us were expecting to see body parts flying across the room this morning. *Keep in mind this all took place in a matter of 2 seconds.

I know this is what lizards do naturally as a defense mechanism, but it’s still freaky to see in real life. And it totally worked; I didn’t know which was the lizard and which was the tail. Didn’t matter—I wasn’t about to touch the thing. And I definitely wasn’t going to touch the tail. It was flipping around like mad. Oh no, the dog! He was interested in a little snack. “Somebody kick out the dog and shut the door!”

We hope the lizard is contained in the room. Someone saw it scurry behind the bed’s headboard. We try brooms and yardsticks, but it’s no use. We can’t see it anymore. The lizard is now at large. Nobody can find him. Now my daughter won’t sleep in her room with a lizard on the loose. I don’t blame her. What if it wants to seek heat in the middle of the night and tries to crawl in my mouth as I snore. Can’t risk it. I seal off the room with tape under the door crack. We’ll pick this up another day.

10 days later

My daughter sees some little movement with her drapes along the floor. I check it out. We’ve tried to find the lizard several times over the last week with no luck. I figured he was a gonner, but as I sneak a look behind the curtain, I see it’s our man. Chillin behind the drapes. We devise a quick plan to sweep it into a trash can. It works! Without even having to touch the thing, I manage to dump him back into the terrarium with the others and they’re reunited. I’m overcome with emotion and have to discreetly flick away a tear as I proudly call in the family to see him brought back to the fold, or whatever you call a group of geckos.

Good defense mechanism. I have to wonder--what’s my mechanism? Sarcasm? Laughter? Letters to the editor? Nah, good 'ol lizard brained fight or flight fisticuffs.