“Catch and release” has a whole new meaning in Tanner-speak these days.
I was writing away at my computer recently. I also was multi-tasking as usual, busily calculating how I could sit cross-legged on my office chair without having it roll away into oblivion, taking me with it.
That is, assuming I could even get into a cross-legged position any more, let alone get back out of one without sustaining the immediate need for painkillers, serious chiropractic treatment and a forklift.
You see, I was trying to hide my lower limbs from a nervy, 8-inch-long alligator lizard that was trying, successfully, to hide from me while simultaneously scaring the tar out of me.
I’d seen Liz several times as he scurried from under a file box to behind a waste basket, or when he stuck his nose out from under a cabinet. “I know you’re in here, you substantial little fellow, you. Come out, come out, wherever you are.”
Just please, please, don’t do it suddenly.
In some ways, for a wild, uninvited visitor, Liz isn’t so bad. At least he catches bugs for a living, and he doesn’t want to see me any more than I want to see him. I’m just not real keen on having something creepy slithering up my pant leg, running across my foot or snuggling up to me on my pillow at night. N-n-n-nnooo. Not my kind of surprise, no sir.
The www.anapsid.org site says that alligator lizards are “pugnacious when caught, and they will thrash around, often delivering a painful bite.”
Oh, goody, swell. Just what I want: A houseguest that’ll chomp down on my toes. Heck of a way to be shocked into vivid wakefulness at 2 a.m., when all I wanted was a drink of water.
This was the Tanners’ third lizard interloper, two of them in less than a week, lucky us. Lizards really aren’t “warm fuzzy” pets. Better than a spider, fish or a snake, I guess, but not by much. I’m a puppy person.
Our first visitor lizard curled up in my sandal in the middle of the night, and when I slid my foot into the Birkenstocks, something didn’t feel quite right. I’ll bet it felt even worse to the lizard. Fortunately, his take-a-bite reflex wasn’t awake yet.
Eventually, he hid in the channel for the sliding glass door. “Ooops, sorry Liz! Didn’t see you in there. I’m so sorry. Go ahead, limp on outside, there’s a good chap.”
Months later, a second lizard ducked into the house. It was hard to tell who was less enchanted, Liz 2 or our friend Selene, who found him scrunched up in a ball behind an interior door. Eventually, we got him back outside.
Then came Liz 3.
With me still curled up on my chair, Husband Richard spotted the critter lurking beneath my office storage table. Chuckle, chuckle, he, he. I’ll bet the lizard doesn’t know the table rolls.
We launched an attack, moving the table, chasing Liz 3 from under the table into the corner and then back. Back and forth. Again. Finally, we established a lizard fortress with barricades and a moat. Arming ourselves with translucent-shoebox traps, we got ’im.
I grabbed a thin, stiff, rimless cookie sheet and carefully slid it under the edge of the overturned shoebox. (Cardboard’s not stiff enough for that maneuver. Alligator lizards are heavier than you think, and neither he nor I wanted him dropped.)
You’d have thought I was carrying nitroglycerine or an armed bomb as I walked carefully out the front door and over to the eucalyptus grove. No Grand Pooh Bah in a rajah chair has ever been carried so carefully.
“See ya, Liz!”
By then, I’m sure he was as glad to see us in his hypothetical rear-view mirror as we were to see him scurry off underneath the rosemary bushes.
Not to be antisocial, Liz, but please don’t come back. Tell your friends.
Now, if anybody has handy hints about how to keep the lizards out, so we don’t have to go through this again, I’d be ever so grateful. And I’d even suffer through a lesson or two in sitting cross-legged, just in case.