Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cutting the Head off the Lizard

I am squeamish. If I were dropped off on an island Survivor style and it didn't have a pizza joint on it I would surely starve to death. I don't hunt. I don't even fish and the last time I fished when I was a kid I opted for the cheese ball on the hook instead of the worm. I have watched all sorts of fictionalized mayhem on the screen - be headings, disembowelment, exploding bodies, impalings, stabbings... all sorts of gross things and I am perfectly fine separating fantasy from reality but if I were to witness a real protruding bone from a broken arm i think I might possibly loose my lunch and dinner.

One weekend as I was mowing the backyard I noticed a lizard scampering up the stucco wall of my house obviously scattering from the sound of the lawn mower. I stopped to examine the little guy, even thought about trying to catch him in my hands to show the kids but instead just went on my merry mowing way. The grass was a bit higher than normal as I hadn't mowed in two full weeks. I decided to move in a diagonal fashion which seemed to make this arduous task go a little faster. As I angled back past the shade of an elm tree I saw it. A lizard was on it's back depressed into the cut grass. It had large avoided the wrath of the mower but unfortunately the blade severed it's right front leg and slashed open it's belly. The sight of that little creature with it's guts splayed out and it still quivering not only grossed me out but saddened me. I do not like to see any creature suffer.

I paced back and forth doing that indecision dance I often do. Then I yelled toward the house in this kind of avoidance move- "I mowed over a lizard!" I felt like I was 10 years old. As far as I can tell no one heard my announcement except my dog Lucy who was quizzically staring at me through the back security screen door. I looked at the little guy (yes now I had ascribed a gender to the lizard) who was still moving and dieing there on the lawn. I headed for the tool shed and grabbed a garden spade. I let the square flat edge hang like a guillotine blade over the lizards neck area, closed my eyes and plunged it down hard. I opened my eyes to see he was no longer moving. I felt this sense of relief and accomplishment bolstered by the belief that I had done the right thing. I yelled to the house, "I killed the lizard!"

I actually felt a sense of calm after putting the lizard out of it's misery. As is often the case, a series of thoughts scattered in my brain. I had mowed lawns thousands of times at the various homes I have lived in and not once had I ever mowed over a lizard or at least not seen any evidence of doing so. Lizards are fast little buggers and like most reptiles (if you count their Dino-saurian descendants) have about 200 million years of survival instinct built into them. They are pretty good at avoiding things like mowers. So maybe he was injured or sickly, maybe my mow over was a simple example of the survival of the fittest. Maybe he was plagued with a serious contagious illness and my inadvertent killing had actually kept this contagious lizard killing disease from infecting a larger population of lizards. Maybe he was lizard X. Maybe I just prevented the utter extinction of this particular species of lizards.

Or maybe he was a highly evolved lizard. I mean, it is the evolved of the species that seem to get killed by all sorts of random events. It is always the more intelligent sober among us who get killed in car accidents and the drunken dough heads who are driving without seat belts, get thrown 40 feet and land on their heads who live. "The guy was not tensed up when he landed and that saved his life" - that is always what they always say. So maybe this little lizard was losing his survival instinct because he was a thinking lizard, an evolved creature and I murdered him!

Maybe he was part of an evolved lizard family who now are waiting for daddy to get home and teach them cross species language. Can you imagine walking down the sidewalk only to hear a thunderous God awful grinding noise approaching? The sound becomes deafening, wind storms arise until a large metal blade swooshes over you and cuts you into pieces. This is what happened to my poor little evolving guy.
I will mourn you my scaly lizard friend.

- Adler Bloom

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