Attack of the Iguana
When I was about 7 years old, I got my first exotic pet. I had gone into the pet store and the man inside was holding an Iguana. It was about a foot long, including it's long tail. He was bright green, and kind of "scaley looking". The man asked if I wanted to touch it and I did. I took my little finger and rubbed down the length of the Iguana'a back. I fell in love with the lizard. I brought Mom back to the store to see it and asked her if I could have it. I expected her to say no, but she didn't. She asked "You're not scared of it?". No I wasn't, I loved it. She must've been having a weak moment, and she told the man we would take it. She bought the lizard and the plastic cage and everything else one needs to make a foot long lizard feel comfortable in your home. The iguana was put into a cardboard box with holes in it and we loaded everything into the car and headed home.
On the way home we discussed names for the Iguana. Mom had a rule that the name of a pet had to start with the same letter as the species. We had Chester the Cat, Georgette the Gerbil, Freddie the Frog, Terrance the Turtle, and Happy the Hound (we couldn't think of a name that started with "D" for Dog). Coming up with an "I" word for an Iguana wasn't easy. We thought about calling him Larry the Lizard, but I finally came up with Iggy the Iguana, and Mom said that was good.
Mom had a hair appointment that day, so she dropped me off at the house and instructed me to put Iggie in his cage while she was gone. I carried the cage and the box in the house- proud of my new pet and ready to show it off to my brothers. We set up the cage and got ready to introduce Iggy to his new home. I opened the cardboard box and Iggy jumped out. I was terrified of him. I remembered Mom asing me if I would be scared, and I had said no. I wasn't scared as long as someone else was holding him and he was calm. But this monster that was in my house was not the same animal that I had gently stroked an hour earlier. Iggy started running through the house, while my brothers and I chased him around -- wanting to catch him, but not wanting to actually touch him. But we knew that we had to get him in his cage somehow, and soon- before Mom got home. We enlisted the help of the Mogan kids next door: Paul, Patrick and Peter. They were our age, and no better at catching Iguanas than we were. As Iggy eluded us, I went back next door to talk to the Mogan kid's grandmother, Mrs. SanAngelo. She was a crass old Italian lady- never nice to anyone and she had a mouth like a sailor and a big mole on her wrinkled face. I didn't want to tell her that I had a loose lizard in my house, just wanted to feel her out and she if she had any experience with catching lizards. Coyly I asked, "Are you good at catching Iguanas?". As if she even knew what an Iguana was! I finally admitted that I needed her help and she was nice enough to help. She grabbed several pairs of oven mitts, some empty shoe boxes, a spatula and some tongs and we headed back to my house, all the while muttering "Why in Hell would anyone want a GD lizard for a pet?". Everyone got a pair of mitts and a shoe box and we went in hunt of the lizard, with Mrs. SanAngelo screaming obsenities at the lizard the whole time: "come here, you little bastard", etc. Suddenly the roles were reversed-- the Iguana was chasing us and we were doing our best to keep it away. At one point, Mrs. SanAngelo instructed us to put the f***ing cage on the ground and maybe Iggy would hop into on his own. He didn't, he just kept chasing us through the house- occasionaly running across the piano keys and making his own joyful noise as he hissed and stuck his tongue out at us.
About an hour later, Mom pulled up. As she walked into the house, she found 6 kids (ages 5-10) and a foul-mouthed Italian Senior Citizen running for their lives. Then Mom saw Iggy- the bright green lizard was sitting on one of the cushions of Mom's brand new, crushed-velvet white sofa. Mom grabbed the beast and threw it into the plastic cage. But-- Iggy wouldn't go easily. he grabbed onto the sides of the cage with his four little claw-like feet. Mom gave him a karate chop to the back and he fell into the cage and the lid was quickly in place. Iggy would never know freedom again, but he seemed content to live the rest of his short life eating dead flies and looking at us with his huge eyes- all the while I'm sure he was plotting his big escape- dreaming of playing the piano again and sitting on the white sofa in peace.