Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Saint George and the Lizard

You know that telephone call that you dread? It comes when you least expect it. It came the night before last. Our friend Saint George (not his real name) called with an emergency. I immediately put the television on mute, sensing the urgent nature of the call to The Hubs’ cell phone. OK, I was nosy too.

It’s just that emergency phone calls from Saint George’s house might be anything from an invitation to dinner to his youngest son’s latest stand-up comedy routine. You can’t beat comedy from an 11-year-old.

But, no. This was a different kind of emergency.
It seems Saint George had thought to treat his oldest son’s pet lizard to a bit of afternoon sunshine, something that doesn’t always happen in San Francisco in July. After the lizard spent the afternoon in what appeared to be spa-like luxury, it ate a hearty meal of a jumbo cricket, went to sleep and, well, you guessed it. The lizard shuffled off its mortal coil.
After some nudging and prompting, Saint George had to admit he probably had slain the dragon, even if it was a 6-inch Western Fence Lizard. Wracked with shame as any father might be at the accidental demise of a child’s pet, even if the child is 17 and probably knows everything (just ask), Saint George called my husband.

Naturally, you’d think of my husband when you have a dead lizard emergency. He’s that kind of guy. The surprise was that the call wasn’t about what to do with the lizard. Mrs. Saint (actually that has to be her real name because that adorable woman has three sons and Saint George to deal with day in, day out) and I would probably agree on a simple trashcan-over the cliff into the hedges-flush it down the toilet disposal arrangement. A moment of silence might be warranted.

No, the emergency was that Saint George needed parenting advice from my husband, a man who has raised no children through no fault of his own or want of trying. The Hubs of course does have a heart as big as all outdoors and an easily shared font of suggestions. This is why he’s the guy you call with your lizard emergency.

I had some sympathy. After all, where in the parenting magazines or websites, where in the psychology books, in the instruction manual that comes with every child, where, I ask you, does it say how to break the news of the death of a pet lizard to a creative, sensitive, cranky, hair-triggered 17-year-old?

Saint George had a moral dilemma. Should he confess his reptile negligence and insensitivity and admit up front that he probably killed the lizard, mysterious as the death was? Or was a cover-up called for?

I voted for cover-up, especially after I did a quick internet search on the proposed lifespan of a Western Fence Lizard in captivity. First, let’s get the legalities out of the way. It’s not an endangered species, well, not in general. I’m not sure I’d let Saint George lizard-sit for me. Then again, I don’t have a lizard.

As it turns out, if Fluffy—I call it Fluffy because I don’t know the lizard’s real name and there are probably HIPAA laws about releasing a specific lizard’s health issues to the general public—if Fluffy were a boy lizard, he would have rather an intense blue underbelly. If Fluffy were a girl, she would make more subtle fashion choices. There are several sub-species of the Fence Lizard, which turned out to be too much information for me, but one of the things they like doing is hanging out on fences and rocks in the sun.

This characteristic seemed to point to the innocence of my client, Saint George, who was still inconsolable or at least still in a quandary about the right way to handle the dead lizard thing. Fluffy probably enjoyed its moments in the sun.

“Seriously,” I called to The Hubs across the living room, “the prisoner exercised in the yard, ate a hearty meal, and, if you’ll excuse the expression, croaked.”

The Hubs waved me away, trying to keep from crying and laughing at the same time. We did, however, have the same idea on next steps. Put Fluffy and his habitat back in Number One Son’s room and wait for the disappointing discovery.

“Are you sure it’s dead?”

I read further in Wikipedia.

“They hibernate! Maybe Fluffy had the big warm up, ate the big cricket and is taking a big snooze instead of the Big Sleep.”

Saint George assured us that the lizard was pretty darned dead. I wasn’t sure we were giving the box-seats coaching advice we had been called for.

The call was over. I had missed something.

“Hey, what happened? Is he going to just put Fluffy back in the kid’s room or what?”

“No,” The Hubs harrumphed. “He’s going to call him and tell him!”

We rolled our eyes. It was asking to be berated by a 17-year-old. I mean really, how close can a kid and his Western Fence Lizard be, anyway? Did it fetch? Did it photobomb with the family? Did they have matching leather jackets? Did it whistle or tap-dance?

“WAIT!” we both said at the same time.

“Who’s the patron saint of lizards?” The Hubs asked me. I know stuff like this.

“Saint George, of course. You know, Saint George and the dragon?” After all, like all patron saints, perhaps a small donation to a worthy charity might bring about a Lazarus-like lizard miracle.

“Right,” he said, dialing our distraught daddy-friend back. “SAINT GEORGE!”

It was, of course, too late. Our friend just happens to be the nicest guy besides my husband and felt morally compelled. He had immediately called Number One Son and told him The Awful Truth, just like the Knight of Swords riding off to vanquish evil and stand for truth, justice and the American Way.

“Well, shoot,” I pouted after The Hubs got off the phone the second time. I was waiting for the surprise Facebook postings upon the awful discovery, the hunt for the perpetrator, the whole drama.

Coincidentally, one of our tarot community members, tarot creator Ciro Marchetti, however, did provide the best little ever-so-slightly Photoshopped snap of an iguana who had wandered into the open back door of his Florida home. I sent it to Saint George’s Number Two Son who had stood by quietly in all the drama and snickered the way the middle child can at such events. Perhaps this will cheer the crepe-draped halls while they heal from the loss.

I hear they are thinking of getting a snake now.
Best wishes.


My deepest sympathies to the community of Aurora, Colorado, and all affected by the recent horror there. To all the responders who helped, shielded and comforted those who were there, and to Christian Bale for visiting hospitalized victims of the shooting, thank you.


  1. This was a wonderful story. Thank you. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  2. I have been looking for some sites that feature online about tarot and I stumbled across your blog. You seem to be an expert in these things and I just love the vibe of your words. Will look forward to your future posts.

  3. Thank. It makes me feel great when I read all these stories. It helps me from hopelessness and make me more stronger to fly… thank… for everything.