This was certainly not the swingin’ Saturday night I’d hoped for.
My roommate was out with her boyfriend and some of his friends. They didn’t even think to ask me along. I guess I would have been the nerd wheel. I didn’t quite fit in. I was in Austin but not enrolled in the university that semester.
As I surfed channels, I pondered adding some excitement by heading to the laundry room. Doing the laundry was the only thing I could think of to keep me from going to bed at eight. What might I find in that room on a Saturday night? Might there be some wet underthingys clinging to the drum of a washer? Maybe there would be some discarded jeans of unknown cleanliness on the counter. There was a guarantee that I’d be fighting the mother from next door for my turn with the dryer as she was prone to cooking her clean clothes well past done.
I headed to my room at the back of the apartment and gathered my supplies. Dirty clothes? Check. Quarters? Check. Detergent? Check. Softener? Check. Borax? Check. Basically my basket was more supplies than clothes, and I hauled it downstairs without shame because I knew no other kids my age were home to see me.
Back in my quiet apartment, I headed to my room to return the laundry detergents to their rightful spot in my closet. As I got closer to my room, I saw a lizard on the wall. In the back of the apartment. Between me and my room.
Dear God, how long had it been here? Was it in the carpet as I passed back and forth getting laundry? How close were my feet to his teeny, creepy little toes? (Lizards have toes, right?) I got light headed. Lizards and I are not friends; we are in fact sworn enemies. We’ve battled in El Paso, and we’ve battled in Florida. I was in no mood for another round with them tonight. I tried to slow my breathing because the only thing worse than having a lizard a few feet from your bed, is passing out on the floor and having a lizard crawl on your face.
Hold on. I need to take a break. The memory is making me panicky.
Then, I pulled up my britches and did the bravest thing I could think of; I slowly backed my way into the living room and called my daddy. I’m not sure what I thought he could do because he was in El Paso which felt about a million miles away from Austin that night. He advised me to either try to use a broom to guide it out or to wait until my roommate and her boyfriend came home. Then he wished me good luck, and I was once again on my own.
I sure as hell was not going to let the lizard explore our apartment until my roommate happened home. So, I got out the broom from the kitchen and headed back into the hall. I stood there trying to gather my nerves. Every twitch of his little lizard body made my blood pressure shoot up so that I had to talk myself down from the ledge of hysteria again. During one of these moments of panic, I realized the front door was closed, and it would be tough to open it while also shooing him out and not peeing in my pants. Then again, what if more lizards came in through the open door? I decided to chance it by leaving the door open. It seemed like a sign of hope that this was going to work and work fast.
It did not.
The lizard was not impressed by my sweeping motions. They did not inspire him to head to the door though they did get him onto the carpet and closer to my feet which was super. My next brave step was to actually touch him with the broom to get him going in the right direction. This move was successful in only one way; it made things worse. The broom separated lizard from tail and me from the sliver of calm I had remaining. I burst into tears as the lizard hung out in my carpet completely undisturbed by this new development.
I was sobbing with fear and loneliness. Why didn’t I have anyone to call to come save me from this menace? Why couldn’t I do just one thing without making it worse? The lizard and his stupid flimsy tail had broken me.
But even in my distressed state, I could not handle sharing floor space with a lizard. A voice from deep inside told me that I absolutely had to get that damn thing and its tail out of my apartment before it touched any part of me. And so, my OCD helped me move forward and give it another try.
I grabbed a red Solo cup and a plastic bowl. The bowl went over the lizard, and the cup covered his tail. This bought me time to remember to breathe again. My next step, after another internal pep talk, was to slide a piece of paper under the cup and lift both cup and tail. I walk-ran to the door and threw the whole mess over the railing and into the night.
I knew the lizard would not be as easy and gave myself the biggest pep talk of the night. I’m pretty sure I promised myself a beer once it was over.
I used a nice sturdy piece of paper, the back of a notebook, and gave it a go. The first attempt just pissed him off. I had to recover and refocus. And breathe. The second try was a success. I carried my impromptu cage to the door and set him free.
In front of my neighbor’s door. I needed the dryer later.