Thursday, February 19, 2009


The recent ugliness with the chimpanzee rampage made me think of a time not too long ago when I had iguanas.

It started innocently enough, for my birthday my girlfriend at the time gave me this tiny little iguana. It was probably only about 6 inches long and it was mostly tail.

It was not surprising that I fell in love with the little thing and named him Igor (I became convinced later that he was a she- you can hardly tell). What was surprising was that Igor lived, surviving cat encounters, escape attempts and even a broken leg. Small iguanas are hard to catch and very delicate.

A couple of years went by and Igor got to be pretty big. After he crossed the 3 ft barrier it became difficult to contain him and it seemed unusually cruel. An animal that was born to live in trees and climb was reduced to a pet that could only live in a cage. It seemed terribly unfair, so I opened the door and declared Igor a free range reptile, and Igor could go where ever he wished.

Some days he would sit in the palm tree in the front window and just stare out all day. I always wondered what he was thinking, maybe he didn't think, but he did want out. He would try to climb the windows, and he would jump onto the window shades, but that couldn't be as much fun as really climbing the trees he could see from his perch.

Every once in a while, he would crawl off and hide for a couple of days. He usually did this when there was bad weather like hurricanes. Sometimes you just could not find him, other times I would pat down my clothes in my closest and there would be a big lump in the middle, and there he would be, looking at me like I had just ruined the perfect nap.

When Amy and I started dating, Igor was part of the picture. She could not be with me without Igor. Amy was a good sport and tolerated him, but he did freak her out a few times. Igor would sometimes crawl across the bed at night go hide in the closet. His path would cut right across the foot of the bed, and anyone's feet who happened to be under the covers. Amy did not like this...

The funniest story about Igor has to be the time that Amy met up with Igor in the closet. Amy had just gotten out of the shower and went to the closet to pick out her clothes. She reached up and grabbed the light cord but it was stuck. So she looked up and gave the cord a good yank. The light came on and she was nose to nose with Igor who was sitting on top of the bar that was holding the clothes. She let out a blood curdling scream that the whole neighborhood had to have heard! I knew right away what was going on and just fell out laughing. I don’t know why, but she never has thought that story was funny.

Amazingly, through all of this Amy still agreed to marry me.

Amy and I decided that we should get a real house about the same time we got married. My only demand was that we had to have an iguana room and then I would agree to stop the free range reptile park that we had at the rental house. Another reason for this was the fact that by this time I had acquired a second iguana- Ivanna (the old girlfriend that gave me Igor was able to guilt me into taking the one she kept- I am a sucker).

Shortly after moving in and getting set up in the new house, I was presented with a 3rd iguana and was thinking I should apply for zoo status. All 3 iguanas were large, over 4 ft long, and as heavy as a regular sized cat.

When my iguanas got angry they could bite and break the skin. They also had long sharp claws and could easily shred the skin on your arms. The iguanas’ tails were thick and muscular and if you were not paying attention, they would whip you with them and aim right for your face. It hurt! Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of keeping iguanas, because you really can never be sure that you are safe, is that they are carriers of salmonella.

I was devastated when Igor died. Not too long after that, Ivanna died and I was so upset that it forced me to send the 3rd temporary iguana tenant back to his real home, because I just couldn't deal with iguanas any longer. The Iguana Hotel closed.

My iguanas died because even though I tried to give them the best life I could, I could not give them what their natural habitat could give them. Emotionally, I was very attached to my iguanas, but the reality was they did not belong in a house with people. At best, they only ever tolerated me. They belonged in a tropical environment, not suburban Virginia Beach.

A chimpanzee is different than an iguana, or even three. A chimp is social, and trainable, but in the end, it is still a wild animal that is incredibly strong. I am sorry that people were hurt because of the chimp's rampage in this article, but is it the chimp's fault? Seriously, the woman gave the chimp Xanax to calm him down. Why did she not have a real backup plan? I am thinking a taser with a range of 15 feet, a tranquilizer gun, and definitely pepper spray for everyday protection (if it will stop a grizzly bear I think it will make a chimp pause). I am pretty sure I would also get a gun, and generally I don’t believe in having them in my home.

To sum up, wild animals should not leave the wild. Love your animals, but never forget they are wild. If you have a choice, don't bring them into your home, and don’t support people who profit by placing animals where they do not belong.

Monday, February 9, 2009


I didn't start out to be a lawbreaker, it snuck up on me. You might not be able to see that I am a criminal when you meet me, but I am a criminal. I do look kind of shady if I haven't shaved for a couple of days.

As any real, hardened, criminal will tell you, society made me this way. I want to be a law abiding citizen. I just can't do it.

The truth is that I have expired inspection stickers on both of my vehicles. I am tired of being ashamed of this transgression against society. I am not proud of my illegal activities. I have just decided to accept that this is the way things are in my world.

I don't know what the penalty for driving a minivan that is 3 months past due on the state car inspection, but I imagine a pistol whipping as part of the arresting procedure. If the police found out I had 2 cars that were 3 months past due, I might be locked up for years.

Driving these vehicles around makes me feel like Bond, James Bond. The theme plays in head as scan the area for law enforcement. Luckily, my cars seem to be invisible. I don't remember requesting the Stealth coating from the dealership. It could be that the police have seen the stickers, but my old blue mini van and beat up Jimmy, that has paint flaking off the hood, just make them laugh.

Sure, you could call me a procrastinator, but I have to blame society for my criminal activity for 3 reasons;

1. Society says that I must work. This kills 5 days every week for car inspections and leaves only one day for this to be done. Inspections are done only in the mornings in all places that I have ever been to, and if you leave your car over night it complicates getting everyone where they need to be and involves friends, relatives and public transportation.

If I don't work, my family would need welfare and we would be a burden to society.

2. Society also says that in order to be a good parent you must sign your children up for all kinds of sports, lessons and after school activities. Over the span of a week, Amy and I get 15 mins of sit down time a day before 8:30 pm. Seriously.

I have to be the best parent I can be, for my children.

3. Our society is also a consumer based economy. Everyone is trying to make a sale and cars are always about to fall apart (according to the guys I always talk to). This coupled with the fact that I know nothing about cars makes me dread taking my car anywhere near an official state inspector. I can never leave any kind of car shop without a bill of over $300, and the feeling that I have just been violated. If it was just the $15 an inspection is supposed to be, and take only 20mins to complete, there would be no lawbreaking here.

If there are any trustworthy car places that do inspections and won't try to rob you, please share!

Amy and I joked that the only days we might be able to get the cars inspected would be in April during our spring break. We laughed our most villainous laughs while flipping through the calendar, and planned our most devious methods of detection avoidance. Now if I can just keep my car alarm from drawing any unwanted attention- I'll be all set!

Inspection sticker target dates, April 11th- 18th.
I have been thinking about getting a tattoo. Something that sums up my life in tribal lettering.