Reptile Man

So back to the boring thing at the coffee shop. (I know! One of my favorite readers suggested, in the kindest way possible, that I stop writing about being boring, but, well, they always say to write what you know… ) So these two men at the next table, maybe about 50 years old-ish, were talking about their pets.

At first it seemed like an actual conversation, and like they were talking about dogs. But upon closer inspection, it turned out that one person was doing all of the talking, and the other person was doing all the head nodding and all the saying “uh huh”. Which was fine for a while, especially when it seemed like the one guy was talking about a dog. Saying things like, “He was a little shy when I first rescued him, but he got used me. But then the little guy took a good bite out of me, went clear to the bone, ripped the flesh pretty good. [Don’t you hate it when people say pretty good for things that are really not good at all?] He was just teaching me a lesson, I guess.”

Okay, so I kept listening because that just seems freaky, like, don’t they euthanize dogs that do that? And it wasn’t just me; I could see that C., whom I was sitting with and was so happy to see because it had been a while, had also stopped writing and was giving me the look, that look of, OMG, did you hear that? A little bit horrified, and also, a little bit “We're rich! There’s material falling all over the place!” That’s the look she was giving me.

As I listened further, I realized that his pet is actually a monitor lizard. Yes, in case you’re not up to speed on your reptiles, this is the group that includes the komodo dragon, which is the sort of reptile that took a bite out of Sharon Stone’s husband’s foot (that's hard to say aloud, Sharon Stone's husband's foot, although for a few days, people were saying it a lot.) But anyway, remember how she arranged that special birthday outing for him, a trip into the cage of a komodo dragon, and his feet looked like white mice or something? I’m thinking most men married to Sharon Stone would be hoping for other sorts of birthday surprises, but, well, anyway, back to the story. Did I already mention how this guy carried a small photo album with pictures of his lizards? Yes, more than one lizard. Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t know any guys who carry photo albums around at all. When I thought it was pictures of a dog, it seemed kind of freaky-sweet, but I dunno. With just the lizards, I am inclined to drop the “sweet”.

So this guy keeps talking on and on, monologue-ish, causing me to be struck by one thing: there are people on the planet that can take the most amazing, strange story, and suck the life out of it until you wish they’d just stop.

What happened to this guy is what happens in all stories: a stranger came to town. But this stranger was a 7-foot long predatory, carnivorous reptile that roams free in this man's house with the other lizards (iguanas and such), and it took a chunk out of his arm. That’s a reasonable start on a story, I’d say. I’d definitely turn the page.

But he just mentioned that in passing, and then went on and on about the different types of lizards, and their habitat requirements, and did that repetitive thing too. “You’ve gotta keep a spot with a lamp for them, keep that at about a hundred degrees, but everywhere doesn’t need to get that warm. They eat lettuce too, like, can you picture a chef’s salad, the size of it? And he does a motion: right hand flat, palm up as if holding a plate, and left hand moves in a semi-circle arc over the upturned palm to indicate a big salad. The other guy had been basically silent for many minutes, but when the salad came up, saw an inroad, and said, “Oh, I would like a big chef’s salad like that!” But lizard man stole the conversation back, “The iguana is pretty well mannered, she almost uses the pool area like a little toilet, she’ll poop in there. Monitor lizards ,though, they’re meat eaters. There’s 30 or 40 kinds of iguana, (followed by a list of them.) The listener interrupts, and says, um, yeah, I don’t really know about that, I’ve just seen them in the zoo.”

But the guy keeps going, “theres the spiny tailed iguana, and the ….Yeah, and like I said, you’ve gotta have a warm spot, a hundred degrees for them.  But you gotta watch out, certain times of year they get aggressive. It’s almost like they go into a blackout, they’ll start clawing you to pieces"  Yes. he actually said that, but quickly looped back to the bit about the warm spot. Who would do that?

I’m just wondering if people are trying to be boring? Because it just seems wrong, to have all that material, and then just basically piss all over it. I am not for it, all this boring-ness, possibly because it hits a little close to home.  If I had a lizard taking large chunks of my flesh out, and exposing the bone, you can be sure this blog would be way more exciting, and I would  definitely not write a list of types of lizards.  Sheesh.  I may actually have to get a dangerous pet just for the material.

Speaking of boring, as I've mentioned, I've become increasingly concerned that, well, yes, that I AM boring.  So I picked one of my favorite very boring colleagues, and we've been competing lately, asking everyone, "hey, who's more boring, me or him?"  And sadly, I'm losing.  Unless you count the janitor, who, when we asked, started fumbling for a quarter and something about needing to go buy a coke.  I'm pretty sure he meant that I'm less boring, but that's as close as I got to winning.

The reason it's so sad can be summed up in this example of the person who is less boring than me.  His day, yesterday:  get up at 3:00 a.m.  For no particular reason.  Arrive at work by 6.  Work.  Go to the gym at lunch.  Wednesday, legs day, focus on strengthening the legs.  Work in the afternoon.  Go to gym after work.  Home, and in bed by 8.  Oh, and let me point out that this was his birthday, during which he spent a great deal of time wandering around saying, "you guys should do that thing where you pass around a card for me and everyone puts money in it. Did anyone get that going?"  Yes, this is the competition, and I'm losing.  (Thursday, in case you're wondering, is arms day.)


  1. There was an ongoing competition, hotly contested, as to who could make the single most boring observation. –Lev Grossman, The Magicians


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