Friday, January 25, 2008

The Fierce Ants

Editor's Note:

Last week, I posted the now infamous story about how my wife accidentally wiped her butt with a lizard. This week, I decided to post the story that almost ran instead. Each week, I usually take one theme, build a couple of variations and decide at the last minute which mood or narrative I want to take. Last week, I decided to use Florida's wildlife as a metaphor for the alienation my family is feeling. I ultimately chose to go with a humorous (but very true) slant, but I also used the same wildlife to evoke a slightly different flavor. You can decide if I made the correct editorial decision. Or conversely, you could just decide that I'm a pretentious bastard. Do with it what you will.


Two weeks ago, my family and I moved to Florida from Virginia. I lived in Florida when I was a boy and we've visited many times in recent years, but I'd forgotten just how different Florida is. Take the lizards, for instance.

In Virginia, we didn't have lizards. In Florida, multi-colored lizards cling to a trees and windows just about everywhere you look. We didn't have fire ants in Virginia either - just the regular kind that don't bite.

Here in Florida, we see people demonstrating against illegal immigrants. There wasn't much of that in Virginia, really. We had illegal immigrants, for sure, but something is different about the immigration issue in Florida. In our new town, protesters picket the building where illegal immigrants, mostly Guatemalan, gather to get day work. Most of the protesters carry signs and a few carry video cameras so they can film the employers who hire the illegal immigrants.

I saw a video on YouTube where one protester actually filmed the license plate of an employer and told him that he could find the video on an immigration enforcement Web site. Eventually, the person being filmed physically confronted the guy with the camera.

It's not just the ants that bite in Florida.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Inflated Dewlaps

Two weeks ago, my family and I moved to Florida from Virginia. I lived in Florida when I was a boy and we've visited many times in recent years, but I'd forgotten just how different Florida is. In Florida, for instance, you hear people speaking Spanish twenty times a day. You rarely heard Spanish in Virginia. And you know what else I rarely heard?

My wife screaming in terror and disgust.

But here in Florida, we have lizards - which means that I get to hear my wife's terrified screams every couple of days.

At first, I thought Bridget was overreacting. When they're mating or threatened, lizards naturally seek to make themselves seem larger and stronger - which explains why lizards strike aggressive intimidating poses whenever you see one.

I suspect that, in humans, this may also explain the Hair Club for Men.

But lizard poses barely bother my wife. The lizards could inflate and deflate their dewlaps all day long without ever causing my wife to scream. What bothers my wife is the lizards' insistence that they run over her feet in the dark. This has happened to her four times in two weeks. It has not happened to me at all. My wife thinks that the leathery lizards are deliberately targeting her. And she may be right.

This morning, the lizards escalated.

I heard my wife's horrible scream coming from our bathroom at 8 a.m. Her scream sounded so terrible that I didn't suspect a lizard at first. I heard her second scream and her uncontrollable sobbing when I was halfway to the bathroom. I expected to find something horrific - blood or something. There was no blood, but something horrific had happened.

I want to explain this delicately because my wife reads this blog. Unfortunately, "delicate" usually gets in the way of "funny" and I can't have that. So here goes:

A small lizard decided to cling to the toilet paper in our bathroom this morning at roughly the same time my wife decided to urinate.

You can probably figure out the rest. There is, however, no fun in that and I've decided to describe the incident. To be delicate, I'm using nothing but verbs.

Cling. Wipe. Wiggle. Scream. Wiggle. Jump. Scream. Cry. Run. Laugh.

To be fair, that last verb was not the lizard or my wife. That was me.

My wife was still shaking when I took her to work this morning. In the front yard, I saw maybe three lizards on branches smugly inflating and deflating their dewlaps.

What's a dewlap? It's a flap of skin just under the throat that lizards puff up to attract mates. It may also explain some women that I saw at the mall.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Gahusbander

I realized something this last holiday season.

Christmas parties scare me.

To begin with, I'm uncomfortable with Turducken - and Turducken is way popular at holiday parties lately. As an American, I understand its appeal. It's three foods in one - turkey stuffed with chicken that's been stuffed with duck. It's like a Transformer you can eat.

But if I eat it - and my stomach is stuffed with Turducken - am I now potentially part of this greasy, edible Russian nesting doll? Have I essentially become a Grim Turducken?

I think about these things a lot.

Here's the other thing about holiday parties that truly scares me: the dancing.

Every husband knows how the holiday party works. Our job is to dress up in uncomfortable ties and eat mounds of finger food while sprinkling awkward pauses into random conversations. And, at some point during the night, we are contractually bound to dance once with our wives. Although this annual dance is mandatory, we do have the option of waiting for a slow dance. Since we only learned one dance in high school, it's a great option.

Inevitably, though, at least one wife has brought a husband who actually likes to dance.

We hate this guy.

Not only does this guy like to dance, he likes to dress, too. He's the guy wearing cologne and a tie pin. His shoes are polished and he got a hair cut specifically for this party. If one of the women decides to bust out some karaoke, he's down for it. He knows the Hustle, The Electric Slide and the Cha Cha Cha Slide.

He's not really a husband. He's a husband stuffed inside of a dancer stuffed inside of platonic gay friend. He's a gahusbander.

And once the gahusbander starts dancing, things start to go downhill. The wives, who have contented themselves by dancing with other wives, now start to glare at the sullen husbands nervously discussing golf and NASCAR. And the wives begin to resent us.

Panic sets in with most husbands at this point. If you combine women, alcohol, years of pent-up dance moves and a gahusbander, you are maybe five minutes from an explosion of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive."

And sure enough, that's how most of these parties end - with the wives dancing together, glaring at the husbands and lip-synching meaningfully in their direction:

"But I spent so many nights thinking how you done me wrong and I grew strong; I learned how to get along."

And the gahusbander? His work is done at this point. He's licking his fingers at the food table. And he's probably eating Turducken.