Monday, August 12, 2013

Every Fucking Day with Bernie

Hi  World,


When Teenager-who-lives-in-the-basement (TWLITB) was much younger, he begged me for a pet lizard. Many times over, I said no.  I was consistent about it.  I didn't say "maybe", I didn't say "When you are older", I didn't say "If you promise to take care of it".  I just said no. Reptiles creep me out.  I sure didn't want one living in my house.

One weekend, TWLITB went to visit his Dad.  He called me from the pet store.  "Guess what, Mom!  Dad said he'd buy me a lizard if you say it's ok and I found one I like, he's so cute, Mom.  Can I? CanIcanIcanIcanI?  Can I?"

Oy.  I  didn't see that one coming.  What do you DO in a situation like that?  Be the bad, mean Mom who never lets anyone do anything or have anything that makes them happy? Unlike Fun Dad (FD)? Or do I become the unfairly bamboozled and therefore bitter Mom who knows without a doubt she'll be taking care of this dumb lizard for the next however many years while FD plays golf in another state?

How long do lizards live, anyway?  Like two years?  Five years?  Oh.  Twenty years.

TWLITB  brought his new pets home and 30 seconds were spent admiring the tiny alligators in their new place of residence on top of TWLITB's bureau.  FD forgot to mention that he splurged on two lizards. Apparently, lizards need companions.  I was thinking the lizards could eat apples and table scraps.  I was not anticipating the bi-weekly purchase of live crickets.  I took TWLITB to the pet store to get some "food" for his new pets.  I was extra nice to the people in the pet store because I figured we'd be getting to know each other pretty well over the next twenty years.

"Now TWLITB", I said, "Feeding these lizards is going to be your responsibility.  And you'll need to change their water regularly, too.  You know that, right?"

"I love these  lizards, Mom. I'm going to take great care of them. Don't worry"

TWLITB fed them once, and after watching the lizards attack and gobble all the live crickets as they desperately looked for a place to hide, he immediately lost interest in  them. As foreseen in  the deck of Mother Tarot I carry in my head, lizard care was transferred into my incapable hands.

The first lizard died a couple months later.  We  saved the second lizard with an IV.  He barely made it. To say I was upset is an understatement.  My whole argument against having pets was that I had too many kids and plants that I was barely keeping alive.  The last thing I needed, in those years, was two more lives on my hands.  I resolved to take better care of the remaining lizard.  I also decided to give him  a new name because I could  not remember what TWLITB had originally named him.  I renamed him "Wizard".
Wizard the (Pinball) Lizard.  Catchy, right?

The (Pinball) Wizard and I meandered along for another few years.  I managed to keep him fed and watered and alive. He still existed in a tank in TWLITB's room.  I cringed when I thought about what his life must be like, but he kept growing, and shedding his skin, and growing.  I had to assume that I wasn't totally sucking, but I continued to put feelers out to the lizard adoption community to see if I could find him a new home.  In the meantime, I got chummy with the pet store folks.  We bonded over American Idol and cat memes.  Then littleb was born.

Littleb truly loves animals-both imaginary and real.  By the time littleb was three,  we had a menagerie of assorted pets, mostly invisible. As soon as he could talk, he re-named The Wizard, "Bernie", and the name stuck. Littleb enthusiastically participated in trips to the pet store, where he was soon offered a part-time position as a pet petter.  He helped feed Bernie and change his water.  He enjoyed watching Bernie consume his meals, which was, in truth, a little worrisome.  Eventually, littleb earned a goldfish he promptly named Goldie, and he found himself dividing his time between Bernie and Goldie. It was a lot for a four-year-old, and Bernie suffered for it.

In 2012, two things happened.  Goldie the Goldfish passed away and I took up yoga.  Littleb had more time and I developed a heightened gratefulness for all living things, not to mention increased flexibility.  Bernie's sad existence in TWLITB's room, long since abandoned by TWLITB in favor of the basement, began to weigh on my (enlightened) conscience.  I worried that Bernie was too isolated and, as a result, depressed.  We decided to make Bernie's senior years more enjoyable by moving him to a sunny new condo in our pantry.  Bernie's new digs had amazing views of our driveway, not to mention our smoking hot new Camry, and in the first several months he shed and grew three times.  Bernie developed a new lease on life.

Every day, when I got  home from work, Bernie was there to greet me and talk about my day.  Unlike BigB, who couldn't stop interjecting with a whiny,  "Let me tell you about MY day", Bernie was an excellent listener.  Also, Bernie provided moral support as I went about my daily chores.  He was there for me during the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry folding, etc.  It was more support than I typically got from the other males in the house.

It wasn't all fun and games with Bernie and I.  Bernie could be a little boring, for one thing.  He was so quiet, there were times when I wondered whether he was really listening.  Also, watching  him eat was painful.   And the skin shedding drove me up the wall.  Who needs a new skin every three months, puhleeze?  But Bernie was there for me and I was there for him.

Bernie passed away in March, 2013.

Bernie,  wherever you are (I suspect the ocean), I am sorry you never got to feel another warm spring sun.  I'm sorry your diet consisted of gross things but I hope you enjoyed them. Thank you for teaching me that reptiles are also God's creatures and thank you for your company all those lonely nights when my boys were off doing stupid boy things.  I'll always remember you fondly. And the next time FD offers to buy one of my kids a pet, I'll say, "YES!  What a marvelous idea.  As long as he lives at Dad's house."  That  wisdom is the legacy you left me, Bernie.  You will be missed.

Chicken out


R.I.P. Bernie  2002-2012

No comments:

Post a Comment

Say something. You know you want to.