Last night LAFD employed 2 large firetrucks and 8 heroes to rescue me and my family from a wild animal. No one was injured and the animal was removed and returned to its natural habitat. My home, however, will never be the same.
Let me explain.
The children were in the bath. My husband, at work. I was in the dining room picking the spaghetti dinner off the floor when suddenly I was face to face with a ferocious… snake? Iguana? Small Japanese dragon?
Its head was green, its chin pointy, its eyes large and alert. Its arms were thick and strong and fully extended making it stand erect. It was longer than a Barbie doll but smaller than a rocking horse. Its tail was at least a foot long, blue-green metallic.
We had a stare down. I broke away to grab a broom from the closet and open the back door hoping to shoo it out. While I fumbled around in a state of focused panic, it waited for me–fierce, committed. I shook the broom menacingly. It slithered like a snake. Yes, it had legs but that thing slithered like a snake into the playroom. Opposite direction of the open door. Further embedded into my house.
The girls were yelling for more bubbles in the bath. “I’ll be right there!” I hollered back all sing-song. Keep cool. Protect the children.
Give me spiders fuzzy and black, give me cockroaches, give me ants… but do not give me reptiles. Dammit to hell do not give me reptiles. Nor rodents. No, don’t give me those either. And a possum, that would be nasty too. No marsupials. Don’t give me any of that shit.
I dialed my husband at work. I fake-calmly told him that a snake-like creature was in the house.
“Does it have a rattle?”
“No rattle. But it’s big.”
“How big is it?”
“Real big. This is no gecko.”
He said he’d start driving home right away.
I only hope the LAFD responds to all life and death situations as quickly as they responded to my 911 call. As soon as the fire truck pulled up I thought– good thing I snapped a photo of it before it hid so they’ll know what they’re looking for. I flipped my camera open. Oh, no. No, no. This isn’t right. This lens doesn’t have zoom. This photo does not properly depict the ferocity of the enemy. THIS DOES NOT CAPTURE THE REALITY OF THE SITUATION AT ALL.
I shoved the camera behind a bag of chips and ran to open the door.
Fireman Dan sauntered into the playroom.
“Does it have a rattle?”
“How about feet?”
“It does have feet. But it’s a lot bigger than a gecko. It’s not a gecko.”
Please don’t be a gecko, I prayed.
I told him I last saw it slither under a wheeled toy box. He calmly lifted the box. “There he is. Aww, come here, boy.”
At that moment 7 more fire-fighters walked in. Giants, dressed in full-fire-fighting regalia, smoke-stained from battling burning buildings and saving lives, they walk in just in time to see Fireman Dan holding up the captured reptile. It certainly looked much smaller when it was coiled in his beefy hand than when it was staring me in the face. Much smaller.
“What is that? A salamander?” one of them snickered.
No! Isn’t that something you put on a salad?
“Actually, it’s an Alligator Lizard,” Fireman Dan said.
Alligator Lizard! Now we’re talking! That is soooo not a gecko! It sounds quite terrifying, actually. A cousin of the alligator. When I recount this story to my husband and friends they will only hear ‘alligator’ and they will think me so very, very brave. A mama lion shielding her cubs from the deadly alligator lizard. (I’ll just trail off when I say the lizard part.)
I thanked them and apologized (but not too much, the children were near and they mustn’t think me weak). Moments after they left, my husband’s friend opened the door. “Jonathan called me. He said you had an animal in the house?”
My husband is no dummy. Instead of facing the vicious reptile I had described, he tried to get it taken care of before he arrived. Clever. One of the many reasons I married him.
When he finally got home we laughed at my story. But then, between chuckles, he tells me his friend said it costs $1500 each time they “roll” a fire truck in LA. Two trucks, $3000. I had made a $3000 call that you, the taxpayers will absorb. Single mothers. Poor people. Sick people. People who manage life and lizards and much more all by themselves every day. I hung my head in shame.
So this afternoon I stopped by the fire station to thank the men for their service and to see what volunteer opportunities were available. When I would do this volunteer work I hadn’t figured out yet. I have no time. I barely leave the house showered and dressed in the morning. But I would make it work. I would find the time. I had to show my kids that I could be accountable for my actions.
But first I would fact check that bit about the cost of rolling a truck.
The fire captain was very kind. ”Oh, you’re… the lizard. I read your report.”
“Yeah, I’m a little embarrassed about it.”
I tell him I do not want my call to be a burden on the city.
He looks at me and smiles. ”Probably cost $4 max for fuel.”
Did I mention that I love firemen?
$4 in gas. Which I’ve already made up for simply by keeping my children out of the prison system and by leasing a hybrid SUV.
Still, next time I have to protect my family from the wild animal kingdom… I might reach for the shovel instead of the phone.