Wimp isn’t a word that comes to mind when I think about myself, but perhaps I need to rethink that. We live in the campagna, country and have grown accustomed to the many creatures that share this space. After all, they were here long before we were, so we have created an amicable agreement about limits and how we can best get along together. The variety of critters includes cinghiale, wild boar, capriolo, deer, lupo, wolf, and istrice, porcupine to name just a few. As in life, where the little things are often the most difficult, so it is with me and lucertola—the dreaded lizard.
Late last night I was in the kitchen fixing dinner, looking forward to a relaxing meal outside under the arbor, when a strange thing happened. As I was tending the chicken and pasta, I turned to see Piru, the neighbors cat running into the kitchen through the open door. Her white body flashed in the semi-darkness of the dimly lit kitchen and the candlelight outside. Over my shoulder I shouted “Piru, no!” She loves to sneak in and hide from me, forcing a difficult search. This night was no different except, she had a strangely aggressive look in her eyes. Then, it dawned on me that she might have been chasing something—I decided to check.
Sure enough, there on the other side of the table I found it! Right where the wall and floor meet was a lurking lizard. Now this wasn’t just any lizard. I had seen him several times the day before hanging around under the roses. I don’t really mind a normal size lizard, but this guy was anything but average—he was the Shaquille O’Neal of the lizard world. Small is usually cute, but when you enlarge it three or four times the cuteness morphs into something shocking and somewhat frightening—at least for me. I’m talking here about a mutant lizard. Furthermore, his color was an iridescent green that nearly glowed in the dark . . . and that’s not okay.
Fortunately, I was just beginning to slice some bread so I had my very large serrated bread knife in hand. Suddenly, I felt a surge of confident energy and began wielding the knife like a sword. Just that quick, I became a Ninja kitchen warrior unwilling to take no for an answer. I was absolutely not going to bed with a mutant lizard loose in the house. I knew who was going to win this fight.
Now, honestly, I have to tell you that I was actually breaking into a sweat, and my heart was racing dangerously fast for someone my age. A bit out of control, I started swinging my bread sword through the air and making wordless, scary sounds. My first swipe caught him under his disproportionately small lizard leg, flinging him into the rough plastered wall. Then, despite his nasty sticky feet, he slowly slid down into a heap in the corner. He then rallied and started to climb the stone wall behind him, but I slashed at his rubbery back sending him slapping onto the floor under the radiator. Crouching down with the knife sideways, glistening in the candlelight, I made one grand sweeping motion like throwing a frisbee and out the door he went. Fortunately, Piru was obedient, but anxiously awaiting her prey. We were like tag team wrestlers in a championship match. Within minutes she had worked him over by swatting, flipping, biting and playing with him in true cat style. The lizard was dead! Bringing everything from the table inside, and dousing the candles, I decided that in honor of the giant slain lizard I would forgo any undue dinner pomp. I ate inside, alone in silence.
I actually have a history of run-ins with lizards. There was the time I found one standing on tiptoe, perched on my pillow looking at me—that was a complete and utter breach of private space and so I had to beat him with a broom. There was another incident years later when a crazed lizard tried to jump from a 3 foot high stone wall into my pants, but that’s another story altogether.
Today, the sun is shining, a cool breeze is blowing and I have resumed my normal life as if nothing had ever happened—with sweet Piru at my side.
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