Here in South Florida, you pay a price for perpetual warm weather. Half the year you’re on the lookout for hurricanes. The rest of the time you are trying not to murder an invasive species known as French Canadians, who still drive like there are a couple feet of snow on the road.
There are also non-human invasive nuisances. Cockroaches the size of Montana and stinging caterpillars, for example. I have friends from the north who come visit and scream when they see a lizard in my garage. You’d think that by now the Geico spokesreptile would have done something to eliminate their fears, but no.
The same northerners whose hair stands on end when seeing a lizard will practically snuggle up to all the “cute squirrels” in my back yard. I hate squirrels. Shave a squirrel’s tail, and you’ve got a rat. My beef with squirrels is that they eat the avocadoes off my tree when the fruit is the size of a grape. All of them. Every. Single. Avocado. And what is guacamole without avocadoes? Peppered onion lemonade. Enjoy a Dorito with that sometime.
These days, it’s the iguanas that are getting under my skin. Don’t get me wrong; iguanas are fascinating to watch. Some idiots even keep them as pets. They are sort of a link to prehistoric times, but they eat plants, usually the plants you’ve slaved over to keep alive. Far be it for them to munch on a few weeds or French Canadians and gain my respect.
This year we have had one iguana that has been particularly annoying. He is a fat five footer with a long striped tail. Every day this monster will climb a tree, jump on the roof and wander over to the top of the screen enclosure that covers our pool. He will then relieve himself of both number 1 and number 2 and then return to its tree. Such a hostile move, especially since we have been feeding him hibiscus flowers and bougainvillea leaves all of his slithering life.
We have cut down every tree that is close to the house. We have wrapped sheet metal at the base of palm trees to keep the invaders from climbing up them. We have actually studied the diets of iguanas and purchased Purina Iguana Chow to set in a humane trap that this guy, and all other iguanas ignore.
So on New Year’s Day as I was fruitlessly attempting to transfer data from an old phone to a new one, I heard the THUMP on the roof that is all too familiar. I went outside and looked up, and there he was, looking down on me with scorn and superiority. Apparently iguanas are capable of flying from treetops onto roofs.
I’d had enough. I had chased Iggy off the roof before, but it was a new year, and it was time to mobilize. Other Bill grabbed an empty trash can, and I grabbed the push broom and the ladder and ascended to the roof. Bill remained on the ground, posing as a giant basketball hoop, and I intended to brush Iggy down off the roof and score two points into the Rubbermaid. Iggy had other ideas. Iggy sprouted his wings and flew onto a nearby palm tree and started climbing up. I smacked him with the broom, sending him sailing downward, nowhere even close to the Rubbermaid goal. The minute he hit the ground he ran, and Other Bill gave chase. As a quick side note, what do you think of when you hear “Rubber Maid”? It sounds like a latex-themed straight porn movie to me.
Anyway, with the iguana on the run, I figured it was yet another loss. They run too fast for our old knees, so I proceeded to use the push broom to brush some of the shmutz off the roof tiles, because everyone knows I hate to waste an opportunity to do a little cleaning.
But then Bill called victoriously to me from the other side of the house, “I got him!” I found this a little suspicious, because Other Bill is reluctant even to cut up a fryer, and touching a live amphibian is above his pay grade.
I made my way down from the roof, and Other Bill was standing there proudly with the can over the giant wrinkled thing. I got the lid of the can and slid it underneath, and we flipped the can upright, and I folded up the tail and dropped it into the can. Score! High fives all around.
Then we had to figure out what to do with it. It’s illegal to kill them, and besides, the only gun I have is a BB gun (see squirrels, above). When confronted with a BB gun, an iguana will just sit back, light up a Marlboro and bark out a grizzly-throated, Suzanne Pleshette-style laugh. Someone suggested I put it in the freezer to kill it “humanely,” but a) I don’t consider freezing to death a comfortable way to die. That’s why we live in South Florida, and b) I figured if I did that, I’d be cleaning iguana poop off of a frozen pizza or two. Or a chicken that Other Bill wouldn’t touch with his bare hands.
So we loaded Iggy into the car and drove a few miles west where there is a park with a nice canal and dozens of other of his kind to befriend. I popped the lid, and off he ran at lightning speed for about twenty feet, and then he just stood there, still as a frozen iguana. Other Bill walked up to him, and they just looked at each other.
“I’m worried about him. Why isn’t he moving?” Other Bill asked.
“It’s moving,” I said, “he’s watching every move you make.”
Bill walked around it, and the lizard’s head followed.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Something’s wrong with him.”
“Well what do you want to do, take him home, put him to bed and nurse him back to health?”
Other Bill said, “Well, I don’t understand why he’s not moving.”
“He’s just getting his bearings,” I said. “And probably wondering where he’s going to take a shit now that he can’t do it in our pool.”
Reluctantly, Other Bill returned to the car with me, and we went home.
I’m not convinced this will be our last dealings with roof iguanas, but at least now we have a system.
And maybe next time I’ll aim better and make a basket in the Rubbermaid.
Now if I can just find a Rubbermaid big enough for a French Canadian. The trash can, not the movie. Get your mind out of the gutter.