This is a re-do, or re-post, of a prior listing, a mini-essay that spells out the trials and travails of maintaining watch over my next-door neighbors’ home and its contents during their numerous extended absences, times during which they jet off to exotic resorts in various states to rest and relax, to shrug off the tedious tasks of watering and maintaining lawns and plants and to be relieved of the tedious tasks of caring, feeding, petting and grooming their cat and their two large iguanas.
Actually, I haven’t really petted and groomed the iguanas, mainly because the girls (both are female) have a nasty habit of snotting at people. I’m unsure whether that is an expression of contempt or respect or love—I am sure of its nastiness—I was struck just above my right eyebrow, a strike made without warning, not even a hiss or a growl or whatever iguanas do to signal a snotting. I am re-posting the original story and using these comments as a lead-in to the fact that my duties have been severely truncated. I still have the home and yards and plants and the cat to tend to, but the iguanas are gone, and in the words of that worthy from the 1960’s (MLK):
“I’m free at last, thank God all-mighty, I’m free at last!”
And now for a speedy disclaimer: Almost none of the above rant is true—almost everything in that drivel is my pathetic attempt at being humorous. The truest part is the fact that I do, in fact, voluntarily act as the caretaker for my neighbors, and I am generously compensated for my efforts, compensation that for a long time included the use of an upscale condo, one located in a very desirable area. However, they finally despaired of me and my family for not utilizing the condo, especially not for extended lengths of time, so they sold it—bummer!
The most untrue part in the above paragraphs is any indication I may have given to a reader that I’m glad the iguanas are gone. That of which I am glad is the fact that they went to the home of a doctor, a licensed exotic reptile collector, one that will undoubtedly attend to every wish and whim of the iguanas.
I’m happy for them, but I miss them—their care was never a burden for me. Well, I suppose the part that involved removing their potty pan from their cage, cleaning it, refilling it with water and returning it to the cage was not my favorite task, but it never detracted from the care I lavished on the ladies. I had my favorite, of course. The larger lady actually winked at me occasionally—not that I consider her act a come-on—it was probably just a friendly gesture meant to reinforce the bond that existed between us. The smaller one never winked at me, not even once, and she in fact was the one that snotted on me. I’ve been rejected by females many times over the years—well, not really that many times—but never so strongly and never so final! The iguanas are no longer part of my neighbor’s lives, nor of mine. I have a sneaky hunch that they do not miss them nearly as much as I do—in fact, I can truthfully state that the pleasure they display when we discuss the iguanas borders on ecstacy.
And now on to my redux of the original iguana posting—you can find it here. Both the original and this redux are long reads, mini-dissertations if you will, but in my humble opinion are well worth reading. The original post is dated September 27, 2009.
The purpose of this posting is to share a recent e-mail from my next-door neighbor and my response to that e-mail. The posting includes titillating observations on house-sitting, cats, iguanas, the Galapagos Islands, timeshares, exotic places, lawyers, teachers, builders, grammar, Fox News, McDonald’s, skiing, Texas, Colorado, refrigerators, snot and more—it’s a veritable smorgasbord of completely unrelated items—brace yourselves for a bumpy ride!
A rather lengthy (but highly educational) prelude to the e-mails:
Please overlook my ending the next sentence with a preposition—sometimes in writing, one must simply suck-it-up and run with an improperly located preposition.
In the house on the immediate west side of my home reside two of the best friends and neighbors any reasonably sane person could wish for.
There—I did it—I ended a sentence with a preposition. Look how silly it would be to end the sentence thusly: “. . . for which any reasonably sane person could wish.” And here I must echo the words of Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister and hero of World War II, as regards the prohibition of never ending a sentence with a proposition: “This is a situation with which I will not up with put.”
I rest my case.
My next-door neighbors own several timeshares, broadly scattered around our fifty states. They share their domicile with a cat and two large—quite large—iguanas. Well, they don’t share the actual domicile with them—the cat rambles everywhere, but has a pet entry into their garage for his return at nightfall and at sunup. As for the iguanas, they pass their days and nights in a comfortably large outdoor cage on the backyard patio, a cage with natural climate control aided by a cool-water misting system for summer and a heating system for winter. Both iguanas are ladies by nature, although both lay eggs—lots of eggs, with no contact or input (so to speak) from the opposite sex—which is probably a good thing—if there were contact and input we would probably be up to our waists in iguanas.
The ladies spend their waking hours eating lettuce and iguana-food pellets (enhanced with a sprinkling of orange juice), dumping into a large water-filled pan and hissing menacingly at passers-by. Incidentally, iguanas have a nasty habit of marking spectators. At first I thought they were expectorating (I got hit just above my right eyebrow), but I later learned that the iguana was not spitting—it was snotting.
Yep, the material came from its nostrils. I suppose the word snot as a verb would be conjugated as follows: present tense snot (Do iguanas snot on people?), past tense snotted (The iguana snotted on me), and future tense snotted (By this time tomorrow the iguana may have snotted on me again—but I hope not). My online research revealed many things, not the least of which is that iguanas in the Galapagos Islands snot salt—an environmental curiosity, I suppose. And sometimes the snalt (combination of snot and salt) is green in hue, a color caused by a bacterial infection. In my case I was not subjected to the “green sheen” category—obviously my neighbor iguanas are healthy.
Yeah, I know—TMI (Too Much Information). It’s simply that I enjoy sharing trivia—even gross trivia. Just imagine throwing up (so to speak) this tidbit of information for consideration by attendees at a crowded cocktail gathering—why, one would be spotlighted and lauded by all! And all would welcome learning a new word—snalt. And just consider the possibilities for spirited speculative discussions—should an iguana be fed pepper, for example, the nasal output could be called snepper. And I would suppose that if it were black pepper and a bacterial infection existed, the snepper would perhaps be tinted black, and if red peppers, the snepper would be tinted red. And if fed green peppers, the snepper would probably be green, similar to to the ocean-green hue of snalt, as documented in the Galapagos Islands.
I would like to believe that the action of my neighbor’s iguana stemmed from mutual respect and admiration, but I believe it was delivered to the tune of, “Stop staring at me!” Since that single incident I have kept my distance with my cap pulled low—just above my eyebrows.
They both work (the neighbors, not the iguanas). The husband is a highly talented builder and the wife is an educator in a local school district. They have vacation timeshares and occasionally jet off to some exotic location for a week or so of rest and relaxation, this time in Colorado.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must reveal that my family also has a timeshare. We gather in the spring at an exotic location for several days, a location that has all the amenities one could desire. And also in the interest of full disclosure, I must state that the location is only a short drive from home, and is made available to us by our neighbors. Their action is purely altruistic and is in no way related to my house-sitting, cat-sitting and iguana-sitting in their absences. If I felt that it was in the form of compensation I would reject it.
Yeah, right—of course I would—not!
This is my neighbors’ original e-mail, sent just prior to their departure for one of said exotic locations:
Hi—our brand new refrigerator has a busted condensate pan! It is, of course, under warranty but we didn’t have time to meet a service tech before we left. Consequently, sometimes when it goes through the defrost cycle a little water leaks out onto the floor. I share this information with you not so much as a warning, but as a disclaimer against any potential legal action filed as a result of a slip and fall by a good-hearted neighbor in the process of feeding our critters! In the meantime, instead of getting packed, my wife is cleaning the house from top to bottom because she doesn’t want that same good-hearted neighbor to think that we are a bunch of slobs (as for me, I just issue disclaimers).
I’m going to send this now before my beloved bride reads this, because she might not appreciate my humor!
And this is my response to their e-mail:
Hi—I’m sorry to hear that your new fridge has a problem, but I’m sure the company will make it good. If you like, you can ask for the service tech to come in while you folks are out of town. We aren’t going anywhere. You can give the company my land line number and my cell number. Just tell them to call me and we can set up a mutually acceptable time for him (or her, or them) to fix the problem. I’ll make the fridge available and stand by to ensure that he (or she or they) do not abscond with either of the girls or Rhalph.
Is Rhalph spelled properly? Or is it Raff? Rhalph looks right to me.
Thanks for the heads-up and the disclaimer. I’m already considering my options in case some calamitous event precipitates a lawsuit. You know, of course, that my son-in-law is an attorney affiliated with one of the most prestigious law firms in the Dallas area.
However, please don’t even think of canceling and rescheduling your sojourn to the mountains. In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that the firm, and therefore my son-in-law, handles only lawsuits lodged against corporations—lawsuits against McDonald’s, for example, in the case of “Elderly Lady Spills Hot Coffee in Lap While Leaving Drive Through Lane,” thereby suffering extreme physical damage caused by the beverage coming in contact with certain highly sensitive epidermal tissue, and irreparable mental anguish caused by the depilatory action of the hot coffee.
As Sean Hannity of Fox News is wont to say, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” My son-in-law is the only lawyer I know, and I have no desire to know any others—nay, I have a pronounced aversion to knowing any others.
Oh, and still in the interest of full disclosure, I made up the part that reads, “. . . one of the most prestigious law firms in the Dallas area.” The firm could well be such, but I have never heard, read or seen the claim in any forum—not in discussions, not in print and not in radio or TV commercials.
Hey, I just realized that today is Saturday (I didn’t really realize it—my wife just told me) and y’all are already on your way, so obviously my offer to stand by while the fridge gets fixed is moot. However, I will give myself full credit for making the offer, albeit a day late, and I’ll still send this e-mail—otherwise I’ve wasted a lot of typing. And I’ll make the same offer for next week, or whenever, just in case you both need to stay on the job.
Enjoy, and be careful—I know that most skiers take the lift up and ski downhill. If you do ski, you should reverse that practice—ski only uphill and take the lift back down, and you’ll never be in danger of attempting to occupy the same space occupied by a tree, a situation that is impossible due to an immutable law of physics, namely that “No two objects can occupy the same space at the same time.” And if you should happen to encounter a tree while speeding uphill, any damage, either to you or the tree, should be negligible.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it—I’ll get back to you later with more details.