Note: The Gecko Chronicles are not posted sequentially, but you can find them all batched in a tidy little group at the left.
SPOT: THE EARLY YEARS
When Spot was little, my husband and the boys would take him out and play with him. I would pace the hallway waiting for the gecko to be replaced in his cage so I could supervise the scrubbing of family hands. It was almost as if I could perceive the little malevolent salmonella droplets forming on my children’s extremities. Maybe reptiles and germaphobes shouldn’t cohabitate.
While I complain a lot about bearing the burden of the gecko, it’s really my husband who’s been his main caretaker. He’s so nurturing to pets it’s crazy. He grew up with dogs, cats, snakes, tarantulas, horses and a goat. He’s got this way with animals that I can’t really relate to. Once, when we first started dating, a friend gave him a lost stray kitten, not even old enough to be away from its mother. Scott lived in a long, railroad style apartment and I walked in one day to find him crawling the length of the apartment backwards. The kitten was in front of him – they were face to face – and Scott was leading the cat slowly through the apartment, like a mother would, so the cat would know his way around and not get lost.
Meanwhile, back at my own apartment lived a caged parakeet that my roommate had bought for me. I used to try and get the bird to come out and play but he was either misanthropic or agoraphobic; he would pull his cage door closed with his beak whenever I left it opened.
So it was always Scott that changed Spot’s sand, filled his water, sprayed his flora, scooped his poop. Once a month, Scott empties the whole tank, bleaches it and refills it with fresh gecko accoutrements. One day one of the glass walls broke while he was scrubbing it. There was blood everywhere and Scott needed to go to the ER for stitches. I was in the middle of hemming pants for my son as he had a bar mitzvah to attend in thirty minutes. So I cursed the gecko for inconveniencing me with an ER run in the middle of an already hectic Saturday morning. He just always seemed like trouble to me.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t grow unexpectedly fond of Spot in my own quiet way. The truth is, I feel like there’s a lot to love about lizards. They invariably have cute feet. And they always move in a slow, sultry way. Like Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Or Scarlett Johansson in just about anything.
Plus I get an inexplicable rush watching him chow down on live crickets. It’s not even an anti-cricket thing for me. There’s just something so direct and unapologetic about it. He’s like, “Yo, I’m going to eat you!” And then he does.