Last night our bearded dragon Carnie died. Carnie has been with us for over a year, and we loved him very much, even though as a lizard he doesn’t really “do” much. Carnie in case you’re wondering is short for “Carnage” and the older kid named him without hesitation. But unlike his name, Carnie was very friendly happily sitting on people’s clothes or on their heads and even starred in a short Brave parody I shot called Brave Mom.
Then we moved house, and a good percentage of what we took with us, has been found in the new location, in itself miraculous, maybe because the invisible vortex surrounding all places you move to and from was only five miles long. Even Carnie made it intact, but somehow some
idiot person who was helping us pack couldn’t figure out that the heat lamp that was warming the Australian desert lizard and keeping him alive was supposed to stay with the tank that my husband transported in his car, not packed in some random box that no one would ever see again marked “STUFF.”
So the poor thing has been freezing cold and looking unwell for weeks, but I have been too busy/preoccupied/self-absorbed to go buy the little fucker a new heat lamp. Then Wonder Dad, in all his wisdom, decides that the kids could really use that bench space in their room and MOVES the lizard EVEN CLOSER to the chilly ocean air by the balcony door, that more often than not is left open.
Cut to: Me approaching the tank with my son to see a very cold, dead thing with a collapsed middle, even though his tank was full of crickets. My husband is the only one who bothers to feed the thing, and I feel for him, as right after I touch its cold, dead, leathery head with my finger and it doesn’t move, I know hubby will also be the one who gets the blame for killing it.
My kids and I cry together. Then we start looking for scapegoats.
“Daddy killed the lizard,” wails my younger son.
“That lizard was my life,” moans the older one, who literally has not given Carnie more than a sideways glance since he named her/him.
“Lizard killer,” I think, malevolently, unable to wait until the morning when the kids wake daddy with accusations of First Degree Murder.
I text the news simply: “Carnie’s dead.”
I commiserate with a friend over text after the kids are asleep, remembering that she has lost two bearded dragons in the last six months. How? I suddenly want to know.
She texts back (and I quote):
I inadvertently blinded and subsequently (slowly) starves the first one. Has her a year. Second on was a beast and my dad left the heat lamp on high all day in a glass tank next to a window getting loads of sun. Cooked it. I’m haunted my the horrid demise both suffered. Haunted. Im so sorry….fragile creators. X (sic.)
For some reason this puts me in a good mood and I go to sleep happy.
Fade in: Princess mom gets to sleep in slightly (8:45) when fair Prince Daddy comes in and says he has something to show her…
Princess Mom: Did you buy me breakfast?
Prince Dad: No.
P.M.: Well what the fuck is it then?
P.D.: It’s better than that…
P.M.: Are you being sarcastic? Did the dog shit on the floor again?
Down to the kids’ room we go, and to the tank where P.D. Points and redundantly says “Look!”
And there she/he is Carnie!!!! Completely alive!!! Apparently just hibernating as she/he would in the desert night air!!!! I take my old friend out and almost kiss it, but don’t because of salmonella. Prince Daddy has morphed into Prince Charming! I am so impressed.
After all if a reptile can come back from the dead, so can I…