Whitney & the K-town Iguana

You haven’t lived until you have lived with a horny Iguana.

My first year out of University, in the early spring, I landed a role in a play in Kitchener, Ontario. I had never been to Kitchener, though I had many friends who were “K-town-born-and-raised”, and I was interested in getting to know the place.

Some of the play’s cast opted to commute from Toronto, but as I was living in Uxbridge at the time (far from both Toronto and Kitchener), I requested to be billeted with someone local. I truly lucked out. The lady who took me in was kind, generous and friendly and asked nothing of me in return for my complete room and board. She gave me my own key, my own room in this enormous empty house, she fed me and when it got warm enough, she let me swim in her pool.

Now, in this lovely woman’s house was a sort of menagerie. With two grown boys who were mostly moved out, she had been left with their numerous pets. Two Australian sheep dogs (part dingo), two or three guinea pigs, a rabbit and a five-foot long orange iguana called Iggy.

Iggy. God knows where this creature came from. Maybe hell? Yeah, I say hell. It had initially belonged to her son – who now only claimed ownership of Iggy when that ownership wasn’t attached to any kind of basic responsibility. But now, as she was used to its unnerving presence, she felt a sort of affinity and fondness for this bizarre-looking lizard.

Iggy wouldn’t have been so unbearable and creepy if he was kept in an enclosed space or cage to keep him wrangled, but for some unknown reason, he was allowed to skulk around the house freely with nothing to bar him. It was very hard to keep track of this sneaky little bastard too; just when you thought he was lurking somewhere in front of you, he’d crawl up behind you on the back of the couch while you were watching the news.

Now if this wasn’t bad enough, my hostess warned me that in the late spring that “Iggy goes into heat.” Hm. Into heat, eh?

“But isn’t he a boy lizard-iguana-thing? I thought it was just girl … mammals that went into heat … What month is this?”

Apparently I was wrong. Iggy was special. She had checked him out with an exotic pet vet upon noticing the change in his behavior and was told of his delightful seasonal condition.

Horny lizard. Funny, huh? I thought so until I experienced a five-foot long orange iguana chasing me across a tile floor at 8 in the morning. Apparently, when in heat, Iggy was drawn to females, no matter what species, particularly every 28 days (wink, wink.) I’ll tell you from experience, the last thing you want when PMSing is a freekin’ lizard pursuing you, open-mouthed across the kitchen floor. A maxi-pad commercial will feature a woman dancing with a ribbon or a skipping across a beach, but never screaming and running from a hot-to-trot iguana.

My hostess also warned me of the possible effects of Iggy’s pursuits. She held up a leather footstool that she had once thrown at the lizard when he charged her the year before. She flipped it over to reveal a large mess of torn leather and fluff. A chunk of the footstool was missing. Holy crap. You see, though their teeth aren’t like an alligator’s, all white and threatening, look closely (if you dare) and you’ll see their mouth is lined with a jagged, serrated edge. I later googled “iguana-inflicted injuries”. Don’t. Ever. Do. That … Ever.

So I mostly lived in fear. Every other morning I’d awake to the surprised shriek of my hostess as Iggy tried to “woo” her while she made breakfast. She showed me a trick: if he charges, grab a blanket or scarf or towel and throw it over his head, he’ll stop dead, disoriented and blinded. He’d often stay under the towel or blanket for a good half hour, no doubt wondering where all the pretty ladies went.

As I’d quietly poke my head out of the bedroom door every morning to survey the terrain and spot the creature’s whereabouts, I felt like David Attenborough should be narrating my life.

“The female warily negotiates her morning path, cautious as she emerges from her den. She spots her unlikely suitor, awaiting her arrival on the hall shag carpet. Suddenly, he charges. She leaps! In one swift maneuver, a bath towel descends over her predator’s head, quieting him for another few moments of peace. Now, to the watering hole for a little breakfast.”

In Kitchener, I learned that when you have a horny iguana, tile floors are a must. For, though Iggy would try to bolt in your direction, his long clackety nails and dry, scaly feet made it very difficult to get anywhere on glazed ceramic tiles. His body would stay in one place and his legs would whirl around like egg beaters, like some kind of tap-dancing muppet or cartoon. Luckily, this scraping, tappa-tappa would give you the warning you needed to find the nearest towel for chucking. Before I knew the towel trick, I think I vaulted over the breakfast bar one morning to escape. I usually tried to steer clear of the carpeted areas of the house whenever he was around, unless he was more interested in chasing the poor dogs.

The spring wore on, and we were graced with a sort of early summer as temperatures warmed up to almost 30 degrees (that’s pretty frickin’ warm – for those of you in the U.S.) The days grew longer and Iggy’s hormones seemed to cool, which made my stress levels plummet. He lost interest in chasing women and was content to be a lizard, lounging pool-side in the sun (strangely, he would even take the odd swim.) I don’t think he ever chased me again, thank Jebus.

What I learned from this: In the presence of an orange iguana, always have a throwing towel handy – and don’t throw the one you’re wearing, because that tends to create a certain unwelcome level of awkwardness between the you and your hostess.



I know, it's not orange, but it definitely qualifies as "horny iguana."

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