I am an animal lover. However, there are a few animals that I find much easier to love when they are far away from me. Animals that fall into this category are snakes, reptiles, bugs, bears, and anything that has a strong odour, slime or lots of germs. I really do love them but at a distance. Idealistically.
Many years ago I worked in a very funky shoe store. It was not uncommon to get punk rockers come in with rats or snakes hiding in pockets or under shirts. Love the rats and the snakes but I really don’t want to touch them, or smell them. Don’t want to kill them either but am not all warm and fuzzy over them.
One day it was particularly busy at the shoe store and I had to squeeze by this guy who was blocking the door to the back room. I did not notice until I was right next to him that he had a fricking huge iguana sitting on his shoulder wearing a strange pink lacy collar and leash. Not entirely unlike a gargoyle in drag. I couldn’t help myself but I think the phrase, “EW!” slipped past my lips. Totally involuntarily. Its tail, after all, was about four feet long and almost touched the ground. Very icky but I meant “EW!” in a totally loving and respectful way. Gargoyle Boy grinned at me and my squeamishness. I was a silly girl. When I returned to the sales floor the reptile and its boy were nowhere in sight and I proceeded to kneel on the floor to unpack some shoes for a customer. Suddenly I felt four scratchy little claws scrabble to find purchase on the back of my sweater. Lizard Fucker had decided to teach me a lesson. The lizard was crawling up my back towards my head. My customer ran away leaving me at its mercy. I was alone.
Instantaneously I started to sweat. A lot. The beast felt surprisingly heavy and I could feel its tail drape over my back as it reached and actually dragged on the ground. It was all I could do not to run screaming from the store or drop and roll to scrape it off. I stayed very still because even though I had never been so freaked in my life I didn’t want to hurt the thing. That, I suppose was the love kicking in. Yes, it was love but it was not enough to bathe me in a light of wellbeing and acceptance. I just wanted it OFF! It was at that moment that I started to whisper-scream “Get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off…” to anybody who was willing to listen. Nobody was. Most folks had backed away leaving a cleared area around me. A vast clear area. I was totally alone. Except for the iguana. Finally after what seemed like years Bastard Owner Boy swooped in to save the day. The only problem was that he couldn’t get the lizard off as it had tangled is creepy little claws into my sweater. Scritch scritch scritch. He tugged and pulled and I could see, out of the corner of my eye, the dinosaur’s green pointy face freakily close to my ear. Too close. Finally, with a strange Velcro-like sound, the tyrannosaurus rex was detached from my person. I was free. Asshole Reptile Tamer laughed at me, outright mocked my fear in parting, and left the store.
I know it was not the lizard’s fault. He was blameless in the whole incident. I love animals. I hate people though.