What follows is a partially true account of how an unexpected encounter with a frilled lizard literally changed my life – for the better.
I’m not entirely sure how he ended up on my windowsill, but one morning as bacon and eggs sizzled on my stovetop, I looked out the window and there he sat, a frilled lizard with his head cocked quizzically, watching me. This unblinking stranger with a flair for the dramatic (have you seen the frill?) was not an unwelcome visitor. I had been home nursing a twisted and pained back, alone for more than a week and any sign of life – reptilian or otherwise – was encouraging.
So there we sat, the lizard and I, he a silent observer and I an exercise in perpetual slow motion. He flicked his head quickly to the other side, still watching me. This lizard, I thought, is mocking my pain (“Life is pain, Highness; anything who says differently is selling something.”). He can shift and twist and jump and scamper while I slowly shuffle, rotating my entire body like a vertical rotisserie chicken when I need to change direction.
And so the morning progressed. I shuffled, the lizard watched. He became a friendly comfort and as I packed up a small bag for my first outing in a week – to get ibuprofen and wine, among other things – I hesitated at the window. I knew he wouldn’t be there when I returned and I thought for a moment I might just sit awhile longer. Coming up with no rational reason to delay my errand-running any longer, I set off with one last look and a farewell nod to my windowsill companion.
The drive was cautious, shards of pain shooting down my leg and up each side of my back, nearly to my neck, with every stop and go. Ibuprofen and sundries in hand, I made a final stop at the the local wine shop. Perusing the vast selection, a label caught my eye. Sauvignon Blanc, Australia. The Big Frill Winery. And there was my lizard friend, or at least his likeness via an artist’s sketch, staring blankly back at me. I picked up the bottle ($15.99) and headed to the counter. Two steps later, as I am wont to do, I stumbled over my own feet and the bottle slipped from my hands, landing with a dull crack as the glass split neatly apart, the white wine from down under spreading across the hardwood floor.
Sigh. I grabbed a stackful of napkins from the counter and, without thinking, bent over to begin mopping up my clumsy mess. Pop! Hinged at the waist, I froze, not wanting to move. Uh oh. My back. What have I done? I can’t stay bent over forever. They’re going to have to carry me out of here like this. Slowly, slowly, ever so slowly, I rose until I was standing straight up. Wait. WAIT. No pain. None at all. I raised my arms, I shifted from side to side, I rotated my torso. I did a little jump-dance thing. No pain. None at all.
I looked down at the broken wine bottle, the label still intact but saturated. I smiled at my scaly friend and walked, effortlessly and pain-free, to the counter.
“Can I get a case of The Big Frill Sauvignon Blanc?”