Outwitted by Dinosaur

underwater iguana, green iguana in pool

Friday afternoon I had an unexpected visitor.

He came the prior Friday too, but didn’t bother knocking. Just left a small “gift” to say he’d called.

I’m beginning to think this is a thing. Like Taco Tuesday. Or Deep Thought Thursday. But I’ve yet to come up with a clever catchphrase for this particular scenario. Friday Feces? Um… no.

In the meantime I’ll tell you I was about to take a nap. Well, not a real nap, Just a quick closing of the eyes. For just twenty minutes. Not even sleeping. I swear. In fact I drank a tall glass of ice-coffee first.

That’s what Tim says to do for Maximum Impact (you have to say that in a buff-bro sports-drink voice – MAXIMUM IMPACT!) He says you drink a glass of coffee, then close your eyes for 20 minutes – quiet restful minutes – and BOOM, you’re ready to go go GO!

So before you think I was slacking off on a Friday afternoon, just know I was supercharging myself to be hyperproductive. (HYPERPRODUCTIVE!)

I slugged my coffee, laid on the bed, set the timer, closed my eyes, and was feeling quite relaxed and peaceful, listening to the sound of water spilling from our spa into the pool below. It reminded me of the fountain in our neighbor’s backyard in Oakland, that peaceful babbling brook sound, so calming. I always loved that about Victor, how despite his unfriendliness (he preferred to “keep to himself”), he clearly appreciated the sound of the water too, turning his fountain on religiously each morning. It seems strange and oddly comforting that our home here has it as well. Perhaps it’s the thing that drew us to this house. But I digress…

So I was lying there quietly recharging when I heard a large *PLOP*, like someone had tossed an apple into the pool. And I knew.

I sprang to action, ran to the back door, and saw this…

green iguana in swimming pool

I assumed this was the same guy we saw back when we first arrived in Florida. He’d been so mysterious, taunting us with his droppings but typically vanishing without a sight.

But here he was, taking a dip in our pool. As I approached he released from the wall, swam in silky curves, his long tail powering him forward. He stilled and drifted towards the spillover, lounging there in the waterfall as though enjoying the Deluge treatment at the historic Claremont Hotel’s Fairmont Spa. It wouldn’t have surprised me if Mr. Iguana raised a paw, snapped two sharp claws, and demanded an iced hibiscus cooler, pronto!

I took this video, which is not very good quality, but it gives you the idea… (I particularly like the end where he drifts toward me, so if you get bored, skip ahead.)

I was fascinated. Crept closer. But I guess I got a little too close because in a flash he tucked his legs and shot like a spear to the bottom of the pool, where he sat, motionless.

I watched him for a bit and thought, well, he’ll be up soon enough. The water’s cool (74) and he has to breathe, after all. I thought it interesting to note how long he could hold his breath, so I set the timer on my phone and sat on the patio to watch.

After six minutes I was bored. And slightly concerned. I Googled “how long can iguanas hold breath?” Turns out green iguanas, like this one, can hold their breath for thirty minutes! I was shocked. And marine iguanas can hold theirs even longer, for over two hours. Mr. Iguana was clearing playing the long game. Well I could wait…

In the meantime, while he sat on the bottom of the pool, I wandered about the yard, feeling the warm sun on my skin, the gentle cool breeze, again reminded of Oakland with its bay breezes. It was all rather blissful really, when, in my peripheral vision, I spotted something dark in the jacuzzi, perhaps leaves that had dropped from the orchid tree. I stepped closer, looked directly into the tub, and instead of leaves, saw two brown turds, one floating a few inches beneath the surface, the other carelessly drifting near the bottom.

So just to recap… our little visitor took a crap in the spa (two craps to be precise), then treated himself to a refreshing spa treatment in our saltwater pool. What an asshole!

I feared the poop would disintegrate and infiltrate the pool, so I grabbed an old tupperware used for gardening (the infamous tupperware from my bufo capture), took my pants off, stepped onto the seat of the spa to scoop out the first turd. Here it is…

iguana poop

Of course that was the easy one… the low-hanging fruit so to speak. I had to fish deeper for the second turd. And as I stepped down fully into the jacuzzi, my underwear soaked through with, let’s not forget, water that had shit floating in it. I’m not quite sure what I was thinking.

Irritated but undeterred, I thrust the tupperware deeper, but with no airspace to displace, it was impossible to capture the turd – it just drifted around and around near the bottom of the spa. So I stretched farther, and there went my t-shirt, drenched too with shit-infused water and yet no closer to securing the turd.

I needed a better tool (“right tool for the job,” as they say) so I stepped out and grabbed the pool skimmer to fish the low floater out. You might ask, why didn’t she just grab the pool skimmer from the get go? That would be an excellent question.

I got half of it out. Sort of. The rest did, in fact, disintegrate (mostly from my failing attempts which swished the water all about), leaving me seriously annoyed with this iguana. When he came up for air, I would send him packing.

After twenty-seven minutes he rose to the surface. His nose bobbed above the water. I moved with my new trusty pool skimmer. My plan: gently assist him out and on his merry way. No more dilly-dallying.

I inched closer with the skimmer. Tried to corral him in the corner where he could crawl up and out on his own. But before I even got close, he darted off like a fish, shooting straight back to the bottom of the pool, where he fixed himself flat and, again, didn’t move.

This would not stand. I would not be outwitted by a dinosaur!

underwater green iguana

So I kept pestering him with the skimmer, prodding him down deep and pushing him around so he’d come back up. But no. He just swam speedy circles around my skimmer like some kind of circus act, while I ran the length of the pool, back and forth and back and forth in my poop-infested shirt and underwear, wielding an eight-foot pole, thinking, NO! You WILL OBEY ME!

They say the way iguanas hold their breath for so long is that they conserve energy by not moving, so I figured with how I had him on the run and all, he’d have to come up soon, at least more quickly than twenty-seven minutes. I sat down on a lounge chair to catch my breath, let my clothes dry a bit, and await his emergence. I resolved that next time I would not be so gentle.

While I waited my mind drifted in aimless spirals… A small white bi-plane buzzed overhead. I thought of the visit the day before from the property’s former owner, a meth-head or speed-freak who we’re pretty sure made off with our pool filter after we closed on the house, and how he’d just dropped by unannounced with his “uncle” saying he wanted to show off the renovations they’d done. Uh… okay, I guess. I thought of how Sunday evening, with visiting friends staying in our back cottage, though utility trucks had been idling in the street since mid-afternoon, our power was cut without notice at 7pm (just after dark and basically when you need it the most), how everything spun to a stop in blackness, and how a crew of tree-trimmers fired up their chain-saws and marched to the back of our property to hack at our historic and privacy-providing gumbo limbo trees, pretending not to understand our questions or concerns, responding only in Creole.

So I was thinking these things, and other things too, and remembering the the movie Slacker, by Richard Linklater. Do you guys remember it? A sequence of connected but not really related events, one after the other, after the other, and you’re thinking, I’ve never seen a movie like this, at some point they’re gonna get to the main characters, right? They’re gonna loop back, circle the center, hone in on the point. But no. It keeps going and going, and at some random point, it just ends. And I was thinking these adventures with the pooping iguana might make for an interesting blogpost, and maybe that’s how my post would be… not a real story per se, simply a series of connected but not really related events that keeps going and going, until at some random point, it just ends.

But this isn’t the end. Stay with me.

So I was having these “deep thoughts” (ahem) and damn if that iguana hadn’t been under for a good forty minutes, and despite being irritated as all hell with him, I began to be concerned. He looked darker than when I’d first seen him more than an hour earlier, and I wondered if he was getting cold, seeing as he was a cold-blooded beast that needed to warm himself in the sun. And just as I was thinking, he’s too cold, it’s been too long, his dark shape inched toward a corner of the pool and ever so slowly rose to the top, where he clung to the wall and stuck his little snout out of the water.

Now was my chance! It was well past time for him to go, and, having learned nothing from my earlier attempts, I tried yet again to fish him out of the pool with the skimmer. I was so close! The net was beneath his hindquarters and just as I was lifting his weight, quite heavy really, trying to assist his stubby forearms onto the patio so he could pull himself onto the warm pavers and soak up some sun, he jumped off the net, dove deep again, and set himself once more on the bottom of the pool. Round three.

What can I say at this point, other than, he’d bested me. With his tiny pea-sized brain, he’d bested me. And yet, I was loathe to suffer defeat, so I waited again. I retrieved my journal and pen, and wrote.

I wrote about the meth-head former owner of our house, and how just a week before his appearance at our front door, I’d seen him come into a consignment furniture store I like to peruse. I was mid-transaction, purchasing some knick-knacks for the guest cottage, saw his pitbull profile, recognized him right away, pulled my hat lower, turned my back, and politely whispered to the woman behind the counter, I know this is odd, but I’m having a little situation and will have to come back for these later. She looked at me, somehow knowingly, and said, I completely understand.

I wrote about how I was sure he must have seen me, and how his speedy brain had been consumed since, wondering what we’d done to distort his vision of perfection here.

I wrote about how the relentless powertools – hedgetrimmers and lawnmowers and chainsaws and blowers – drive me batty here. How we have a small pocket-park next door (our windows literally look into the park) and how the City of Delray maintenance crew seems to come daily despite the park’s minuscule square footage. You’d think they could manage the work in one weekly session, but no, they prefer to blast the noise out all week long. On Monday, they weedwhack. On Tuesday, they powerwash. On Wednesday, they mow. And I’m near my breaking point, when the neighbor’s gardener (who happens to work for us occasionally too) starts blowing leaves around next door with a gas-powered blower. It drones on and on and on. And finally, I snap.

I storm from my desk, grab the rake from our garage, stomp across the park to the neighbor’s yard, wait for him to notice me and turn off the whining engine, and finally say, thrusting the rake toward him, why can’t you simply use a rake?! You’re making a lot of noise!

He says, this is faster.

And I say, it doesn’t seem like it! And storm back to my house, feeling like a complete jerk. (I can report tht I did apologize the next time I saw him.)

I was reminded of this while waiting for that iguana because I could hear something whining in the distance, and I realized it was a sound I was going to have to befriend, because the frequency would only increase as the days got longer and wetter. This was slow season. Jesus.

The iguana surfaced again, this time after only a few minutes and I thought, he must be getting quite cold after all that time in the pool. He really should be getting out now, especially with the afternoon waning and the sun sinking. So I tried to fish him out once more. And it was quite easy this time, he seemed nearly paralyzed. I scooped him up with the skimmer and set him on the pavers. A nice place to soak up some sun, warm back up, and eventually be on his way.

iguana changes color

I grabbed my real camera and snapped a few more photos. I noticed how loose his skin was, how he seemed smaller than when we’d seen him back in October. And I wondered if during these winter months he was getting enough to eat. And I really started to feel kind of bad for the guy.

I decided, despite his poor social skills, it was best to share my bounty. It’s what we Americans do. Or what we used to, before… well, you know. So I decided to give him some fruit – I know they are herbivores and love to eat fruits and flowers (especially hibiscus, which we have a ton of, so I can’t begrudge his visits too much). I had a lovely ripe pear. I took a quarter for myself, and another for him, chopped it into small pieces, tossed it nearby. I wondered if he could smell it… He didn’t move for the fruit. In fact, he was quite frozen.

green iguana closeup portrait

green iguana closeup portrait

And though I’d done virtually no work all day, except emailing our accountant, dropping pleas to members of Congress at the post office, picking up lunch, stopping by the cleaners, none of which are actual work, but rather the things we all have to do in addition to work – oh, and I did read a New Yorker parody about a work-at-home contractor avoiding work all day and calling 911 in a panic, haha! too funny, I thought – despite all this, and my desire to accomplish some real work, some meaningful work (I was aiming for HYPERPRODUCTIVE! after all), I just couldn’t let him win. I had to hold my ground. Just like I did with the meth-head visitor the day before. Be gracious, even kind, but set clear boundaries, and wave bye-bye on my terms.

So I waited. Listened to the trickling spillover, backed by the humming pool pump (our new pool pump), a nice little harmony the two made. Still the iguana sat, not moving, as the shadows of my neighbor’s fencepost inched closer and closer to his tail. I wondered if he was going to refuse my gift of fruit (a much nicer gift than he’d brought me!) or if he was simply waiting till he’d warmed up enough to move. But that window was closing, the sun slipping lower, glowing softer, more orange. You’d better go dude.

And just as I was thinking this, he did start to crawl away from the pool, towards the slices of pear I’d tossed. Oooh, I thought, there he goes! Is he going to have a little snack? He sure looks hungry.

But no, he stepped right over the pears, continued towards the jacuzzi and in the direction of the park, which I assumed was his home, when Pickle spotted him and crouched in a predatory position. She slinking after him, creeping slowly but swishing her tail wildly.

I yelled, No Pickle. No! But she was on autopilot, now gaining speed. And as he spotted her, he freaked out, turned an immediate one-eighty, ran straight for the pool, and dove back in. Dumb ass dinosaur!

I fished him out once more after chasing him around the pool twice, set him again on the pavers, brought the cat inside, tossed my dirty damp clothes in the wash, and hopped in the shower, giving up any remaining hope of seeing him leave on my terms.

The truth is, I’d probably done him more harm than good, despite my best intentions. Guess I was the real asshole.

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