Bite

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

I’d caught a frill neck lizard in our yard. I must have been about seven. At the impressionable age where I’d seen movies and read books where someone traps a wild animal (a wolf, a horse, a bird) and makes it their friend. For some reason I was sure I could tame this lizard and it would be my friend. The first connection between human and animal seemed to always come from food so I brought my lizard some bits of leftover meat. The lizard refused to take the proffered meat from my hand. Frustrated by its recalcitrance and unwillingness to play along with the movie plotline, I grabbed it and tried to stuff the meat into its mouth. So it bit me.

PHOTO CREDIT: GLOBALP/ISTOCK

Cue me running to my mother, blood streaming from my finger and screaming for the lizard to be killed for its huge injustice to me and to the idea of a noble friendship developing between us.

As she dressed my wound, my mother, who probably dreaded the idea of me keeping a pet lizard and felt some kind of grim joy that the lizard had now fallen from favour, refused to countenance the killing of the lizard because it was just defending itself against what it saw as an attack.

“But I just wanted to feed it!” I wailed. “I wanted it to be my friend! But it bit me! I hate it! I hate the lizard!”

My mother suggested that if I set it free and let it return to the company of other lizards it would never bother me again. Sniffing the last of my tears away, and with my finger bound it a big white bandage, I agreed the lizard should be returned to the wild.

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