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Time for Moore: Lizard on the lam

I’m about to address a recent traumatizing incident in my life, and all for the sake of your entertainment.

Shortly after school resumed in early January, our household attempted to regain its foothold on a regular schedule following a holiday season filled with Christmas joy and candlelit family gatherings. (OK, in truth it was packed with stress and endless toil as our high school senior scrambled to meet college application and scholarship deadlines, but you’re welcome to believe what you like.)

The door slammed shut one morning after spouse and son exited for their respective work and school days, and I expelled a sigh of relief. Finally I could tackle tasks abandoned in the holiday rush, untangle Christmas tree lights and do the jobs for which I am actually compensated.

Quickly I tidied the most visible messes before also leaving the home front. Upon returning around noon, I dashed upstairs to grab a roll of tape. In my hand were a few blueberries to toss into the glass-walled lair of Darwin, my son’s bearded dragon.

I was moving hurriedly, anticipating a fast lunch of microwaved leftovers, when I entered my son’s room en route to Darwin’s cage. But — alas! One of the two doors to the three-foot long enclosure was ajar as I stepped forward with my offering. No issue, I supposed — until I realized DARWIN WAS NOT IN THE CAGE!!

Was it immediately or sooner that I started screaming, glancing with panic at the floor and registering the horror? A jail break had occurred, and the last thing on earth I wanted to do was step on a skittering lizard!

I gingerly tiptoed to my bedroom, eyes peeled to the carpet while trying not to hyperventilate. I shut the door to my room but realized DARWIN COULD BE ANYWHERE; there was no safety for a woman who had never touched a bearded dragon and had no desire to ever do so, either accidentally or on purpose.

Grabbing my phone, I first texted my son, who I calculated was then heading to lunch: “COME HOME NOW,” I typed. “THERE’S AN EMERGENCY.” Then I punched in the high school’s main number and tried to keep my voice calm.

“My son is going to be late to his next class,” I uttered in a quavering tone. “There’s a family emergency.”

The kind secretary was concerned, so I explained it wasn’t THAT type of crisis but rather an animal escape with which a hapless mother needed assistance.

When my son arrived, he found me standing atop a chair.

Sheepishly, he said, “I threw two crickets in Darwin’s cage this morning, and maybe I didn’t shut the door completely.”


Well, I had the careless teen search beneath dressers, beds and desks, behind toilets and cleaning supplies, in shoes and closets and even between rolls of toilet paper. No Darwin. We settled on shutting all doors to the hallway and sealing the rooms with bath towels. I decided to work elsewhere for the remainder of the afternoon, lest a three-and-a-half year-old lizard come creeping my way unexpectedly.

My dear husband had deadlines to meet and didn’t arrive home until 8 p.m. Poor guy; his supper was kept waiting while I exhorted him to “FIND THAT LIZARD.”

Son and spouse resumed the lizard hunt, and before long the escapee was located. He was lurking in our daughter’s room, tucked behind a fan. He puffed out his beard and hissed, but Darwin was no match for my two hunters.

Back in his cage, he appeared both chastened and irritated, having enjoyed his taste of freedom and brief reign of terror. And there he sits yet today, behind doors kept firmly closed lest another lizard tale commence.

Check out Time for Moore, Jane Turpin Moore’s blog, at