Sunday, May 14, 2006

Night of the Iguana

It’s telling that, in certain moods, I forget to tell you the really interesting things that happen. Instead, I caterwaul on about the vicissitudes of shopping.

As it happens, Friday night after making purchases I’d be doomed to return on Saturday, I am toting fat enough bundles I need to cab it home. I watch the Yellow Cab navigate through the gauntlet of dazed shoppers emerging from the store. He pulls to a stop in front of me. The driver flings himself across the front seat to reach and open the passenger door for me. Before I’ve loaded cushions and tablecloths into the car, he starts to chat. “Whoa! Looks like you’re doing some decorating are you?”

“Yep. Kitchen chairs cushions.” I’m willing to be friendly with anyone on earth who is getting me away from Wal-Mart.

“Do most of my shopping at Value-Village,” he informs me, “Got myself two beautiful throw cushions – velvet with tigers on them – for two dollars, can you believe that? And they’re right comfy, too.”

Right comfy. He’s a down-home Maritime boy, this one. Could be in his late twenties, maybe his thirties, but has what I suspect will be life-long boyish looks. He’s wearing a baseball cap and denim jacket. He continues to expound on the virtues of shopping at Value Village and the Salvation Army store.

“I pick up bags of old clothes,” he says, “for my Iguana.” Oh? He continues: “Iggy-Lulu, I call her. They make quite a mess when they dirty the cage, so I put the old clothes in the bottom and that makes it easy to clean. Got it fixed up real nice. She loves it. Got her mirror hooked up and she thinks it’s another Iggy. And I got her a Teddy Bear.” He glances at me in the mirror with a conspiratorial grin. “I sneak up and move the Teddy Bear’s ears and she watches it like a hawk when I do that.”

“How big is she?”

“Ohhh…she’s about three and a half feet. Cage takes up the whole dresser top. I put a chair in front of the dresser and she climbs down and wanders around the house. When she gets tired of it, she climbs back up into her cage.”

“You’re really fond of her, aren’t you.” I see a happy grin reflected in the mirror.

“Yeah. I don’t know what I’ll do if she ever dies. I sing to her, you know? I sing to her when I get in at night. She loves that.” And he belts out his homemade original, the “Iggy-Lulu-How-Are-You” song without a trace of self-consciousness. I sit there with my mouth open, the rigors of my trek through darkest Wal-Mart completely forgotten for the moment. This is, I’m thinking, one of bravest things I’ve ever seen (or heard) anyone do.

When we arrive, I over-tip him. Hell, it wasn’t just a drive home. There was original music.


zhoen said...

This is how I feel about musicians at the T stations. I consider it a voluntary entertainment tax, and willingly pay it.

Jessie said...

And don't forget the shopping tips! Although I noticed a few years back, Value Village started getting a very inflated notion about the value of its junk. Still, the astute shopper can have quite a good time there, and at the Goodwill too. These are what I refer to as "the store where you never have to say no to yourself."

Hello, my name is Jessie and I'm a Goodwilloholic. I've been shop-free since 2003. Well, except for those two pairs of cargo pants...

Marigoldie said...

I live for this stuff.

Mary said...

Love it, just love it.

And your wonderful cab driver is right about charity shops, as we call them here. I use them a lot.

The mainstay of my working wardrobe over the last 3 years has been a fabulous pair of Donna Karan black pinstriped trousers which I picked up at a charity shop for £5 .....

Koru's Daughter said...

I love Iggy-LuLu and her pet human. I sing to my cat but not original music. I have friends who wrote their cat a song about how the canned pet food they were serving him was fresh kill and, they hoped, the this would make the cat less picky about the meal selection.

You said that singing the Iggy-LuLu song was brave. Very Interesting.

Your Spider Power is to attract gentle, facinating weirdos. That is kinda cool. (Note: I seem to remember in the really old newspaper Spiderman comic strip that there was a joke written into the series that once Peter Parker was bitten by the radioactive spider part of his powers - beyond strength and a super senses - included attracting costumed weirdos because he never saw any before then.

LJ said...

Zhoen - exactly!
Jess - Actually VV is far, far from my house or I'd be there often. It's located in one of those retail parks full of gigantic box stores, surrounded by a postal code's worth of pavement. Without a vehicle, it's a long bus ride to a depressing as hell place. Frenchy's is close though. When my dust allergy can stand it.
Marigoldie - Me too. If it weren't for stuff like this, I'd give up on the entire species. People like Iggy-Lulu's friend (I hesitate to say "owner")remind me that I can still be surprised and delighted by people.
Mary - And the Donna Karan's were LONG enough???
KD - My spider power also attracts the guy with the lesbian ex-wife from (according to him, and he's likely biased)hell. But yes - once in a while, it pulls in folks like this, for which I'm truly grateful. And singing out loud, with complete abandon, a corny song to your pet iguana IS brave, don't you think?

Mary said...


phlegmfatale said...

what a delightfully lovely slice of life. Nice tale - that was definitely worth a generous tip!