24-Carat Iguana: A Reptile Eulogy

Reptile heaven received a green angel this morning. Saint Ignatius the iguana’s soul flew there to reunite with his cold-blooded homies Samson, Heathcliff, and Osama.


Love thy iguana.

My uncle picked up Saint Ignatius at a Bellflower pet shop about twenty-four years ago. For a little shy of a quarter of a century, my uncle, a Vietnam vet, and Saint, a patient of the vet, loved each other. Saint was usually on or near him. He could be found straddling Henry’s head. The two could be seen basking side by side on their front stoop. Henry could be spotted pedaling his ten-speed to the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet, Saint bravely riding the handlebars.

Like all good iguanas, Saint was of Mexican descent. Like many cholos, he lived most of his life in Norwalk, California, where he side-eyed most living things with derision, ready to smack a bitch with his tail. He loved McDonald’s, sun-bathing, antiquing, and Henry. Henry named him after Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint lived up to the loyal.


Loyal and true. With a tropical sweet tooth.

This afternoon, I brought M&Ms to Henry at his nursing home and explained that his friend had died this morning, and Henry spoke for an hour and a half, stream-of-consciounesssly eulogizing his friend, his “special beauty.”

“Some people have said that our souls are lizards,” he said. The inverse of that is true, too. Sometimes our lizards are our souls.



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