He was a good little guy, but most of you don’t remember him as Lee. Most of you remember him as Santa Claus from the Atom Kappa Christmas animations. I miss him terribly right now.
I remember the day I got him. My iguana, Christa, had just died, and I felt really really bad. I drove down to the most ghetto pet store in the area, Fin Feather and Fur. It isn’t even there anymore. It is the kind of place where they’d be smoking in the store right in front of the animals. The kind of place where you just wanted to go and rescue the animals so they don’t have to deal with that anymore. The guy behind the counter was smoking when I walked into the pet store.
There was a tank full of lizards, and each were being sold in pairs. Skinks, Long Tailed Lizards and one other kind I can’t remember. There was a little guy in this tank who was being sold as a single lizard. He was brown with little white spots on him, and the guy behind the counter told me in a raspy smoker’s voice that he was a desert iguana, and he didn’t get much bigger than he was right now. Also, he was a vegetarian. This pretty much sealed the deal for me, and i bought him. The guy behind the counter threw him in a brown paper bag and stapled it shut, which was disgusting to me. He also talked me into buying some sort of corn meal stuff to put down on the bottom of the tank. Knowing nothing about these lizards, I bought it.
I got the lizard home and named him Lee, after Lee Rinaldo from Sonic Youth, my favorite band at the time. He was such a good lizard. He never bit anyone. He always looked like he had a smile on his face, and he ate NOTHING but romaine lettuce for 11 years and never complained about it.
His first year of life was very rough though. The corn meal that the man sold me was infested with these little red spiders that were some sort of parasite. They latched onto lee and got deep in his ears, in his eyes, and under the scales in his tail. I didn’t know what to do! They were hurting him. I’d give him baths, but I couldn’t get them all off. Completely at a loss, I called my neighbors who own Tropic Pet Center in Wilkes Barre. They got me a medicine that I started to use. It took about 2 months, but I got all of the mites off of him. For about two years I was still finding one or two stray dead ones stuck to his tail. I truly believe he would have died had I not gotten that medicine. After this ordeal, he was fine.
I can’t write anything bad about him, because it’s far too sad. He was very sick at the end, but like my cat Nelson, I only want to talk about the good. I remember taking him out of the cage one day and forgetting that I took him out, and then going to the store. I remembered while I was at the store that I had left him sitting on the counter in my basement. I ran home quickly and ran down the basement, and he was still sitting in the same position as i left him.
I remember how he used to climb Amanda’s hair and sit on her head. He liked to be on people’s heads for some reason and he loved the way hair felt.
For a few summers, we used to put his tank out in the garage and let him bask in the summer sun. He’d sit in the window all day.
In 2001, I decided to use him in a short stop motion animation called “The Atom Kappa Show”, starring a frog, a kappa, and lee, who was the only thing that was live action in the animation. It was making fun of Scary Movie, because I really really really really really really really really really hated that film with the white hot intensity of 1000 suns. Lee played Keenan Ivory Wayans, and he was defending his movie. After this, he went on to star in the very first Atom Kappa Christmas animation, and many others.
Recently, when I would come home from work early, I’d take him outside and walk around the pool with him. He was pretty weak and had a hard time hanging on to my arm, but he looked like he was happy being out in the sun again.
He was my lizard for 11 years. Every morning since he died, I wake up and I go to get him food out of the fridge, and then I realize that there is no need for that. It’s going to be hard to break that habit. His memory will live on though, because I don’t plan to take him out of the Christmas animations anytime soon.
Rest in peace, my little Beebs. I love you and miss you.