The Lizard Man
Copyright 2018 by Lauren Buss
day in mid-February sees beautiful weather here in Houston. Pleasant
temperatures are more common than they are made out to be in this
strange place where winter feels like spring, spring feels like
summer, and summer feels like the belly of the devil. The mildness of
this particular Friday morning coaxes me out of hiding and onto the
porch. I am armed with a cup of coffee and my busily annotated copy
of Donleavy’s The
Ginger Man, a personal recipe for
had experienced some self inflicted turmoil over the past week due to
the uprooting eclipse in Aquarius. Luckily, I had lately found myself
in a more objective mindset; I was able to see these events as new
beginnings rather than endings. (“These events” being a
devastating car accident that left me stranded approximately 30 miles
away from my fiancé, and an unpleasant epiphany about my
dependence on drugs and dishonesty.)
Subconsciously, I decided to
revisit The Ginger Man
in order to provide myself with some
perspective. Sebastian Dangerfield, a self proclaimed genius, walks
through life drunk and dishonest completely unaware that the
destruction and devastation that follows him is his own doing. The
story resonates, to say the least. It is nice, convenient, to
experience a true rock
bottom via literary empathy; to learn these lessons from Mr.
Dangerfield’s mistakes rather than my own. The Ginger Man, all
literature really, provides me with much needed perspective in times
where I would rather not think about anyone but myself. The coffee
just tastes good.
my thighs stick to the plastic lawn chair. February is a respite from
high temperatures, but no such respite exists from relentless
humidity. I think to myself that pants would have served me better than
shorts, but do nothing about it. Ugly as the inside of the
is (my dad commonly
refers to it as a “crap hole”), the courtyard makes up
for it in a strange way. Two beautiful fountains that haven’t
been on in years are in the process of being overrun by wild grasses
that miraculously stop at the concrete path which serves as a border
between the nature and the doors of the dwellings. Shrubs and trees
of various species are scattered as if on accident; I know however
that they were very deliberately planted many years ago by my dads
sister. My mind wanders, and I realize that the plants in the courtyard
as a curious metaphor for the vast array of tenants. One
would have a
hard time denying that this
place has a very peculiar energy about it. Undecipherable. That’s
a good descriptor. An old and simple place that seems to have no
right to exist in complex uptown. To me, it is
too easy to call it nasty and run down.
find The Ginger Man
particularly entertaining on this day, but I
don’t get more than one chapter read before I am distracted by
a strange sight: A young but bearded man in orange slides
wielding a bug catching net. I am interested, but shy. I hide behind
my book. Aware that shy people can easily come off as snobby, my hope
is that the book will serve to say “I am not a snobby, I am
just very interested in Donleavy’s The
Ginger Man!” From
over the top of the book, I watch intently as this man searches the
shrubs and roots with the end of his net. He is absorbed in the work
to say the least, enough so that I feel comfortable placing the book
in my lap. I allow myself to stare and wonder what he could possibly
be doing. A few sips of coffee. A few minutes of guessing to no end.
I come to the conclusion that I will inquire as soon as he turns
he turned and I initiated eye contact. “What are you looking
for, if you don’t mind?”
feed my lizard.”
I see. Why another lizard? Why not some bugs?”
hard to find bugs out here.”
not go to a fishing store? Stock up on crickets?”
is the nearest fishing store?”
was satiated to allow him to return to the hunt. The last thing I
wanted was for his lizard to go hungry.
is that you’re reading?”
about the way he speaks cues to me that he is not interested in great
literature, but I am more confident in the danger of assumptions.
Ginger Man” I reply.
Gingerbread Man?” He asks.
laugh. Part of me wants to entertain that prospect, pay a
prank on this man wh quite obviously who cares more about the
circumference of my legs than the book. My recent mental
however stops me from being dishonest.
“No, no. The Ginger Man.
It’s about an
American man, a student, who moves to Ireland and screws it
up. His life I mean.”
He nods in response then asks me my name.
That’s a pretty name.” I disagree but it’s nice to
mother thought so too, and yours?”
I know from experience that is likely not his real name, but I also
sometimes people give out pseudonyms for a reason, so I don’t
an interesting name. What is your birthday?”
19th.” A Virgo/Libra cusp.
is September 30th.” Pure Libra. My rising is Cancer and my moon
is Capricorn, but it seems too trivial to mention.
of lizard do you have?”
Clark.” I cannot help but laugh at this.
“Why Captain Clark?”
“He used to be
named Isabella but then we found out he was a he, so we changed it.
Captain I. Clark.”
clever. No one else's business what the I stands for.”
nice to meet you. Good luck finding lunch for the Captain.”
He says as he returns to the grasses, and I return to my book. As I
read I breathe a silent wish that Free finds a lizard for the
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher