Shannon Kidd

Someone’s birthday is celebrated every day of the year, and it seems I’m determined to celebrate them all. Having been raised a Jehovah’s Witness, birthday celebrations don’t hold the same weight for me as for others. Of course you were born. How else would I know you? And obviously you survived another year. Otherwise, how could you have sent me an invitation? Although, I must also admit to a diabolic scheme I’d devised during my ill-fated marriage.

The dream was for my spouse to delay the announcement of my death until my next birthday, and send out invitations for a surprise party. The surprise being my embalmed body wearing a party hat. As I type this, I realize the humor might be lost on some, but anyone willing to attend a party in my honor is also twisted enough to appreciate my sense of humor, rejoice at the sight of my festive cadaver, and have no difficulty socializing and eating cake upon learning of my demise. In comic circles, we call it “sticking to the bit.”

Luckily, today’s birthday man crush isn’t dead. To the contrary, he’s alive, well, and pimped out in all white from head to toe. That detail alone justifies the attraction that anyone with at least one sense feels in his presence. Have you ever tried wearing all white? Or any white, at all? In my lived experience, it’s impossible. The moment skin makes contact with any white garment, the cloth becomes a dingy gray and brown Rorschach test. Not so for today’s protagonist. White hat, white shirt, white track suit, and white sneakers all intact while eating non-white foods. He must be a wizard.

I’ve been invited to this abode on numerous occasions, but multiple jobs and a level of social anxiety that Howard Hughes might appreciate have always stood in the way. Even tonight, I’ll need to leave before the party gets dummy, to work a graveyard shift. For whatever reason, I’d always assumed Mr. White-Suit and his equally fashionable roommate lived in a house. Instead, they share a humble apartment with at least two lizards—a bearded dragon and an antisocial chameleon.

Upon entering, I commit a social faux pas by stepping directly from wet dirt and pavement onto a carefully maintained and ultra-plush rug. This rug has clearly been selected for optimal seating, rolling around on psychedelics, and perhaps the incidental midday nap—definitely not for filthy shoes. In the middle of the rug is a small coffee table, on which sits a large jar of cannabis—because in the Pacific Northwest, can one truly call a home a home without an oversized jar of weed kept in plain view? It’s the Northwestern equivalent of a white flag. When greeted by weed, you know the homeowner (renter, if we’re being realistic) desires our health, happiness, and longevity. If a guest has any sense of etiquette or decorum, they will respond by placing a goodwill offering of joints or a bag of herb next to the jar, like a religious ceremony without the bullshit.

Surrounding the rug are equally cozy couches occupied by a cultural hodgepodge of guests, and tucked in the corner are two lizard habitats. The bearded lizard is resting on a heating pad in front of the chameleon’s habitat, in which said chameleon sits on a branch attempting to camouflage with the surrounding foliage. To be fair, chameleons do a kickass job of invisibility, but I have human eyes and a greater desire to see lizards than I do to interact with friends and family. Beside the bearded lizard is a tiny wardrobe of lizard-sized hoodies, gutterpunk vests, and a felted leopard-print hat. I have to assume this scaly fellow is an avid fan of Fishbone, allowing us an opportunity to bond over our common auditory pleasures. Granted, I may be projecting the musical preferences and, being a lizard, he’s likely bonding with my ability to produce body heat—but I’ll take what I can get.

What I can get includes: a simple yet ample cheese and sausage plate, dolmades, a chilled carton of white wine, and a bowl of the most deliciously decadent mac and cheese a human or lizard has ever known, though I assume the lizard favors the bed of baby kale he seductively licks from time to time.

Partying is such a delight, and parting is such weak sorrow. Ten points out of 10 for lizards and birthdays.