@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
After spending the morning running on the beach and swimming in the pristine turquoise blue water on my first day in Aruba, I noticed something a bit odd… I hadn’t seen a single lizard.
Could Aruba be a tropical island without lizards? This seemed impossible to me. I’d expected this place to be crawling with lizards, literally.
Comedy is a vocation in which you spends years and years doing shitty open mics and bar shows. And even when you reach the club levels and are getting paid, sometimes those gigs are less than less to brag about. Still, despite the hell gigs, restless nights if you’ll ever succeed, the fear that if you don’t make it, you’ll be older and have honed no skills except for joke writing— when you’re passionate enough about something, the light in your gut and the love of your art allows you the clarity that you’d rather fail chasing your dream than succeed in anything else.
This, however, doesn’t mean comedy is without it’s rewards. Sometimes it’s in a basement room in New York City where the crowd is hot and sharp, laughing at even your most subtle tags. Other times, it’s being on the road, opening for someone you idolize and have formed a friendship with. And then there’s those rare, almost amazing that they even exist gigs: like a gig in Aruba.
This is what brought me here, to this island— still buzzing from the previous nights show and waking up to a perfect beach, wondering, “where are the lizards?”
If there’s a beach, you’ll seldom find me by the pool. The ocean is infinitely better than any pool. Fearing that my not yet tanned skin was getting burned (indeed, it was), I retreated to my room to reapply sunblock. Then, I decided, to go write by the pool for a bit. And, here, I was distracted from getting work done because a six inch lizard with a florescent blue tail was walking around beneath my lounge chair. I was thrilled! I get really excited about shit like this!
I was enjoying a fruit cup and I tore off a piece of a strawberry and left it on the ground. Curious yet cautious, the lizard came over. It chewed on the strawberry, then spit it out and ate an ant instead. Well, there goes my peace offering. The longer I sat there (now more heavily distracted watching lizards than actually writing), these lizards were all over the place! Unlike Florida, where there are all sizes and colors, these all seemed to be of the same species. And I don’t recall seeing these types of lizards before. God knows, I don’t forget a lizard.
Ah, look at this one here!
And here’s another larger one with a bluer tail!
So, later in the lobby where I had the best wifi connection, I did a little research. These lizards are called Aruban Whiptails (or Cnemidophorus species of lizards). They are all female. This type of reproduction is called “parthenogenesis,” because they have two sets of chromosomes and an embryo develops from unfertilized eggs. So, basically, all these these are virgins. Like Mother Mary! All hail the Virgin Lizard Mommies!
Here’s where the fun facts get really fun: sometimes the female lizards have sex with each other even though they don’t need to. WHHAAATTTTT. I mean, who hasn’t been there in in their 20’s (am I right, ladies! tehehehe)? Interestingly enough, this simulated sex with their female counterparts seems to cause the lizards to produce more and/or bigger eggs. I’m not sure what’s more fascinating, these lesbian lizards or the scientists who figured this out by watching and studying lizards simulating sex with each other over and over and over again. Sexy!
Later, when meeting with fellow comedians, Ray, Dan, and Brian, I expressed my initial disappointment when I thought there were a lack of lizards and then my excitement when I finally met a lizard. They brushed this off not realizing the extent of my affinity towards reptiles. Also possible: they didn’t hear me because I mumble a lot and much of the trip entailed of them saying, “what did you mumble, mumbles Palminteri?”
Brian’s girlfriend said that the place used to be littered with giant geckos. Geckos?
“Geckos don’t get that big,” I told her. Surely, she was confusing geckos for another type of lizard. I didn’t want to sound like a Nat Geo super nerd who watches nature documentaries almost every night, but I wanted to steer her in the right direction to get to the bottom of this, so I added, “also, geckos are night critters.”
She thought for a second… Iguanas! Alas! Not geckos! Iguanas! Indeed, iguanas do get very large. And then I was hopeful I would see an iguana (or a gecko, as geckos are so cute).
The following day, I did see two large iguanas by the pool! How thrilling! (If you’re still reading this, you may be thinking, “why the fuck is this girl writing a whole blog dedicated to lizards? Is she going to post a picture of herself in a bikini on her Aruba trip?” Stay tuned!)
Hey, wait! Where you going?
Ah, there we go. Pose for me, beautiful.
Iguanas are not zany virgin lesbians like the beautiful blue whiptails. Actually, Iguanas are quite territorial. Like many of lizards, the males will fight over a female. They get real aggressive and bite each other, and the female watches and she’s like, “geez, you guys are so IMMATURE.” Usually the bigger one wins because nature. Sometimes, even when a male succeeds in chasing off another suitor, the female will not be into it, and she’ll run away. Sometimes she gets away. Sometimes he mounts her does the dirty. It takes about two seconds. A lot of work for a quick and unsatisfying lay. And then lots of their babies get eaten by birds and other lizards. Nature is mostly rape and eating babies.
But lizards aren’t always so rapey. Lots of times a lizard will show off it’s colorful dewlap or even do a little dance to impress a female (awwww!!!!!). It’s quite fascinating. Though, not quite as fascinating as birds mating rituals. I’ve learned from past experiences that people generally do not give a shit about bird mating rituals. They would rather talk about human sex, which I guess makes a degree of sense.
Of course, in Aruba, human females are taking repeated selfies to look their sexiest so to post on Instagram, “look at how hot and happy I am.” And the human males stare at the women, and eye the other men staring at their woman. The animal kingdom instincts ever present in the most advanced and evolved species. A lone traveler, an observer and comedian, quietly watching a live nature show.
Youngins run amuck by the pool. They annoy me. But that’s okay. I was once young and annoying, running around and climbing things, like a lemur. Sure, humans are capable of pretty atrocious acts, but at least we’re not eating each others babies like most of the animal kingdom. We have that going for us.
A flashback comes to me as I see two kids scramble to catch a lizard. I think of my brother and sister, and the hours of joy chasing and catching lizards brought to us when we were young.
“Mom, he got away!” The little boy says to his mom.
“Actually,” I say, “he’s a she. They’re all she’s. THE LIZARD FUTURE IS FEMALE!”
(I may or may not have said that last part out loud.)
I realize it is pretentious and borderline stupid to have an epilogue at the end of a blog. But I would like to thank Ray Ellin for booking me on this amazing trip with fun gigs and excursions. This will forever be one of my more treasured comedy memories. Also, Dan Naturman and Brian Scott McFadden. I was so excited to be on this trip with these guys because they are both super funny and terrifically great guys.
If you ever have the opportunity, go see these guys perform live.
Also, go to Aruba.