Raining Cats, Dogs, and Lizards 

As we all know, California is the goofiness capital of the known universe (and likely the unknown one as well). But my native Florida is no slouch when it comes to the odd.

Much of the odd takes place in the southeastern part of the Sunshine State, which draws so many immigrants from the Northeast that it is often referred to (at least by me) as Baja New Jersey. And this is the location of a story making national rounds about the plague of falling iguanas. South Florida officials are warning residents not to stand under trees without their hard hats, lest they be struck and injured by cold-numbed, falling iguanas.

As that great philosopher, Dave Barry, would surely put it: I’m not making this up.

That’s right. Falling iguanas. Even with well below normal temperatures on the peninsula (three straight mornings in the thirties in Tampa), Florida has been Margaritaville compared to points north. But it still has been cold enough to put cold-blooded iguanas into a swoon. The lean, green lizards then fall from their accustomed perches in trees and do a pretty good impersonation of a possum running his sleep scam.

These prostrate iguanas aren’t dead, so no one should bury them. They’re just in a state of acute sluggishness, from which they will recover when the warm returns. As someone once said, it’s not easy being green, especially when temperatures fall below 50. And, oh yeah, don’t handle them either. They tend to be cross when they come out of their trance, and you wouldn’t want an iguana nip. Do not under any circumstance attempt to give them mouth-to-mouth.

Had I encountered one of these lethargic lizards before learning the true reason for their torpor, I would have speculated that they had just been watching soccer or daytime TV. Or perhaps been listening to old Gerry Ford speeches. This last would put a leprechaun to sleep on St. Patrick’s Day.

Raining iguanas are a relatively new problem in South Florida. They’re what’s known in the ecology trade as an “invasive species.’ They’re native to Central and South America and have been brought to Florida by less than helpful homo sapiens sapiens. The immigrants from the Northeast are also an invasive species, but they tolerate the cold better and don’t tend to fall out of trees. Most (though, God help us, not all) are better-looking than the iguanas, which have, how shall I put this, less than leading-man looks.

But falling lizards aren’t even the strangest item out of Florida. In a recent story in the Gainesville Sun we learn that a new kind of business will be coming to town in late January or early February. The new biz will be an “infusion therapy center,” like ones which, the Sun writer assures us, are operating in other cities. At the center, customers can be hooked up to a variety of IV drips which contain fluids helpful for various conditions, including, Revival IV Lounge owner Nichole Pogue says, hangovers. This might be a huge draw, as Gainesville is the site of the University of Florida, home to more than 50,000 students, a large fraction of whom are not strangers to beer in large quantities. Reservations recommended for Sunday mornings.

According to the Sun story, Pogue says the various drips are good for a host of things, including energy boosts, stress reduction, quick muscle repair, or just increased hydration, which, Pogue says, a large chunk of the population is in need of. The drips can help after an exceptionally rigorous workout. The whole business, Pogue says, will take place on comfortable recliners in a “spa-like atmosphere” and will be overseen by registered nurses and supervised by a medical director. (Pogue is a nurse anesthetist herself, and should know from drips.) The 11 drips on offer at opening, the story tells us, will set back dripees from $85 to $175 (which could make for an expensive hangover for the average college student, and this doesn’t include the cost of the beer).

I will temper my amazement here. On first reading, the story struck me as bizarre. But in this large, diverse, and affluent country, there’s a market for just about anything. And I’m the last person to discourage creative entrepreneurship. I’ve never worked out hard enough at the gym to feel the need to hang out with a bunch of drips afterward. But if others do, I will raise no objection to it. Welcome to the IV league, Gainesville.

Larry Thornberry
Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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