My post today has been inspired by a humorous chat I enjoyed with two of our guests this morning. This lovely couple had arrived on Friday for a two-night romantic break to celebrate their 32nd wedding anniversary. Lee had booked it as a surprise for his wife, and so could not tell her that he had been sometimes reading my blog. When he told me, in front of his wife, how entertaining he had found my posts, he particularly referred to the one I had entitled, ‘Almost down the rabbit hole!’ and we enjoyed a huge laugh together over my unfortunate incident! (https://bownessbedandbreakfast.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/almost-down-the-rabbit-hole/?preview=true&preview_id=2492&preview_nonce=c4ad7377d0)
Lee’s reference to that post reminded me of an incident in my youth, which I hope will make enjoyable reading. It involved a gullible 11-year old (me) who believed the old wife’s tale that dismembered chi chaks’ tails will jump into the nearest person’s ear. (Perhaps I still think so. I come from Singapore and we call the house geckos or lizards there chi chaks because of the chattering noise they make.)
Chi chaks are harmless and are actually very useful for eating and keeping down the usual insects that patrol any tropical home. One gets used to seeing them on the walls and ceilings of the house, but very, very seldom are they to be found on the floor. I remember the incident described below very clearly indeed.
There is a large first floor landing in my childhood home, and the family bathroom and three bedrooms lead off it. That sunny evening, I had just come out of the shower and was heading into my room to get dressed. I was probably about halfway across the landing when I stepped on something colder and lumpier than the flat concrete floor. I could not think what it was, as our servant always kept the our floors clean and free of any obstacles. This ‘thing’, however, was not only lumpy but also slightly squidgy.
And then IT wriggled. Letting out a squeal of fright, I hurriedly lifted up my foot only to see a speedy blur of movement which I recognised as a lizard without its tail. I had stepped on that poor lizard and it had detached itself from its tail in order to escape. Now I could see a tailless lizard running hell for leather to safety. Meanwhile, I stood stock still with shock as I watched the detached tailing doing high jumps. What was I to do?
I remembered all those stories of detached chi chaks’ tails jumping into unsuspecting people’s ears. I did not dare move forward or backward because that detached tail was flipping about frenziedly and I did not know which way it would jump. All I had on me was the towel that was concealing my modesty. I could not run as my feet were still wet and I would slip on the concrete floor. Oh dear!
As I pondered wildly in my 11-year old mind as to the best action available to me, I noticed that that tail was starting to hop less and limp more. I was not concerned about the gecko as I knew that its tail would grow back. It had probably experienced as much of a shock as I did. Poor thing. Chi chaks only shed their tails when they feel endangered and are desperate to escape.
However, now that the lizard’s tail seemed to have lost its momentum, my mind seemed to clear, and then I began to entertain the utmost disgust of my foot stepping on that little chi chak. Yuk! I kept replaying that horrible instance of stepping on a cold and slightly squashy reptile. I could still feel the sensation of doing so. I had just washed, and now my foot felt contaminated.
So I clutched my towel to my skinny frame and hopped back to the bathroom to wash my foot again and again and again. Eventually, I gave up. My foot was probably the cleanest foot in Singapore at that time of the evening on that day! Nothing but time was going to take away that horrible sensation of stepping on that poor traumatised chi chak.
I laugh at myself now as I think back to that well-remembered day. But do you know what? I can feel the underside of my right foot tingling lightly as I write. I think my right sole is harking back to that awful feeling of chi chak ‘stomping’ on that fateful day!
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