Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Should I stand on a chair and scream?

I'm all for pointing out that being transgender is not just about clothes. Other interests and behaviours are involved as well and, in many ways, I think that is the key. I wear dresses because it fits my understanding of myself, not because they're a kink, a fetish, an interest, a persuasion or just the latest fashion must-have. I've never been into sports league statistics, overhead camshafts or acting tough. So that puts paid to my male credentials, right? And I like flowers, giggles and high heels. So that's proof I must be a woman, yes?

Let's look at this from the point of view of a mad episode this week with my back garden menagerie. In the last few weeks I've been talking a lot about the lizards and other critters who live in my plant pots. 

On Sunday evening I was watering the plants and noticed a tiny gecko on the wall, about an inch and a half long. Geckos are very common here so I took little notice, but when I'd finished and gone back indoors I realised it had gone into my living room. I was about to close the door for the night and, as there are slim pickings for insect-eaters in my home, I thought it best to encourage it out. So I picked up a piece of paper to guide it in the right direction but accidentally dropped the sheet onto the gecko, who responded by shedding its tail. 

This is an instinctual response by a number of reptiles to distract predators and it's an amazing tactic as the tiny detached tail with its bright colouration wriggled and writhed about on the floor. If I were a cat or other predator, I'd have been mesmerised by it. It was pretty fascinating even for someone who knew what was happening. That's the point: the potential predator gets distracted by the tail and so the bulk of the tasty gecko gets away. I was upset, though, that I'd been so clumsy and the gecko had reacted as though I were an enemy. Although the gecko will regrow its tail, the second tail is never quite as good as the first and there may be no scope for a third tail if ever necessary. I'm sorry about that, I really am. 

I couldn't coax the now inch-long gecko from under the sofa so I left the door open in the hope it would go back out in the night, even though an open back door is an obvious security issue for me. 

The next morning, Monday, there was no sign of geckos or burglars indoors so I shut the door and carried on with my day. That evening I went to water the plants again and the crazy thing scuttled back into my living room! Here it is, minus tail.

You're a stickler for trouble, my little intruder! Again, I grabbed the first piece of paper I could find and, gripping firmly this time, scooped the critter up, stepped outdoors and, as I would with a spider or insect, wafted the paper upside down to shed its load, forgetting that geckos have a unique grip. It clung on for dear life and no matter what shaking or fluttering I did, the wretched thing stuck to my paper, which I now noticed was my bill from the water company. (Ah, yes, a bill for water we can now use only during limited hours of the day! They still charge us full rate, the bandits!) Look, Gordon Gecko, you want to grip my water bill, you can pay for it! I clung on, it clung on and this tug-of-paw went on for some time. 

There is a scientific theory that geckos have such impressive grip because their skin is designed to have such close contact with the surface they are walking on that the electrons of the gecko's atoms exchange with electrons of surface atoms thus creating a tight bond. Other scientists dispute this theory. What I want to know, though, is if I rip this gecko off my water bill, do the atoms split and will there therefore be an atomic explosion? And if so, do I need to pay my bill? "Sorry, but my bill was destroyed in an act of war by our lizard overlords!" Could we parachute mini geckos into the Kremlin so when the KGB pull them off the walls the place is exploded brick by brick? A scientist friend tells me I am being fanciful. I dare say there's a Hollywood summer blockbuster script right there, though!

I digress! In the end, the gecko finally got the message, let go and scuttled off into the night. I've seen several of his still-betailed companions a number of times this week. 

But this brings me (finally) to the point. Traditionally, women are supposed to stand on a chair and scream when they see a mouse or even a spider in the house. But I think little creatures are quite cute, as long as they don't sting. Does this call my female credentials into question? 

A female cousin of mine went crazy when a gecko entered her house and she spent a frantic time trying to shoo it off the ceiling with a broom. One of my sisters would have had a fit if she'd had to deal with a writhing gecko tail! She hates all insects, too, and once missed a train because the station platform had an advertising hoarding with a poster with a caterpillar on it that she couldn't bear to look at. This is the sister who hates LGBT people and this general sense of fear and disgust for the unusual or potentially dangerous is, I think, the overarching driver of all her many prejudices. Indeed, behavioural scientists feel that a lot of religious, political and social thinking can be driven simply by one's innate fears of certain things. Emotions like disgust or terror can make a difference at the ballot box, and I don't think you need much scientific background to realise that. Some people are more worried by bugs or innovation or speaking or heights or strangers or whatever than others, and that affects their interactions. But it doesn't follow that women generally are driven by these phobias. My uncle can't stand non-fluffy animals either. Years ago I was staying with my grandmother when a bat got in. She was furious because a creature had got into her nice clean tidy home and was messing up the proper order of the universe. Bats live outside, people in; for her, that's the way it is! My uncle, then in his 30s, crawled into his bed and pulled the covers over his head in case the mad bat got him! I had to deal with it, wasn't able to shoo the frightened thing out, and got fed up with the gibbering and screaming from the other occupants of the house so I just closed the bedroom door on them, went to bed and let the thing flap and bang about my bedroom all night till it worked out which way was out in the cold light of morning. 

My post is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as you'll doubtless have gathered. This thing of women standing on chairs and screaming does show that male/female stereotypes do pervade our thinking much of the time. Each of us has our natural instincts, a collection of them, unique to us. I like geckos; I hate wasps. I have no interest in chick-magnet cars, either as owner or passenger; but I will buy every colour if I find a special style of tights I like. Does that make me more feminine, less masculine? Or vice versa, as I didn't scream when the gecko chucked its tail. Or am I just a human being with a particular range of behaviours, preferences and desires? An instinct I just can't shake, though, is that I am, deep down and in my core, a woman.

Well, that's about it from Sue's Zoos and Views for today. Never let the reptiles take over your life!

 Sue x


  1. "...what shaking or fluttering I did, the wretched thing stuck to my paper, which I now noticed was my bill from the water company..."

    That evocative image did cause a chuckle. I can only apologise! 🙂

    Ooo, a gecko emoji! 🦎

    Where was I? I think most folk are a mix of things - sexuality, gender, interests, etc. I am hopeful that people feel okay to be out and proud about their inner nerd, geek, or wonk interests.

    There are some behaviours of interests that are perceived to be more A than B, and vice versa. That draws a funny look from some people.

    For example, the Venn Diagram of disinterest includes watching paint dry, governance talks, and pretty much any type of sport. 😋 But, for others, that may be their idea of heaven.

    Do you need a gecko flap? Something mid ceiling to let the wee buggers out? 🙂

    1. My post was only half serious. I didn't know whether to talk about deep stuff like behaviour or describe my disagreement with a crazy critter so I thought I'd combine both! The idea of a gecko flap had occurred to me but I suspect the determined can get in by means of other small openings like the bathroom fan and maybe even the air conditioning. ...My god, the whole place could be raided! Sue xx

  2. This reminds me of the scene in Aliens with the motion trackers 🙂

    1. Thinks: Must ... pay ... more ... attention ... to ... details ... in ... movies! That said, I have taken your recommendation and purchased a bumper book of Iain M Banks novels so I'm not a total sci-fi dolt. I'll let you know how I get on. Sue xx

  3. Interesting post Sue.

    My daughter screams at the mere sight of a spider, even a tiny one and she's running for cover. Our eldest child who is trans and now lives full time as a male has never been bothered at all by them and he often comes to the rescue and removes spiders in the house for his sister.

    Glad the gecko is okay.