Safety forced 

We’re getting ready for an evening of fun, kicked off with a few shots of tequila and a blast of warmish weather. I’m dressed to kill, in a pair of knock-’em-dead shoes and a dress to die for.

"Are you ready?" I ask the Lizard of Fun, who’s been shooting the breeze on the phone.

"Almost," it shouts. "Don’t kill yourself waiting. You can go ahead and blast on outta here if you like."

I decide to wait, and when the Lizard comes into the living room, the sight makes me glad I did. It’s wearing its most outrageous outfit yet: A pair of steel-toed construction boots, flameproof pants, and a bright orange, bulletproof lifejacket. On its head is a motorcycle helmet with a full-face shield and clenched between its jaws is a plastic mouth guard.

"Fetish party?" I ask.

The Lizard shakes its head and mumbles something around the mouth guard. "Bum chasing."


"Fun safety," repeats the Lizard, after emptying its mouth. "The news these days is all politicians calling for fun safety, and I want to make sure I’m on top of it."

"Are you sure that’s – ?" I begin, pointing at the daily paper and the latest piece of violence on the front page.

"Absoshootinglutely," says the Lizard. "It’s what all the candidates are on about. If I’m going to get that Green Party presidential nomination, it can’t just be because of my complexion. No, Freak Girl, I’ve gotta walk the walk."

"In a Kevlar lifejacket?"

"You never know," says the Lizard, adjusting its straps. "I’m going to demonstrate fun safety to one and all tonight. Come on!"

First stop is for a quick pint, an activity the Lizard has long considered especially fun. But as it sits despondently over its glass, I sense something’s wrong. It sighs.

"I was worried about getting too drunk to drive, so I ordered a nonalcoholic beer," says the Lizard. "What’s the fun in that?"

I offer a sip of my own full-strength brew.

The Lizard eagerly indulges, but the face shield gets in the way. "Aww, hell," it says, removing it and slugging down a good portion of my beer. "That’s better. Now, more fun."

We decide to go dancing, but when we finally sneak past the dress code-enforcing bouncers and onto the floor, the Lizard cuts loose for only a few moments before it slumps against a nearby barfly.

"What now?"

"My feet hurt," says the Lizard, unlacing its boots and kicking them off. "That’s better. Now I could really use a cigar." It hails a passing cigarette girl. "Got any lite cigars? I don’t want to risk lung cancer, you know."

The cigarette girl shakes her head. "Right, then," says the Lizard. "Gimme your worst. I suppose I’m all set to shoot myself in the foot here when it comes to safety, anyway."

It picks up a lighter, and tries to set fire to the cigar, but nothing happens. I point out the safety latch. "Damn, even lighter companies have me beat," says the Lizard. "Some safety advocate I am." Dejected, it pulls off its flameproof pants, and stands there in its shorts.

"Don’t feel bad," I say, trying to cheer it up. "Let’s do something wild and crazy, like go ice fishing in a public fountain."

"Ice fishing?" says the Lizard, incredulously. "Are you insane? That’s so totally unsafe this time of year!"

"Well, wanna shoot some pool?" I ask, but the Lizard shakes its head. "Can’t bend over right in this vest."

"How about laser tag? Paintball? Video arcade? Whack-a-mole?"

The Lizard sighs. "Let’s just go home. Believe it or not, I’m not having any fun."

The Lizard discards the rest of its safety gear, and slumps in the passenger seat. "I’ll never get to be president like this," it says sadly. "I need to have a clear standpoint on fun safety."

"Come on," I say. "All the political posturing in the world isn’t going to help. There’s no such thing as fun safety. As long as there’s fun, there’s going to be an element of risk involved."

"You’re right," says the Lizard. "Just calling for fun safety won’t work. If we think that’s all it takes, we don’t deserve to have fun at all."

We drive along for a few minutes, grimly listening to the car radio and even more breaking news about violence.

"So," I say, to cut the mood, "I noticed you had just about every activity covered with that outfit of yours, but there’s one part I can’t figure out. What’s with the flameproof pants?"

The Lizard gives me a look that says you-mean-you-haven’t-noticed-my-hot-butt? But then it shrugs.

"Safety first, Freak Girl. When there’s fun to be had, you just never know when or where someone’s gonna open fire."

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