At first you think it is some kind of bright-green plastic brooch. But just as you are standing there with your low-fat milk and deli ham, examining the collar around the reptile's neck, the leash attached by a safety pin to its owner's shirt, and the owner itself, its eyes move.
Suddenly it jettisons its long tongue to catch a fly and the whole check- out line takes a leap in the air with fright.
"Dogs are meant to be left outside," said the store manager, rather ineffectually. "And so are flies!" replied the chameleon owner as he paid for his groceries.
Sometimes I worry about the toll that living here in West Hollywood takes. I mean, do such occurrences take place in other towns? I really don't know any more. Perhaps I'm too conservative. But doesn't anyone else think it's odd that it's currently fashionable to wear a live reptile on your shirt as an accessory?
I've met circus trainers, in the past, who carry pythons around their necks as a party trick. But these are everyday American citizens who decide in the morning, "Mmm, yes, I think I'll wear the pink shirt and the green reptile". And they do. Hundreds of them. It's absolutely the in thing on the streets here.
Of course LA has always had a reputation for the weird and wonderful. But I wonder if it has "gotten", as they say around here, even weirder. These days every LA inhabitant needs to become acclimatised to the various forms of body mutilation, if only to avoid the social embarrassment of throwing up when seeing the latest bizarre trend.
My gay neighbour has taken to wearing a bone through his nose recently - a long, thin one that stretches to either side of his face, African style. He's pierced everything else that one could possibly pierce ("Yes, even that," he assures me), tattooed all visible skin and finally decided on a nose bone because he's run out of ideas.
My hairdresser has had her tongue pierced with a nut and bolt. The man at our corner shop wears a series of studs that look like they have just been hammered into his skull, and the local bathing belles all sport belly button and eyebrow rings.
What's next? I asked my gay neighbour. "Trepanning," he told me. "It's where you drill a small hole into your skull, at which point you are meant to find enlightenment."
Perhaps that's another word for fainting.Reuse content