Write a newspaper ad to sell a young iguana who only talks in rhyme.
Amaze your friends with the all-purpose talking iguana from Wunder Pets! Only $14.99 plus S&H!
Jimmy read and re-read the back of the current issues of Laugh magazine. In the three years of his addiction to this publication, never before had he seen such an alluring and offbeat advertisement. But now, among the magic tricks and greeting card opportunities, he was staring at the best offer any 13-year-old could ever imagine.
Who wouldn't want a talking pet? Think of the cool factor with the kids at school. Everybody would want to visit with him and have a chance to hear the animal speak. His popularity would skyrocket.
"Mom," he called downstairs, "can I go on the computer?"
"For what purpose?" came the reply from the kitchen. Jimmy's mom was a cautious arbiter of screen time.
"I want to work on my banking spreadsheet."
"Go ahead." She likely thought Jimmy was taking the initiative to balance his savings and college accounts. He'd received multiple lectures about the importance of managing one's finances, and how he would need to demonstrate simple, common sense money management before he would see a marked increase in his allowance.
But Jimmy just wanted to check and make sure he had the requisite funds to purchase his iguana and resulting ticket to fame. He pulled the laptop from its charging station and carried it to the desk, opening and powering it up en route.
By the time he set it down and arranged the mouse cord, his desktop was ready and the system had connected to "FBI Surveillance Van," the home wireless. Jimmy's dad considered himself a jokester and was immensely pleased with this network name.
Jimmy launched his browser and opened his spreadsheet. As of the end of the previous month, he had $347.09 in his "fun" account, separate from the $866.10 held safely away in his college account. His parents had made a point of setting up the two accounts so that he could watch his financial future grow. They'd also set up automatic monthly allowance payments, with equal amounts going to each. College was essentially untouchable, and "fun" was spending money. He was of course encouraged to move portions of "fun" to "college" to increase the investment in his future. He was of course a 13 year old and had no intention of locking those precious "fun" dollars away.
He logged off, powered down his computer, and re-docked it for charging. He went downstairs and found his mom cleaning the stovetop, a weekly occurrence due to the family's addiction to bacon.
"Mom, can you help me mail away for a talking iguana?"
"Seriously, Jimmy?" she responded with a humorless sigh.
"I saw it on the back of Laugh and I thought it'd be cool. I have the money. Can you write a check for me and I'll pay you back?"
"Jimmy, seriously?" she repeated. Jimmy was tempted to make a sarcastic comment about her hearing, but thought better of it.
"Yeah, Mom - I've never tried any of the stuff they sell, but this sounds really neat. Can you? Will you?"
"Jimmy, they can't possibly have talking iguanas. They just want your money and they're tricking kids like you into sending it to them. You know that, right?"
"But Mom, it's Laugh. It's a real magazine. They wouldn't try take money from kids for nothing, would they?"
"No," his mom sighed loudly for about the fourth time. "They wouldn't outright bilk you out of your money, but it won't be what you think. When I was a kid, my Richie Rich magazines advertised Sea Monkees - tiny, humanoid sea creatures that would colonize your fish tank and smile endearingly at you. They turned out to be ordinary shrimp brine with none of the cartoony characteristics that were illustrated on the advertisement. They were a big disappointment and money-waster."
"But Mom," Jimmy tried again, "they say it's a talking iguana! Even if it's a baby iguana, it's guaranteed to talk, right?"
"Jimmy, I won't argue with you anymore. I'm just saying that it's an unlikely promise and that they're likely to have thought of an angle that you haven't considered. But if it's what you want to spend your money on, you can do as you like. Fill out your order slip and leave it on the table. I'll write a check for you and you can mail it in the morning."
The next morning Jimmy took his completed order, stamped and addressed, and dropped it in the wall of the post office on his way to school.
That Friday, just three days later, Jimmy arrived home from school to find a package waiting for him on the mail table. The words "LIVE ANIMAL" were stickered on all 6 sides and there were a series of screen holes at both ends.
"It's here!" he yelled delightedly. He heard a clatter from the kitchen as he rummaged in a basket in search of a pair of scissors.
"It came this morning," his mom said as she appeared in the doorway. "The postman rang the doorbell and left it on the step, so I brought it in as soon as it arrived. I'm a little concerned that it hasn't made a sound, though..." she trailed off, demonstrating the concern she had either for the life of the creature contained within or for Jimmy's feelings that she feared would be crushed shortly by the ruse of exotic purchases from a boy's magazine.
Jimmy found the scissors and carefully sliced the creases of the packing tape the held each edge. He was careful to keep the box flat on the table while he did so, slowly rotating it as he proceeded. He did not acknowledge his mother's concern. He lifted off the top and...
An iguana blinked at him from the confines of a shoebox-sized mesh cage.
Jimmy blinked back, mouth open, surprised to find that he was indeed the new owner of an iguana. Jimmy's mother mirrored the look, as well.
"Well, hello," said Jimmy to his new friend. "What shall we call you?"
The iguana blinked again.
"I wonder how it's supposed to talk," he said. "How do I have a conversation with my talking iguana?"
"Jimmy," his mom responded, "I'm just glad for you that the company sent you a live iguana. I really didn't think it would come as we expected. As for the talking, though, the plain truth is that iguanas simply don't talk."
"Well, most of us don't," said the iguana.
Jimmy and his mom blinked at the iguana.