Oh joy. Another earthworm. Can I ask what happened to the goldfish in the freshly filled water bowl we saw now and again during my first two months of captivity? Am I accurate in saying that we have exited our honeymoon phase?

Am I to suppose, now that the first bloom of romance is gone, that there’s no reason to bestir yourself to go to the pet shop when you can instead step into the backyard and merely kick over some leaves for my dinner?

Do you have any idea what it’s like eating an earthworm? No? Here’s what you do: take a ribbed condom, fill it with mud, dunk it in a bowl of chilled mucus, and—voilà.

Of course, I should be grateful. Don’t think I didn’t see what happened to the turtle in the next tank over. Always nice to soak in your own urine till your shell turns translucent and your beady little eyes turn milky blue. Good times. And what’s the story with that little experiment to determine whether lizards have rib bones? I think by now you’ve collected enough evidence to resume feeding them. Poor critters look fit for nothing but hanging in a Szechuan medicine cart.

Or, of course, you could just be a good fellow and let us all go?

Seriously. If you ever paid me a minute’s attention, I’d tell you how to find a little piece of freedom yourself:

You need to take it up a notch. This whole reptile-hobbyist thing I’m sure seemed like a great way to get a rise out of your parents at the time, but, really, you’re still just dipping bobbers in the well of their indifference.

Think about it. They have funded this whole endeavor, haven’t they? To the extent they think about it at all, they’ve probably decided it’s great you’re showing an interest in Nature, and maybe you’ve even empowered them to assume you’ll become a biologist or a doctor one day.

If you truly want them to behave like warm-blooded parents, you don’t need more of me and my cold-blooded friends. What you need is tattoos of me and my cold-blooded friends.

And maybe you need to discover some musical acts that have reptilian names. Death Adder and Lether Snake and Lizard King and bands like that.

And—who knows?—maybe you can make some human friends among those smoker kids at school who have the bad haircuts and safety pins in their ears and noses. Some of them are bound to have reptile nicknames and would be willing to skulk around your house on evenings and weekends.

Just think: there wouldn’t even be any cages that, in theory, you would have to clean.

I’m telling you, as with many, so many, things in this life, we reptiles are much more effective as notions than as actual manifestations.

Be a pal. Give it a try. This is no way for vertebrates to let other vertebrates live.