I have a tattoo. I have a few pierced body parts. But, hey, so does almost everybody these days compared with some peoples more creative body adornments, I blend into the background like a chameleon lounging on a beige, 80s-era sectional sofa.
"Or like a lizard perched on an IKEA barstool?" asks the Lizard of Fun, swiveling very noticeably on its latest favorite seat.
"Not quite," I say. "Think dull. Think blah. Think February in Detroit."
The Lizard shrugs. "Think quit whining. Whyntcha dye your hair purple? Grow a moustache? Get some mirrored insets installed in your forehead? You know, some people actually do something about their looks when they dont like them."
But, I protest, with all the bodily modification possibilities out there, how do you choose?
The Lizard shrugs. "Check out the possibilities, the practicalities, the pain factor then narrow it down to whats most likely to match your desire to look different. Like, how did you decide to get tattooed?"
"I didnt. My mom wanted one, but she wouldnt go unless I went, too."
The Lizard gives me one of its ah-so-freakiness-runs-in-families looks. "And the piercings?"
"Right. Then how about this?" says the Lizard, flipping open a newspaper article its clearly been saving for just the right moment. "Im so touched theres a guy who wants to look just like me!"
In disbelief, I look at the article the Lizard is holding. As it turns out, Erik Sprague, a philosophy student in Albany, NY, and clearly a dedicated human chameleon, has been changing his appearance so he looks more like a lizard. Hes installed bumps in his forehead, tattooed scales on his skin, and even had his tongue surgically split so it looks forked.
"What kind of lizard do you suppose hes trying to be?" I ask, but the Lizard shrugs.
"Who cares? Hes making himself into one of us! This is soooo cool! Its way better than that British babe whos had all those plastic surgeries to make herself look like Barbie."
"You bet. She just had implants and facelifts and tummy tucks. This guy has had his tongue forked! Imagine! Barbie would never have a forked tongue. This is on a completely different scale."
"So to speak," I say. "So, OK, Im ready for something different. Lets find out whats possible."
The Lizard fires up the laptop and gets itself hooked into our friendly Internet service provider. But when it tries to hit the Yahoo! site, nothing happens.
Frustrated, we wait, and then try again. Nothing. And then, when were looking for a book about piercings on amazon.com, the same thing happens: nothing. We are, as well find out later, in the great inconvenient throes of trying to access these sites at the same time as they, along with eBay, buy.com and CNNs Web sites, are under a massive hacker attack.
What happened was someone, possibly in California or Oregon, possibly not, managed to incapacitate these popular Web sites by, well, using them. An amazon.com executive called it "junk traffic" in other words, incoming requests kept the site so swamped customers couldnt use it to buy anything.
"Hmmm," says the Lizard. "So, as far as theyre concerned, its the computer equivalent of having a crowd of people in a shop who are just browsing, thereby preventing the real spenders from shopping?"
"Uh-huh. And with Yahoo!, I suppose it was like having too many people asking for information at once."
"Isnt that what Yahoo! is supposed to do? Provide information about important stuff like how to turn yourself into a lizard?"
"Well, theoretically, yes. But when people do this smurfing, as Ive heard it called, its like what they worried would happen if everyone picked up their phone on New Years, just to see if it had a dial tone."
"Smurfing?" asks the Lizard, disgusted.
"I didnt invent the name."
But the Lizard ignores me, and gazes fondly at the article about Lizardman Erik. "You know, you should really do this. A few bumps, a crest of scales, it might be just the change youre looking for. You, too, could look like a hacker."
I stare at the Lizard uncomprehendingly. "A hacker? Somehow I dont think computer hackers are necessarily pierced, body-modifying types."
"You mean," says the Lizard, looking disappointed, "Hack doesnt refer to what they do to their tongues?"
"Ugh," I say. "It means theyre jamming up computers with too much of a good thing."
"I get it. Like releasing that Scream 3 hackfest in thousands of theaters all at once. Yknow, I dont think they were hackers."
The Lizard shakes its head. "Nope. Im convinced. It was merely thousands of trendsetters, all wondering how to turn into lizards. No wonder we couldnt get through."