I'm pretty sure I don't know many people my own age who didn't win a chameleon as a prize at the traveling carnival as a kid. Especially in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Carnivals, Rodeos and Fairs would award us with these fantastic, gorgeous little creatures that we had no idea how to care for. Frankly, we were children and could barely take care of ourselves.
The little lizards came equipped with a tiny red string around their necks that were attached to a tiny little gold safety pin. This enabled us to pin it to our shirts and thus, thwart their otherwise inevitable escape. As I recall, they were only about 2" to 2-1/2" in length and maybe 1/2" wide. They were very sweet but hey, they were on a leash.
How were we to know we were actually torturing these delicate little guys that had no defense against us? As it turns out, the only defense mechanisms they had were the very reasons we all wanted to win one. We were told, as children, that chameleons would change colors when placed next to different colors. I'm pretty sure it wasn't drastic change but we did see some. Or we just thought we did. They were really anole lizards but no kid wanted a prize named that, right? So, to us they were resplendent chameleons.
As soon as my brother & I would return home from the Fair, we'd be running all over the house holding our prizes up to different colors, with great, ghoulish glee as they performed their color change. Sooner or later, we'd become bored with them and go in to dinner, forgetting all about them. Days after, we'd find them in a physical state something short of fossilized, shrunken and dead. I do remember mourning the death of one or two, at least. Of course, we had funerals for them, but what little devils and heathens we were!
Oh, the misery it causes me now! Why? I just found out that those changing colors reflected their feelings of fear, anger and sheer confusion. They can't hurt you. I just read an article explaining this magical thing that chameleons do. I feel like such a serial killer because it also makes me realize that we undoubtedly must have tortured horney (horned) toads when we were children too, which are now almost an endangered species. They aren't nearly as beguiling as chameleons but we didn't have to wait around for the carnival or the circus to come to town to get them. If you just went out to your backyard where the dirt patch was and sat still for a while, they would come within catching distance. Yep, that's how we passed the long summers in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico as children.
Now, I'm worried about my own Karmic future. I hope they won't one day be sitting in judgement of my soul. If so, I'm in trouble.... deep. Don't even get me started on the crawdads (crawfish), goldfish and teensy turtles with painted shells. We unknowingly murdered them all....