It was Eureka! time in Margaritaville!
Without answering any of the “Make $5,000 by next Tuesday” ads that clutter my e-mail box everyday; without sending $19.95 for a sure fire, money-making plan to the millionaire who wants to share his secret of riches with a few deserving people; without joining a ground-floor, multi-level sales biz, speculating in pork bellies or ostrich ranching, or sending five bucks to each of the four names at the bottom of the chain letter, I stumbled on to a veritable income-generating gold mine.
My wife and I just spent a couple of days vacationing in Key West. We did the usual rounds, took the Conch Train and listened to the well rehearsed 90-minute spiel about historic homes and tourist-tempting attractions, gawked at Mel Fisher’s golden hoard from the Atocha, turned down an invitation to join a “Beef on a Reef” snorkeling expedition, and tried to commune with the spirits of Ernest Hemingway or Tennessee Williams by haunting La Concha Hotel cum Holiday Inn.
On our second day we just walked around Old Town seeing the sights and rambled back to the Southernmost Point to take the required snapshot standing next to the red and black buoy with 90 miles of ocean separating us from Cuba in the background.
Near the buoy a pleasant looking young man was standing next to a trash can on which were perched two very colorful iguanas. As I focused to snap a picture, the sandy haired owner said, “You want a better shot than two iguanas on a trash can,” taking my camera with one hand and simultaneously placing one of the lizards on my shoulder with the other. Seeing my wife laugh, he placed the other on her shoulder, instructed us to stand in the sun and snapped a photo. We chatted for a few moments while petting the iguanas. As we handed them back he asked, “Would you like to make a donation to my Iguana Care and Feeding Fund?” No pressure, mind you, and a winning smile; his, of course, since iguanas don’t smile.
The stream of visitors to the Southernmost Point is so constant one almost has to stand in line to take a photo. In the next five minutes, I watched the iguanas photographed three more times and no one contributed less than a couple of dollars to the Care and Feeding Fund.
It was then I realized whom the fund was feeding! Figure one photo every two minutes times eight hours a day, seven days a week times $2 a shot and the Care and Feeding Fund could be raking in $2,000 a week in a town where most young people were hustling T-shirts at minimum wage.
Just as suddenly it dawned on me: lizards could be a turning point in my life. With a little mature influence this enterprise could explode. Forget penny-ante projects such as iguana rental agencies — think big! The business could be franchised!
Iguana International could set up shop at tourist locations worldwide. Iguanas at the Washington Monument and the White House, at the Eiffel Tower and Tienamin Square, on Waikiki Beach and the Las Vegas Strip; iguanas at Graceland and Dolly World, lizards on the Via Doloroso and replacing pigeons in Saint Peter’s Square. Get the Pope to bless the iguanas and a photo would be picked up by the wire services and published in newspapers worldwide.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Consider the potential license agreements, everything from teeny weenie beanie babies at McDonalds to a Japanese monster movie, Iguanadon Eats Tokyo. Iguana mania would force Budweiser to bring back the lizards that did in those darn frogs.
There’s already a globe-circling interest in iguanas. Punch the Internet search button on Google, type in “iguana” and you’ll come up with 308,000 web pages devoted, in some way, to these profitable creatures.
It’s amazing where an open mind can lead. And if Iguana International doesn’t pan out, I can fall back on the other great idea I had while scanning the merchandise on Duval Street: Lollipops imprinted with “Genuine Key West Sucker.”