Tales from a Misinformed Dictionary – Vizard

Vizard (rhymes with “wizard”): 1) a rumored species of South Pacific island lizard featuring oversized eyes with an unusual far-seeing ability. 2) [Slang – archaic] an unusual cast of the eye, especially in those who purport to do magic or are deeply religious.

In 1526, the infamous Dutch explorer, Willem de Vandergeertdervandervander, accidentally landed on a previously undiscovered South Pacific island (he was searching for Hoboken, New Jersey). While planting the Dutch flag, and after watering it, he felt a chill tickle up and down his spine like a friendly ship rat nuzzling for food. Someone – or some thing – was watching him. He looked right and then left and glimpsed nothing but palm trees, lapping blue waves and broken coconut shells. It was only when he looked right in front of him at the peak of an immense heap of seashell midden, that he observed a large sparkling green lizard with remarkably bulbous eyes. “Rotmensen, come quickly,” he shouted to his ship scientist, Rotmensen Naaktgeboren (translated loosely his name means “rotten people born naked” but don’t ever mention it to him).

Naaktgeboren rushed over, scattering white sand every which way. He eyed the lizard and the lizard eyed him. “Ach!” he said (his favorite word). “Ach! Ist neu lizzarde de groot.”

“I don’t understand you,” said Willem. “Remember to speak normally please.”

Of course Naaktgeboren was used to this. One of Willem’s quirks was that although born in the Netherlands to Nederlandish parents and having grown up in the Netherlands, immersed in Dutch culture and language, he spoke only in English. “It is undoubtedly a unique species of lacertilian sauria, and most astonishing indeed,” Naaktgeboren said.

“Name it.”

“I will call it a vizard, both because of the monstrous size of its eyes and because it seems able to see a great distance. Do gaze at the reflection in its eyes, my friend.”

Willem stared in amazement at what appeared to be his elderly parents sitting at their kitchen table slurping Flemish stew. He immediately decided to obtain as many vizards as possible, both as additions to the ship’s mascot menagerie and because of the obvious potential for untold riches. Think how the Dutch royalty and aristocrats would clamor for such unusual creatures!

However, catching the vizard proved next to impossible, as it was fleet of foot and no matter how fast a Dutch sailor armed with a net tried, the vizard was far faster, and with reptilian zeal, seemed to delight in the chase.

Two years later, after several shipwrecks in which he lost all of his crew except hard-as-lice Naaktgeboren, Willem returned home laden down with an unpleasant-smelling spice no one wanted and vivid tales no one believed. The word vizard, however, gained brief currency as slang describing a person noted for a ‘guru-like stare.’ Deeply humiliated, Willem lived out the rest of his life in disguise as a gondolier, although he refused to live in Italy and never learned Italian, continuing to speak only in English.

Naaktgeboren, who managed to sneak in several heavy gold bars on their return trip by hiding them in his stockings (although it made walking difficult), holed up in his mist-filled castle, conducting unmentionable scientific experiments (because he couldn’t see anything) and wrote puffed-up treatises on his past discoveries, including one on the mysterious lizard he’d once dubbed a vizard.

Centuries later, brave explorers still attempted to find this legendary lost, probably extinct, species, searching from nameless island to unmapped atoll on and on and on around the world. There were numerous reports of single sightings, as well as rumored colonies of electric-green lizards which upon further investigation proved to be nothing more than the obscure but not unknown “dizzard,” a much more excitable yet easy to catch species of lizard. In 2012, rather blurry photographs purporting to show a vizard running went viral on the internet. However, analysis by photo-detectives proved that the tantalizing photographs actually depicted an old man from Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, vigorously brushing his teeth. The search continues…..

The actual meaning of vizard: 1) a mask or visor for disguise or protection. 2) disguise, guise

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