“He won’t hurt you.” I hear these words each time someone discovers my intense fear of frogs. The unease is not limited to frogs; it includes toads, salamanders, and newts. Basically, I don’t like amphibians, nor am I completely comfortable with creatures of the class Reptilia.
On several occasions, I’ve attempted to explain that my phobia is not based on an expectation of harmful effects. My reasoning instinct tells me that a frog is not going to bite or scratch me. His body does not secrete poisonous venom nor possess the ability to squeeze the breath out of me. I am simply afraid that the horrid critter will “gross me out”. This confession usually results in boisterous laughter from my sympathizers.
Nevertheless, I have trained my husband and children to politely catch the little croakers whenever they find a way into our home and to place them outside the door discreetly. I ignore my family’s suppressed snickers during the process. One summer day while we were relaxing on the back porch, I arose to take a quick trip to the bathroom. After I had locked the door and partially disrobed, I turned to take a seat and noticed a large, pale lump under the toilet rim. It resembled a clump of wet paper towels like the ones with which I had cleaned the bathroom earlier. As I took a closer look, my body froze to a halt. From the bowl, a ghastly pair of eyes glared back at me with dominion.
My short visit to the restroom became a fleeting retreat as I stumbled for the door and raced down the hall with my shorts hanging from my knees. My piercing shrieks alerted the others to come rushing to my rescue. Collectively, they burst into hilarity when they discovered the giant frog inside the toilet. As the laughter subsided and Jim attempted to remove our hideous visitor from his spot under the rim, the frog leaped from the toilet, hit the wall, and adhered to the wallpaper with the suction cups on his feet. Jim pulled and tugged with great vigor, but the strong-willed amphibian held his ground.
I don’t know what happened next. I ran to the back porch and hid for quite some time, fearing that they would bring the hideous thing near me. Once the commotion inside the house had eased off, I ventured back into our living room to see if the frog was gone. I didn’t need details. I asked a simple “yes” or “no” question: was my nemesis gone? Jim patiently explained that our unwanted house guest had been an “African…something” and had left our residence. My hero had delivered me from being “grossed out”.
A few days later, a photograph appeared on our refrigerator door. The same horrid eyes were peering at me once again, this time with long, dangly legs and a triumphant facial expression. From the other side of the kitchen, another grinning face caught my eye. Jim had chosen the most conspicuous corner of the refrigerator to hang a picture of my “friend” so he could tell the story over and over again. And he does.