• 36°

Toads, frogs and a ‘four-letter word’

The other day at our science museum, a custodian excitedly told me that there have been baby frogs in the building’s lower floor.
I recently took the elevator downstairs, discovering a tiny toad sitting in front of the open elevator door. It stared, unmoving, so it was in that particular spot just by chance. If purposefully waiting for the elevator’s arrival, I’m sure when the elevator door opened, the toad would have hopped right in.
I refer to it as “toad” (terrestrial) instead of “frog” (aquatic), because I knew it to be so by virtue of my being a “gray-haired little boy.”
In 1972 (when I began graying), I saw the Ray Milland movie “Frogs.” I remember Milland sitting in a wheelchair beside an open window through which a host of frogs was leaping in to “keep him company.”
Milland screamed in terror, which made no sense! After all, what can even a million frogs do to someone, gum them to death or drown them in frog pee? (I’m sure frog urine is acidic, but nothing like the caustic saliva of the creature in the “Alien” movies.)
Maybe it was an “interconnected” fear of warts, like the school days’ “A=B=C” math problems.
Or perhaps, when Ray Milland saw those frogs hopping in, it was a Friday evening, and he said to himself: “Well, here’s another weekend, lost!”
Getting back to our museum, I scooped up the little interloper (“interhopper”) and put it in our enclosed butterfly garden. The toad can’t get out, but neither can its predators (bird, snake) enter.
The custodian had found four or five of these little “babies,” also letting them go in the butterfly garden (now approaching the status of “butterfly-toad garden”).
All of this “cold-bloodedness” brings back something from my childhood along the Old Concord Road.
One early morning, about age 5 (1956), I was exploring my back yard and forest threshold. It was always a moist, shadowy place (“shadow-unfriendly” now, due to logging), with all kinds of fungi, especially “toadstools.”
Surprisingly, I never saw a single toad take a break on that naturally-provided “furniture,” so-named by man in its honor.
From there, a toad could have surveyed his domain and contemplated his lot in this life; but probably not, since toads, like some people, are not very introspective.
Even in that “toad heaven,” I couldn’t believe how many I was finding. In the movie “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” the escapees find a “whole gopher village” which they are roasting, shish kabob-style on sticks. Perhaps I had found a “whole toad village” during those early, sunlit, 1950s, backyard hours.
Collecting them, my pants and shirt pockets soon became “toad-filled,” equaling upwards of a dozen.
My father was asleep in his bed, having not long returned from third-shift work at the Spencer yard. Being a light sleeper, he wasn’t sound asleep.
I carefully opened the door, entered, emptied my pockets and left, quietly closing the door.
I considered this a good trick to play on my father. He had given me whippings for bad behavior, but never for something humor-related, since he had a well-developed sense of humor himself.
My father’s light sleep contributed to the trick’s playing, with him being easily awakened by “thumping” noises on the floor. If some of the toads’ trajectories landed them in his bed, he may have rolled over onto a “cold clump.”
Just now, I realize that if I had only given some childhood thought to the trajectories of hopping toads in that time of Sputnik-paranoia-inspired science emphasis, and displayed a proclivity for their mathematical calculation, my life could have been different! I might have later had a career with NASA, or perhaps the Department of Defense, culminating with the publication of my “Principia Toadaeam (not to be confused with “Te Deum”) Trajectorae,” in the tradition of Newton, Einstein and Hawking (although of much narrower, but sometimes “lengthy” subject matter). I guess it’s too late for all of that now, though.
When my father realized what was happening, he immediately knew the source!
He sometimes used four-letter words, but always those of the “D” or “S” variety, never of the “F.”
That morning, in which his bedroom itself almost seemed to hop, my father hollered out the “four-letter word” most appropriate to the situation.
From his bed, he yelled: “Mack!”

Comments

Comments closed.

News

Man killed by deputy recalled as storyteller, jokester

News

Rowan’s Sen. Ford backs ‘Election Integrity Act’ to move up absentee ballot deadlines

Business

Salisbury earns top 40 ranking on national list of best small cities to start a business

Crime

Supreme Court makes it easier to give minors convicted of murder a life sentence

Local

Quotes of the week

Local

Salisbury Human Relations Council offering online Racial Wealth Gap Simulation

News

Bill seeking permanent daylight saving clears NC House

News

Friends describe Elizabeth City man killed by deputy

Business

With second hobbit house now complete, Cherry Treesort looks toward future expansion

College

Catawba Sports: 2021 Hall of Fame class announced

Crime

Supreme Court makes it easier to sentence minors convicted of murder to life in prison

Local

Overton dedicates tree to longtime volunteer Leon Zimmerman

Coronavirus

First dose COVID-19 vaccinations up to 24% in Rowan County

Crime

Blotter: April 22

Crime

Lawsuit: Salisbury Police, Rowan Sheriff’s Office tore woman’s shoulder during traffic stop

Business

‘Believe me, they’ll be fresh’: Patterson Farm welcomes strawberry crop

Local

City appoints more members to boards, commissions, with 9 seats left to be filled

News

Virtual play groups the new norm at Smart Start

Local

City meets in closed session to consult with attorney on two ongoing litigation cases

Education

Summit takes art out of the classroom, into the student’s home

Education

Education briefs: Gene Haas Foundation donates $12,500 to RCCC

Business

County’s restaurant grant program dishes out funding to eight local eateries

High School

High school football: Yow out as South head coach

Education

Shoutouts