This is Clive. Clive the Grill Frog.
Because amongst many other talents, my sister is amazing at coming up with names for animals. When we got hermit crabs (and we were far too old to be getting hermit crabs), she named hers Lentil and Peapod. One time we were at a Christmas tree farm and there were two little goats wearing holiday sweaters (I am not making this up). And we had the following conversation:
Sarah: I like the little black one. I would name her Genevieve.
Emily: I think…. Buttons.
Maybe you had to be there. But it still makes me laugh.
But I digress. This story is about Clive the Grill Frog. Or frogs in general, really.
Clive has now appeared at two of our Sunday dinners with Emily and Mike. I also discovered him one night, climbing on my bedroom window. I was equally thrilled to see him and worried that he would either fall or find a way to get into the apartment (and promptly be greeted by our murderer in residence, Matilda).
As I settled into bed and watched Clive and his amazing sticky little toes climb across my window, all of a sudden I had this uneasy, creeped-out feeling. And I realized it was because as Clive was climbing, his long back legs were extended behind him. Some people freak out seeing snakes slither along or having bees swarm around them. For me, it’s frogs; specifically their back legs. (The only thing that upsets me more is those frilled lizards who run on their hind legs.) When frogs are chilling, with their limbs neatly tucked under them, they’re just cute round things with big eyes and smiley faces. But when those back legs are stretched out they turn into these long, slimy, muscle-y things that can propel themselves into the air… or into your face.
In case you don’t know what I’m talking about…
And yes, finding and watching this video did cause me to experience a substantial amount of anxiety.
So why is it that this causes me so much distress?
I think it goes back to an August evening about five or six years ago. Emily and I were coming home from our parents’ house; we were either living together or living close to each other. We took the back roads- dark, twisty roads that run alongside a river. It had recently stopped raining, and the roads were still damp and covered with leaves that had been blown off in the storm. Then, in the headlights, one of the leaves jumped up right before we drove over it.
“Oh no! I think that might have been a frog.”
“There was nothing I could do!”
You know how when you’re cooking popcorn, there’s the first kernel that pops… then there are a few seconds before the next one? Then the lag between the second and third kernels is a little shorter, and before you know it, there are tons of kernels popping simultaneously? Well, that’s what this was like, except instead of corn kernels popping in a pot, there were frogs and toads hopping in front of my car.
They were everywhere. Frogs, toads, leaves… they were hard to tell apart and impossible to avoid. Emily and I were in tears- both laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation and feeling terrible about the frog massacre we were unwillingly pulled into. In between the laughing there were lots of cries of “No, no! Make it stop!”
And then the biggest frog I have ever seen in person showed up in the headlights, mid-air, with his creepy long legs stretched out behind him. I swear he was over a foot-long. I’m also pretty sure that Emily and I grabbed each other and screamed. That dude was big enough that we were able to avoid him (or at least that’s how I’ve chosen to remember it).
By the time we pulled out onto the main road, I had the same adrenaline rush as when Em and I were kids, coming out of the haunted house on the Ocean City boardwalk. Yes, it was that intense.
So yeah… since then, I’ve been a little uneasy around frogs. And I’ve been far more scrutinizing of wet leaves on the road.