I ended up spending the rest of the school year looking over my shoulder, jumping at every movement I caught out of the corner of my eye and peering around every corner before venturing forward.
Why you ask - because of a frog. No I did not have a deep-seated frog-aphobia, but rather a case of revenge-aphobia.
It started during an elementary school camping trip to an area lake. Nothing scary about that, right? Well, had me and a buddy not been full of boyish energy, a situation would not have arisen that resulted in me developing a justified case of paranoia.
The incident involved a pick-up truck, a hard-luck frog, an idea that seemed like a good one at the time and my friend.
Now, before I get into the gory details of the incident, I must provide some context into why I did what I did. My friend, Jeff, and I used to play a game where we were always trying to maim each other in some way - to cause the other discomfort, embarrassment or good, old-fashioned pain as a way of interacting throughout the school day.
It’s no wonder I have a nervous twitch.
‘The Incident’ was merely an extension of our little game, in which it was always better to give than receive.
The day began like normal – everyone stumbled out of their tents, had breakfast, did a little class study thing before heading to the beach for an afternoon of higher education in the area of goofing around.
It took about 10 minutes to walk from our campsite to the beach, and it was along this winding road ‘The Incident’ took place.
It began with a rather large frog hopping across the blacktop, only to be run over by a passing Ford.
“Ewww, that is disgusting,” was the general consensus because Kermit’s hapless cousin was only half run over. The truck ran over the back half of the frog, squeezing some innards out of the front of the frog. Enough said about that.
The frog was as dead as it was ever going to be and everyone gave it a wide birth. Well, almost everyone. I saw it as an excellent opportunity to continue the game with my good buddy.
In a moment of inspiration, I grabbed the dead critter by one of its legs and threw it Frisbee style at Jeff. I never actually expected to hit him, let alone smack him square in the face, but the projectile of yuck sailed straight and true and hit him right in the mush with a kind of splatting sound.
The world around me stopped. Everyone stared at Jeff as the frog slid off his face and landed on the ground. Then they looked at me, then the looked back at Jeff, then they looked at me again.
I was trying very hard not to laugh because while I was aiming for his face, I never thought in a million years I would actually hit the target. In fact, I never expected to hit him at all.
But it was too late now, the die had been cast, or in this case the squished frog had been thrown.
Jeff looked down at the frog, then looked up at me and I knew it was time to vacate the area.
And vacate I did, with Jeff hot on my heals. I was in really good shape back then so I knew I had the wheels to keep running until Jeff calmed down and gave up the chase.
Problem was, Jeff was also in good shape and had little desire to let me go and we ran for miles around that campground. I managed to elude Jeff on the initial chase, but we had two more days of camping and then a couple months of school to survive. And I knew Jeff would be after me the entire time until revenge was achieved.
Jeff did get his revenge and it involved a very rotten salmon at the side of a spawning creek, a well-timed hook of my left foot, me falling to the ground and my left arm embedding in the fish with a disgusting splat.
Satisfied with his revenge, I could now live the rest of the school year in peace. Well, sort of, because now I had to seek revenge for his revenge, then he would seek revenge, then I would seek revenge, then…