After dinner the other night, the Norwegian and I were sitting on the back porch enjoying a rainstorm as it blew across the lake. The rain made the air smell heavenly. We had wine and it was so nice and romantic… Until, from out of nowhere, a frog landed on my head and got caught in my hair.
The scene involved a lot of flailing and screaming, “GET IT OFF ME! GET IT OFF ME!” The neighbors must’ve thought I was being murdered. Finally, the slimy thing managed to free himself from my “Venus fly trap hair” (as my good friend, Kathleen, so aptly dubbed it). I ran into the house, traumatized and feeling quite violated.
I don’t know if the frog jumped or fell from the porch ceiling. All I know is he was on me and that was not okay. I have a phobia of slimy creatures. The clinical term for it is herpetophobia, “a morbid fear of reptiles and similar vertebrates, such as amphibians.” The phobia causes mild to severe anxiety and panic attacks. Yes, indeed it does. That is absolutely correct. Personally, I think herpetophobia sounds like an STD. Accordingly, I avoid all things remotely reptilian and amphibious. ;)
Ironically, earlier on Freaky Frog Day, I’d been thinking about how I should make more time to enjoy our porch in this nice weather, before summer descends like a wet blanket. Our little spring-fed lake is gorgeous. It’s the crowning jewel of our back yard. That night, the rain made it magical. When the Norwegian ventured outside, I thought it was the perfect time to share a romantic moment. For two.
Of course, I hadn’t been out there five minutes before the dang frog landed on my head. Talk about a mood killer. It proves that I’m much better off appreciating nature from afar – say through the kitchen window or from the air-conditioned family room through the closed glass doors. Lizards, snakes, frogs? No thank you. Not cute. I don’t want to think about them. I don’t want to look at them. Most of all, I don’t want them to violate my personal space.
Phobias are strange, aren’t they? In my rational mind, when I’m
safe in my air-conditioned family room, I know the lizards in our back yard are not Komodo Dragons; the only snakes I’ve seen out there are black snakes, which are good for controlling the rodent population; and the frogs are not creatures from the Black Lagoon. But how can one be rational when we all know a snake is a snake is a snake. And other slimy things that fly at you in the dark and get tangled in your hair? As far as I’m concerned, they’re all deadly because I nearly kill myself trying to get away from them.
I can’t trace my aversion back to a traumatic childhood incident. Unless you count the time my high school art teacher captured a bunch of geckos, tied strings to their legs and thumbtacked the free end of the string to the table so that we could draw from “live models.” I was so freaked out I couldn’t breathe. Then there was the time when I was all grown up and working as a newspaper reporter and someone wanted to take a picture of me holding a baby alligator. It may have been a baby, only about ten or twelve inches long (and its mouth was muzzled), but all I could see was “GIANT LIZARD!” No how. No way. I wasn’t going anywhere near that thing. So, you can imagine the herpetophobia trauma-level of the frog-in-the-hair incident.
I know there are programs to help people overcome phobias…they usually involve confronting fears head-on. My treatment would probably involve some form of human to creature contact. That’s where I disembark. That’s my stop. Instead, I’ll continue to go out of my way to maintain my personal space so that the creatures and I can coexist separately. For the sake of full disclosure, I still venture into the backyard to take out my dog. I still clip herbs from my herb garden. I simply carry a long dowel so I can rustle the plants and warn the wildlife before I stick my hands and face into their territory. I don’t hit or poke or harm them in any way. No contact. This is the literal meaning of I wouldn’t touch you with a ten-foot pole. Actually, mine is a four-foot pole. So far, the arrangement seems to be working well for everyone. I have consoled myself by calling Freaky Frog Day a fluke. However, I haven’t chanced another nighttime porch date with the Norwegian. My waving a four-foot pole wouldn’t be very romantic. If you’re thinking something else, you have a dirty mind. But that’s okay because we’re all friends here.
How about you? Do you have any phobias? I know it can be uncomfortable talking about them. So, I’ll give away not one but two books of the winner’s choice to one person who posts.