Nancy Robards Thompson
Nancy Robards Thompson


family, Nancy Robards Thompson, phobias


photo (67)


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 Samseparately. 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 herb gardensimply 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.



30 thoughts on “Freaky Frog Day

  1. Laurie G says:

    claustrophobia- I can’t stand tight dark places. I dislike elevators, tunnels ,caves, walk in coolers or freezers. I don’t like blankets thrown over my head.

    arachnophobia- I also don’t like snakes and spiders

    and cats ailurophobia.

    1. Aww, Laurie, I’m sorry you’re afraid of cats. I’ve grown up with them. I have a 15-year-old pound kitty who is the sweetest thing. But hey, I understand that we don’t choose these phobias. No judgment here.

    1. You and me both, eap! Yuck!

  2. Liz says:

    So dislike spiders. My sister was bitten by a poisonous one and, much to her chagrin now, delighted in scaring me.

    1. Oh, I’m sorry about that, Liz. My poor daughter had a traumatic experience with a spider. She was holding our cat’s bowl while my husband poured food into it from the bag and a huge spider tumbled out with the food. She dropped the bowl; it shattered; and she’s been excruciatingly afraid of spiders ever since. Surprisingly, I am not afraid of spiders. She and I have an agreement. She is the reptile/amphibian extractor, and I handle the occasional spider that gets in the house.

  3. diane says:

    Snakes are my worst fear.

  4. pearl says:

    I cannot bear heights. Extreme and scary.

    1. Heights can be very scary, Pearl.

  5. Karen says:

    Apparently you and I share a common one! I am terrified of snakes or lizards too! I always knew I didnt like them but I didnt realize how terrified I am of them until one day my husband brought me a baby green snake to show me how “cute” it was…omg!! I went into a complete panic! Needless to say, he no longer does things like that! 😉

    1. Oh my gosh, Karen! I squirmed reading your post. Your hubby sounds like a great guy respecting your preference not to make friends with the creatures. I have a huge fear of someone thinking they can “help” me conquer my phobia by forcing one of the varmints on me. No! No! NO! I would probably hurt us both. 😉

  6. Shana Shana says:

    Nancy, that’s pretty funny. I have a friend deathly afraid of frogs. She wouldn’t walk by a bayou near our house because she heard someone once saw a frog on the path.

    I don’t lick crickets. They are scary looking. I’m also not a big fan of small spaces like caves or heights.

    1. Shana, I feel your friend’s pain. I would go out of my way to avoid the frogs, too.

  7. ellie says:

    Claustrophobia is definitely a large facet in my life.

    1. I’m sorry, Ellie. Do you have a hard time being in a larger space filled with a lot of people or is it just small spaces?

  8. Anne says:

    Snakes are something I have been deeply afraid of since I was young.

    1. Did you have a traumatic experience, Anne? Or is it just one of those inexplicable things?

  9. catslady says:

    I’m sorry but I am laughing really hard. I do understand if you say spiders, I’m right there with you lol. Or anything with more than 6 legs. Nothing else bothers me. But my oldest daughter can’t stand much of anything. She had a wasp and a bumblebee in her house last week and you would have thought she had been invaded. She called for help. Then the wasp that had got away came back – more hysteria. Her sister isn’t afraid of anything, even spiders. In fact she catches them in cups and frees them lol.

    1. Catslady, I’m going to call you and your daughter the next time I need a creature extracted. I don’t want them hurt or executed; I just want them far away from me. I’ll come over and take care of your spiders. They don’t bother me… as long as they’re not on me. Isn’t that silly? Because a spider is more likely to bite than a harmless…disgusting frog or lizard. Go figure.

  10. CateS says:

    Snakes.. we bought a house rather near a creek. While not immediate adjacent, it was within slithering distance. While out in the back yard clearing out some leftover construction rock and other debris, my husband hollared, ‘Coming at ya’… He meant tossing a rock toward the wheelbarrow… I thought he meant a snake was headed my way… I was in the garage before he could tell me the difference..

    1. Cate, I would’ve been in the garage right there with you!

  11. bn100 says:

    dirty bathrooms

    1. Oh my gosh, yes, BN100! I have been known to walk right out of some that were too funky.

  12. EllenToo says:

    I am another person who can not tolerate tight enclosed places because of clostophobia (or however you spell it). This is a result of being locked (accidently) in a closet as a child.

    1. Oh, Ellen! How frightening that must’ve been. I’m sorry.

  13. Laurie G says:

    I thought of another fear -sharks. I’m not sure what that’s called. I will not go swimming in the ocean.

  14. Jo's Daughter says:

    Uhm… yes, I am familiar with phobias. It’s a long story:

    A guy once thought it was funny to make me go inside a chicken coop. I was young and really loved baby animals, he told me I could go in and see the baby chicks up close & I trusted him. Then he quickly locked the thing up and ran away.

    At first I had not realized what had happened, as I was enchanted by all the fluffy little chicks I was seeing. They where cute!! Then I noticed he was gone & that the coop was locked. I screamed for help but nobody else knew I was in there…

    It took me a LONG time before I was able to break the coops door and get out. I only had a few small scratches on my arms, yet the scars on my young soul where a different story. I avoided animals for a while after the incident…

    I should just have avoided the animal that locked me in there! As the chickens brought me joy before. Anyway, I’m over the chickencoop now but I still don’t like things you have to squeeze into or crawl into. Like elevators or attics. It’s not so much the actual space but the fear I might not get out, or be stuck that is still with me after so many years.

    I don’t think this guy ever realized what he did to me. He claimed (later) it was a simple joke, how stupid of me not to see that… I never did find it amusing.

    So, that’s it really. My one and luckily only phobia. Or you should count me avoiding public restrooms. But I think that’s probably more for hygiene’s sake, rather then them being small.

  15. Hummingbirds. Oh, Nancy, I’m so sorry about the frog…but so glad for the laugh!

  16. Cindy Kirk Cindy Kirk says:


    What a great post…and so funny. Of course, that’s because it didn’t happen to me. ~hugs~ that it happened to you.

    I have an aversion to spiders, especially BIG one. An extra bonus hatred if they JUMP. I visualize one dropping or jumping into my hair and my stomach lurches. But I can tell you, if I do see one, I don’t run (unless they’re outside) because if they’re in the house I MUST get them…because I can’t knowingly entertain such an unwanted guest. lol

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