Licking toads to get high

I recently received an email with little known facts about life and the world we live in.

Information such as at any given hour there are more than 61,000 people in airplanes over the United States is interesting.

Well, it is to me anyway, which gives you some idea of just how pathetic my life is and just how easily amused I a can be.

I would also find life much easier if there were not so many shiny things lying about to distract my already distracted brain.

Another amusing, yet absolutely useless piece of information is the first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

Oh, how times have changed. Now, it would be acceptable to show Fred and Barney in bed together.

Anyway, one of the items in the email of useless (but interesting) information sent me on a short-lived quest to verify the validity of the claim.

The statement was simple: you cannot lick your elbow.

My first thought was, “Why would you want to?”

My second thought was, “I wonder if that is true.”

So I casually found a quiet space where, that’s right, you guessed it, I tried to prove them wrong.

Feel free to give it a try yourself. Go ahead, you know you want to.

You have likely just learned the same thing I did, which is the same thing the original author learned and that is you can’t lick your elbow.

Perhaps some people can, but they are as rare as an honest politician.

I wonder who the first person to try this feat was, and more importantly why did they try it.

I guess some people just have waaaay too much time on their hands. It is just another example of people doing strange things that most of us probably would never even think of trying.

The elbow incident got me thinking about other strange activities and how they came to be. There have been stories over the years about people licking toads and frogs to get high.

First of all, that is truly disgusting. Second, who knew licking an amphibian would give you a buzz?

Who was the first person to lay tongue to toad and think, “Wow, that’s groovy man.”

Were they sitting around a campfire moaning about not having any money for beer when a frog hopped across the lawn and someone said, “I know, let’s lick that frog for fun?”

The only thing stranger than the guy who came up with the idea, is the person he got to join him in getting fresh with a frog. I refer to the inventor of the getting-personal-with-a-frog-as-a-form-of-entertainment game as a male, because, honestly, I do not know any females dumb enough to try licking a frog for fun.

Or perhaps it started at Woodstock where someone decided to take the ‘experimental stage’ of their life to the next level and include woodland swamp creatures to help with the expansion of their mind.

“Hey, what’s wrong with Mikey? He’s freaking out.”

“He got hold of some bad frog, man.”

“Bummer man, I wonder how many flies he’s gonna eat before he comes down.”

In my years on this Earth, I have never considered a frog a party accessory, but others have and if it weren’t for those willing to push the limits of idiotic behaviour, there would be much less to talk about in this world.

Thank goodness it never caught on, or police would be raiding grow ops one week, and frog farms the next.

“Pssst, hey buddy. You lookin’ to score some amphibian? I got frog. I got toad.”

And as everyone knows, frogs are the gateway amphibian.

One minute, it’s a simple pond frog, then it’s a big ol’ bullfrog and the next thing you know, you’re all the way up to snogging an iguana.

Pretty soon you are sleeping in the bushes next to the zoo just waiting for the chance to sneak in under the fence and make off with a creature of the Kermit variety.

Instead of asking for spare change, you are asking for directions to the nearest swamp.

As if actually licking a frog was not enough of a reason not to try it in the first place, the thing that creates the ‘high’ is actually a mild poison secreted from the critter to fend off attackers.

How smart do you have to be to ingest poison for a cheap high?

I guess if you are willing to lick a frog in the first place, the answer presents itself.

That's a lot of bull

It is a classic tale of man against beast.

For the record, I am the man in this story.

It all started innocently enough several years back when my wife wanted to spend a few days at a ranch visiting her dad, step-mom and other relatives.

I know, not the most thrilling vacation ever, but what can a guy do?

We loaded up the family, including my niece, who was staying with us, and headed to the backwoods to spend a few "relaxing" days with the in-laws.

The first thing we had to do was find the ranch, which was several kilometres down a narrow, winding, dirt road.

You know you are in redneck country when it takes you 30 minutes on a dirt road to get to your destination.

The scary part was we were not 100 per cent certain we were on the right road and turning around a mini-van hauling a tent trailer on a single-lane dirt road would have been a challenge.

Eventually we arrived at the ranch. The first thing we saw was a cousin working on fence without his shirt on.

He was a typical cowboy. He had on a cowboy hat (of course), tight jeans (um, er, not that I noticed) and was absolutely ripped (um, er, not that I noticed.)

I'm not gay or anything, but damn.

He had been doing physical labour for years and it showed. I looked down at my somewhat ample middle section and knew that there was no way I was taking my shirt off around this guy.

If I were on fire, I would rather roll in the dirt and risk third-degree burns than doff my shirt next to Billy McStud.

But he is not the beast I am was making reference too earlier in my rambling.

No, this was a beast of the massive variety: a big, mean, ugly, nasty looking bull.

Now, I have nothing against bulls – as long as they are behind an enclosure or on my barbecue.

The problem was, this monster was neither.

It was day three at the ranch and I had managed to injure my leg on day two and could barely hobble my way across the driveway.

Of course, that is when fate decided to have a little fun with the bald, flabby, injured guy.

I was limping past a barn with my niece when we noticed that big, mean bull was staring at us from the wrong side of the fence.

Somehow, the beast had gotten loose and was stomping around looking for trouble.

What he found was me and a 10-year-old girl.

Close enough. 

He looked at us and snorted.

I don't know a lot about bulls, but I knew this was a bad thing. I told my niece that if the bull came at us, we would simply duck under a fence that was about five metres away.

As the word “away” left my lips, I looked up to see a trail of dust as my niece set a land-speed record running to the farm house.

That left just me and the bull, who noticed my niece sprinting across the yard and decided to amble over and see what I was all about.

I began to move toward the nearest enclosure when Billy McStud rode to my rescue.

He was on a horse and put himself and his steed between me and the beast.

He corralled the bull back in its pen before riding off into the sunset.

Well, actually he just rode over to the barn, but the sun was in that general direction, so close enough.

The owner of the ranch heard about the bull incident and promised to send us a couple of steaks from the offending bull in the fall.

They were delicious.

Mesmerized by the shiny

Listening to some chatter about high-school exams sent me for a ride down memory lane and my own battles with high-school tests.

As the moment of cranial challenging drew near, I would hunker down and spend days studying. Well, maybe not days; perhaps it was more like hours.

Well, maybe not hours; perhaps an hour. OK, I would read through my notes while having breakfast the morning of the test.

Not the best study techniques, but they worked.

OK, they didn’t work, but I still managed to graduate. And my grades were amazing — as in it is amazing I passed.

I was not exactly the most dedicated student. I had what you might call focus issues. Pretty much every report card I ever had in my entire life read, “…would do much better if he did not day dream so much.”

You see, back then it was called day dreaming, where a student had a hard time focusing on the task at hand. I would get distracted by birds in a tree, bugs crawling across the floor, shiny things – whatever happened to be going on other than school work always seemed to grab my much-divided attention.

It is no longer called day dreaming. Today it is has a label like ADD (attention deficit disorder), ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or IDRCD (I don’t really care disorder).

I am pretty sure I suffered from the first disorder on the list, and as the school years progressed, I morphed into the last.

Looking back, I am sure with the right medication, counselling and large enough bribe I could have achieved much better grades.

That’s not to say I am dumb, I just suffered from a lack of enthusiasm for school. I am, however, sure a few people who read my column on a regular basis will opt for the dumb defence.

They are likely sitting back thinking, “That explains a lot.”

But if I were interested in something, I knew pretty much all there was to know about it.

I can remember going to motorcycle shops and telling the salesman things about the bikes they were selling that they didn’t even know, but ask me to do some algebra and I would stare at you like you were speaking Swahili.

A few days after every school exam, the results were posted on a hallway wall outside the classroom. That was yet another brilliant and diabolical scheme by the teachers to highlight the under achievers – and it worked very well.

I remember lining up to check the results when a girl in front of me burst into tears and ran down the hall. I looked up her grade to learn she was devastated because she got a mere B-plus. It was the first time in 11 years of education she had received anything lower than an A.

Meanwhile, I was doing back flips down the hallway because I pulled off a mighty C in the same class. I guess it's a matter of perspective.

By the time I made it to college, I realized diligent study was needed, and I actually cracked the books (and the occasional beer) and knuckled down to do some serious studying.

I don’t think anyone was more surprised than I was with the results. In two years of post-secondary education, my lowest grade was a B.

Perhaps if I had applied myself more in high school I would have…hey, look at that dog.


The joy of camping

I have to admit, I didn't really understand the whole camping thing.

When I wed my beautiful bride, she wanted to leave our home and sleep on the ground under the trees wrapped in canvass.

I had been working hard for many years to prevent that sort of thing and now I was supposed to do it voluntarily.

Like I said, I didn't really get it, but because I was in love I readily agreed — and the cooler full of adult recreational beverages didn't hurt in convincing me either.

So off we went, leaving our lovely rented apartment behind so we could sleep on the ground like a wild critter.

The first thing I noticed about camping was how much work it was. You had to load everything you needed into a vehicle, drive to the campground, unpack everything, set up the tent, bedding, cooking utensils etc. only to reverse the whole process a few days later.

And don't even get me started on the insects, especially the eight-legged monsters that haunt my dreams when I am in my own bed, let alone sleeping in a sack of stuffed material on a thin layer of foam in the middle of bug central.

Camping actually goes back to biblical times. Moses did it for 40 years. It may not have been by choice, but he still spent four decades pitching a tent and looking for just the right fauna for personal use.

I get tired of camping after just a couple days.

And speaking of fauna for personal use: where the heck did they find fauna in the middle of a desert in the first place? And if there was no fauna, what did they use?

On second thought, maybe I don't want the answer.

Fortunately, provincial campgrounds have bathroom facilities of some sort and what a thrill it is to make a boom-boom in an outhouse.

The most distressing part of the outhouse was the aromatic essence of the structure. Outhouses have a special odiferous quality that just can’t be described without actually experiencing it.

But young love ruled the day, so camping became a regular part of our summers — wooden toilets and all.

The longer we were married, the more our camping evolved. We went from a small, three-person tent to a 10-person tent that was so large it had room for our queen-sized air mattress, baby playpen, luggage, a full basement and in-ground pool.

The tent of wonders eventually gave way to a tent trailer, and not just any tent trailer, the largest tent trailer ever built by the human race.

The thing was so big we dubbed it The Land Whale. With the wings out, it was 26 feet long. In the right light, it could be seen from space.

What an improvement it was. I was no longer a ground-dwelling barbarian, but had an actual bed to sleep in. Camping was still a lot of work, especially with three little ones, but the Land Whale made it a lot more bearable.

My favourite part of camping was sitting around the fire with those adult bevvies I was talking about while the kids slept quietly in their beds.

But it still took many years for me to really enjoy camping.

The change started when I saw how excited my children were to leave our home and head for the hills.

When my son was 18, he said he can't wait to go camping with us and his own family (when he has one).

In that moment, the importance of family camping became clear. Suddenly, I loved camping. What an awesome way to spend a weekend with the family.

Now, if we could just do something about those bugs.  

More The Shoebox articles

About the Author

Darren Handschuh has been working as a writer and photographer in the media industry for the past 25 years. He is married, has three children, a dog and two cats (although he is not completely sure how that part happened).

He takes a humourous look at life, and has often said, “I might as well laugh at myself, everyone else does.” 

His writings have been compared to a collection of words from the English language assembled in a somewhat coherent manner. High praise indeed.

Life gives Darren plenty of material for his column, and no one is safe from his musings – especially himself. 

He regularly writes to his blog www.therudemonkey.blogspot.ca.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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