“It’ll Be Hilarious!”

Company Culture, Uncategorized Posted Nov 2, 2015 by chenpr

“It’ll be hilarious.”

Those words are often all I need to hear to convince me to do something stupid. And so it was while fishing in Maine recently with a friend.

“We should get a video of you with a frog in your mouth,” he said. “It’ll be hilarious.”frogs-pickerel1

And it was, in the abstract… while floating in a canoe under a hot summer sun on a day when the fish weren’t as cooperative as we would have liked. Between unproductive casts and the singing of stream-of-consciousness songs, the two of us mimed the event and laughed at the images conjured by our imaginations. Then later, while landing the canoe on a weedy, muddy bank, a number of small frogs leapt and scattered at my feet as I pulled the our craft up the shore. The frogs had been patiently waiting for bugs when my size thirteens disturbed them, and as they tried to find cover in the muck and weeds and water the words came back to me.

“It’ll be hilarious.”

Off I went in hot pursuit, scuffling my feet in the grasses along the waterline until a small leopard frog sprang up against the slope, away from the pond and onto a seam of rocks. It jumped; I pounced—all 6’4” and 230(ish) pounds of me. Not nearly as quick and nimble as the young boy who used to spend entire days chasing and catching frogs four decades or more earlier in his life, but no less effective.

I caught the spotted amphibian, made my way back to the landing and waited for my buddy to get the camera on his smartphone ready. At his say-so I put the frog in my mouth and, well… see for yourself.


Not sure if it was the thought of two grown men acting like little boys, or the way that little frog, somewhat bewildered, crawled up and looked around out of my gaping maw as if to assess the situation, then pushed its way through my pursed lips in an heroic bid for freedom. But it was kind of funny; or at least mildly amusing. Maybe not the stuff that launches a nobody like me into an orbit of internet fame, but my buddy and I got a laugh out of it. That was good enough for me.

And then, about a week after my vacation in the Maine woods was over, I developed a cough. A week after that I still had a cough. After three weeks I still had a cough and so I went to see the doctor, told him the story and that I suspected that little frog was somehow to blame for my malady. He smiled, rolled his eyes a little and said, “There you go,” before finishing the examination of his man-child patient and writing a prescription to clear up the (ahem) frog in my throat.

Friends, family and colleagues who heard the story were amused. My wife, who has put up with more than her share of my idiotic antics over a quarter-century, was exasperated. I was inspired to write this story despite the implications as to that declining state of my sanity.

At about this point in the composition I did an image search for a leopard frog to use as an illustration and realized that the frog used in my video was not a leopard, but a pickerel frog. And so I typed “pickerel frog” into Google and the always helpful search engine auto-filled my query with three words that got my attention: Pickerel Frog Toxic.


Yeah, turns out the frog I cast in the video’s starring role is North America’s only poisonous frog, and the toxin the pickerel frog excretes as a defense mechanism (deadly to some small animals) is an irritant to humans’ mucus membranes.

My symptoms now made perfect sense, but upon learning that I’d ingested a toxin, even if non-fatal, I figured I’d better let my doctor know. The nurse patiently listened. When I finished, there was a pause.

“You mean you put a real frog in your mouth?”

Yeah, that’s what I meant.

She laughed, and then apologized. She thought my story was an elaborate way for me to describe a non-amphibian frog-in-the-throat. No need for the apology; after all, I did it for laughs.

“We’ve had parents call because children put a frog in their mouth, but never an adult.”

There’s a first time for everything. No, alcohol was not involved.

“I’ll talk with the doctor. If we need you to come in, I’ll call you back right away.”

Later that day I got word that all I can do is ride it out. Let the office know if things get worse.

Things haven’t gotten worse. I’m not sure I’d admit to it if they had.

I read in the news today about a young woman who got drunk and decided to break into a zoo so that she could pet a tiger, which bit her hand. That story makes me feel a little better about my own decision. Not much better, but I’ll take it.