I never went to summer camp because we were (and still are) a cottage family. We didn’t need organized activities to have fun. We made our own.
Most of my cottage memories were forged with my neighbours. They’re the kind of neighbours that everyone wishes they had. Certain aspects of my life are sitcom-y , and this is no exception. We met our neighbours when I was nine and instantly felt like we’d known each other forever. We share a driveway opening. We have a little path from one property to another. We used to have a homemade basketball court between our two properties. We have a firepit that is exactly halfway between grass (them) and sand (us). We share tools. We share toys. We get groceries for each other. We accompany each other to the dump and the hardware store. We have coffee every afternoon. Even our dogs (the original golden retrievers and now their new retriever and our little black evil thing) are friends. But that’s really not the point of this post.
One of our favourite cottage past times was frog catching. It was never an activity that we planned to do; it was always one that started when someone happened across a frog. And then another. And another. Before we knew it, the neighbour girls and I had a huge bucket of frogs with which we taunted my squeamish older brothers. I’m not going to tell you exactly what we did with the frogs so as not to upset some of my more uh, sensitive readers, but I can assure you that the frogs loved flying through the air us.
For my birthday one summer, my neighbours gave me a pair of frog earrings wrapped in a new frog catcher net. It was silly and I loved it. It was our little summer inside joke. The next summer I got something else froggy. Somewhere in there my family gave me a few frog items. The frog theme started to catch on*. My friends started getting me frog stuff. My family bought more. I started buying more. Pretty soon everything I owned was green or had a frog on it.
The debacle reached its breaking point on my 16th birthday. A boy who liked me bought me a frog statue. A foot-tall-flecked-with-gold-and-pretending-to-be-a-ballerina STATUE. It was in a position that looked like it required chiropractic assistance. The thing was hideous. It lasted two days on display until it retired to my closet. Needless to say, he was off my list of potential suitors. Another gentleman in high school went the frog route as well. I wasn’t impressed. Frogs do not pass the gift test**.
I did not want frog things anymore. Nor did I like frog things all that much. Sure they were cute and silly at first, but now I couldn’t go into my room without feeling their beady little froggy eyes staring me down. It was unsettling. My room, once a safe haven dotted with a frog here and there had become something straight out of Exodus 7.
I call this the Frog Effect.
The FE is never intentional. It’s usually innocent. Harmless, really. It starts off slow, gradually building up speed until somewhere along the track it races out of control and completely derails at your 16th birthday party. You will know that the FE has taken hold of you when you’re in a situation that requires pleasantries, but all you can think about is whether or not you remembered to pick up Listerine at the grocery store today because you’ll need its taste bud burning power after throwing up in your mouth a little bit. It’s wretched, I know.
Consider this your warning. Don’t let the Frog Effect take hold of you and your loved ones.
Have you ever experienced the Frog Effect?
*oh how pun!
**If that hint was too subtle for you, here’s another: DON’T GIVE ME FROG CRAP.