Don’t Bogart That Toad, My Friend

Okay, now under other circumstances, I’d probably say that this letter from the Q/A section of the daily newspaper in Hays, Kansas (dated June 15, 2005) should just be left to speak for itself. It’ll quickly become apparent as to why. However, I’m not entirely convinced that I’ll have the wherewithal to just let this one lie. I dunno, let’s see how it goes.

So anyway, dig this:

Q. I hope you can help me with a problem I have with my godson. Last summer he visited me for two weeks and plans to return in July. When cleaning out the room he stays in, I found an unfinished correspondence to a chum of his in his hometown. In it he says he was going to our local pool to “scout out some camel toads.” (I believe that’s what it said, he had spilled iced tea all over the desk when writing it, and it damaged a lot of papers.) I’m concerned he is doing drugs.

I tried to look for camel toads in a drug book, and I didn’t find them, but I found references to some type of frog or toad that people in another country lick to hallucinate. I don’t want to approach him on this until I have more information.

He is a good boy in middle school whose parents do not even drink. Please let me know what camel toads are and how I might be able to tell if he is smoking, taking, or licking them.

Perhaps I should have talked to his parents, but I don’t want to jump the gun. Is this something the local authorities need to be alerted to in order to protect other patrons at the pool or surrounding area?

A concerned and uninformed reader

A. The iced tea did a number on the toads, so my younger, hipper coworkers tell me. What he undoubtedly wrote was “camel toes,” a crude euphemism for, well, too-tight pants worn by females.

The good news is that the expression has absolutely nothing to do with drugs. It has everything to do with why teenage boys go to the pool in the first place.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrr… nope! Just can’t do it. I tried, I sat here for a whole 5.3 seconds trying to just push the “Save” button and have done with it, but I mean… how much friggin’ willpower is a guy expected to have, anyway?

First off, I already checked Near as they can tell, this shit’s the real McCoy, though despite having verified its origins with Leslie Potter, the librarian in Hays who was doing the paper’s advice column at the time of the Great Camel Toad Scare of Aught-Five, they’re still not entirely convinced that it wasn’t a gag on somebody’s part… and I don’t think anyone with the sense to pour piss outta their boots could blame them for that.

Secondly, holy fucknik!!! Just look at the thing! I’m trying to imagine a possible way that this could be anything but a well-written prank on the ersatz Dear Abby down yonder in Hays, Kansas… and the frightening thing is, it’s not particularly difficult.

Believe me, I grew up in a small Midwestern town, and knew plenty of folks who were precisely this dim. Barely a week goes by that I don’t get a call from my mom, telling me of yet another lip-droolingly moronic (and yet, dead serious) statement made on the air by the fellow who runs the daily call-in show on my hometown’s little radio station. Actually, this yoyo is also the station owner… which practically demands the observation that, on “WKRP in Cincinnati” at least they never let the Big Guy go on the air and start yapping. Unfortunately, the hometown radio station in question doesn’t have a clue as to how mind-carvingly stupid this guy makes them sound, on an almost constant basis, and so you just get this steady stream of “Holy shit, find me a pencil so I can write this one down!” inanities.

For example, a caller was once asking about “wind shear”, (sudden, strong, often vertical changes in wind direction) and the host gave a brief, uncharacteristically accurate definition of the term, and then he added (and again, dead seriously… this guy’s sense of alleged “humor” honestly doesn’t extend much beyond occasionally inserting a water-headed chuckle into one of his monosyllabic rants about Hillary Clinton):

“Now for some reason, and I’m not quite sure why, wind shear seems to mainly occur around airports.”

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As if this wasn’t enough indication that there are at least pockets here and there of the terminally un-bright and/or fish-barrel credulous out there in the wilds of outer Dumbfuckistan, and since ‘tis nigh on the season for “’Tis The Season” and all that sugar-plummy stuff, let me lay this little head-shaker on you. I just read in the news today that Jerry “Pigfuckin’ Jeebus Geek” Falwell is heading up a group that’s threatening to boycott any businesses which use “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” in their ads, and to flat-out sue any school district or government office/agency that doesn’t engage in what the Falwellians consider to be an appropriate amount of religiously-based holiday observances.

The name of this little arm-twisting project of theirs? The “Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign”. Isn’t that just a nice, fuzzy, cockles-of-your-heart warming little Christly clarion call? All y’all better start decking the shit outta them thar halls, harkin’ them herald angels like it’s going out of style, and wassailing your heathen asses off, or the “Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign” is gonna come and cart you off in the dead of night, apparently.

I guess it’s just further evidence against the Old Man In The Sky trip that a snake like Falwell hasn’t yet wandered drunkenly into a fully-armed and operational abattoir and come out the other side as a case of BBQ pork rinds, and that there are clearly enough suckers in this country willing to give this hack their hard-earned money so that he can force a narrow interpretation of a specific religious bedtime story down everyone’s throats. To listen to this bunch of down-home flapheads, the simple act of wishing somebody “Happy Holidays” is in fact part of some sinister plot to turn the entire nation into a spunk-soaked brothel. (Though personally, I think that’d be something of an improvement over these perfume-soaked religious beer hall putsches that seem to be all the rage in Grover’s Corners, USA these days.)

So, bearing all this in mind (and also because, quite frankly, it’s just a hell of a lot more fun) you’ll understand if I choose to take Ms. Camel Toad’s letter at face value until given reason to believe otherwise. Personally, my favorite little bit of the entire letter is where Ms. C-T begs Not-Dear-Abby to tell her how she can figure out whether her godson is “smoking, taking, or licking” these elusive, sinister little hoppers. The mental images this sparks for me are themselves practically worth having read the letter in the first place.

I mean, okay, “licking” she got out of her “drug book”, and really that’s about the only thing you can DO with a toad, other than put him in a little terrarium with a rock and a water dish, or maybe jam him into one of those old Estes model rockets we used to shoot off when we were kids… remember, the ones with the little clear plastic “payload” section in the middle which was useful for absolutely nothing whatsoever besides sending little critters a thousand feet in the air?

But then she has to go into bonus territory and add “smoking” and “taking”. Now, “smoking” is funny enough on its ownimmediately a scene comes to mind of a couple of stoners sticking about half a dozen double-wide Zig-Zags together into one big ragged, gummy sheet, rolling up a still-wriggling Venezuelan Lickin’ Toad like a squat, lumpy Marley joint, then struggling madly to keep the damned thing lit, arguing about whether it was rolled too loosely, chasing down “canoes” with spit-drenched fingertips, then proceeding to sit there and debate over who’s the more high as the toad, still completely unburnt, crawls out of the scorched paper in the ashtray, and hops away unseen.

That image alone would have been worth having read this letter for. But nope, Ms. C-T had to push it one step beyond, and bless us with the additional ingestion descriptor, “taking”.

This one is the gift that, like a Jelly-of-the-Month Club subscription, jes’ keeps on givin’ the whole year ‘round. I mean it’s just so damned broad and all-inclusive, isn’t it?

Why, you could try and pop these ol’ toads like pills, just hook ‘em on down, try and chase ‘em with some water or juice or bourbon or something, and sit there writhing and clutching at your throat, turning all shades of plaid, until some bright soul comes along and Heimlich’s the little critter out of your throat. (Oxygen deprivation! Oldest buzz in the book!)

Also, you could always try and cook one of these little suckers up in a spoon like junk, and then try and tie off and shoot it. Here, it’s next to impossible not to see a naked, betracked arm with a toad-shaped vein in it, looking for all the world like a cartoon python that just ate… well, ate a giant toad.

People walking around with shitloads of toads duct-taped to their bodies like twitching nicotine patches… the possibilities are just endless!

I think this just goes to show that if we, as a nation, are going to continue to have our collective leg shackled to the drag-chain of legions of the incurably, Falwellianly, Bush-votingly butt-stupid, at least they will occasionally provide us with unintentional belly-laughs like this. Ah, those wacky ol’ Elmers.

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