This here bringer of the pooper to the fun party

Wildlife Encounters, episode “Frog”

On the evening before I had to leave Maui to return to Utah, all five of us who had gathered there — Stacia, Tanya, Piper, Eyre, and me — headed out in the dark to perform a certain cleansing ritual on the beach. That is not my story to tell, but as we were leaving the grounds of the resort we stumbled upon a frog that was quite possibly the size of a football. It is my understanding that frogs are not indigenous to Hawaii, particularly ones that are bigger than some newborn babies, so I sized it up and decided that I should balance it on my head, cover it with my hat and sneak it through security on my way home. If a TSA agent discovered it, I’d be like, listen. It is not against the law to want to help preserve the ecosystem.

Do not arrest me, sir. Elect me your mayor.

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When I leaned down to inspect it the girls told me to leave it be, we had a mission that night and it did not involve kidnapping a frog. FINE. I’d look for it on our way back, and as we continued walking toward the beach a stray cat darted across the lawn. I stopped one more time and told everyone that we needed to look around to see if we were being followed by any mythical bobcats, raccoons, rattlesnakes, squirrels, or white birds who wanted to die at my feet.

We spent about an hour on the beach, each of us sipping various cocktails as we reminisced about some good and some not so good memories. In the end we achieved a little bit of closure which was our mission for the evening, and then headed back to the condo. At the exact spot where we had seen the frog on our way out we found him again, except he was lying on his back, each of his limbs splayed out as if waiting for dissection in a high school biology class. He was not breathing or moving or showing any signs of life.

“You think the cat got him?” Tanya asked.

“Had to have been the cat,” Stacia responded. We all surrounded his body in a circle and leaned over him looking for wounds.

I reached my hand out to tap his silent belly when Eyre swatted my hand.

“What if it was some crazy frog disease and not the cat? You can’t touch him. It could kill you, too.”

“Some crazy frog disease?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said. “Birds have their own diseases, cows have their own diseases. I’m sure frogs have some, too.” I adore how she was so equal opportunity with the frogs.

“My bet is on the cat,” I said. And then I got really upset that here I was again encountering wildlife in some awful way. Why can’t cats stay out of my attic? Why can’t squirrels stay out of my window well? Why do birds choose my doorstep as their death bed? Had my energy drawn doom to this poor, albeit enormous frog?

I was standing there experiencing this sorrow when I decided to drip my cocktail onto his head. What? Do not look at me like that. You know exactly whose website you are reading. In my mind I thought it would be some sort of spiritual gesture, a baptism of sorts, a “sorry you had to cross paths with me and die.” Several drops pooled on his neck, and I held my forehead as if I’d lost some childhood pet. I was about to close my eyes in reverence when suddenly that amphibian shivered, SHOOK HIS HEAD, and then jumped three feet straight into the air.

That motherfucker missed my face by two inches.

He landed on his feet and faced me specifically. Ahem. First, he shivered. Like a teenager tasting liquor for the first time. Second, he shook his damn head. Like, who do these bitches think they are coming along and interrupting his nap. Three, HE STARTED TO CHASE ME. Okay, here’s another first of all: I’ve come a really long way with spiders and snakes because, well, I live in Utah and I have kids and someone has to hold their shit together when encountering those things. But frogs? You don’t find a lot of frogs where I live and here was one the size of a horse charging me and I could not control the violent screaming that was erupting from my face.

Screeching. Yelping. People leaned out of their windows to ask who was in the courtyard gutting pigs.

You would have screamed, too. Do not lie to me and say otherwise.

I managed to escape the dragon, but I don’t think I stopped screaming until I got off of the elevator, into the condo and hid underneath my bed.

Eyre and I had to leave the following day before everyone else, and when I got settled in at the airport I thought about all the inside jokes we’d be taking home with us from the days we’d spent on the beach together. I group texted them a goodbye and then said, “DO NOT FORGET: I RESURRECTED A FROG WITH BOURBON.”

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  • I don’t have words for how much I need a trip to Maui (even with the possibility of being chased by a demon frog).

  • crooked teeth

    Ribbit.

  • MM

    Nice swim cover — where did you find it??

  • Best. story. ever.

    (and yeah, I’da swatted your hand away as well. You could’ve gotten Frog Fever. It’s a thing.)

    (it’s not a thing.)

  • Heather Armstrong

    Thanks! I got it about five years ago from Victoria’s Secret. Wear it all summer.

  • Heather Armstrong

    If I had touched it, that would most definitely have become a thing.

  • My teen is in Maui on his two week long senior trip. They are calling it a service learning trip. Mmmm. This was too funny. Sheesh, you are really lucky that frog could have had rabies and there is nothing more dangerous than a drunk frog. . .Looks like you had a marvelous time.

  • Elspeth

    During my sophomore year of college I lived in the basement level of a dorm right next to the teeny on-campus lake, which seems to be primarily occupied by mosquitoes and, yes, frogs. But these frogs were normal-sized, even tiny, and for about a month during spring, thousands upon thousands of tadpoles metamorphosed into tiny frogs about the size of my thumbnail. Somehow they kept getting into the pipes or something, and so we kept finding tiny frogs in the shower stalls. Being someone who likes frogs, I usually ended up going to the rescue of whichever of the girls started screeching about a tiny brown-black jumping thing in the shower, which meant catching the frog in my hands and carrying it back outside. Totally harmless, and rather sweet in an amphibious sort of way!

    Any bigger, though, and I’d probably have been more squeamish.

  • Alexis Fritz

    http://www.maui.net/maui-people/blog/369/
    Cane(bufo) toads are actually poisonous so lucky you didn’t touch it. Although there is a nasty drug you can make from their slime…

  • genoendicott

    Heather, Frog Whisper.

  • Ellere

    That’s a toad.

  • Frog wanted more of your drink. That’s all. Great pix & story. Thx for sharing the journey. Someday I’ll get there. What a blast to do it with a kindred crew like that.

  • I LOVE those stories! Shit happens and friends never let each other forget about it! Maybe you should have kept the frog, join some frog racing…

    I love Maui!

  • That frog is terrifying. End of story.

  • Denise Webber

    Those photos are simply stunning, made me want to visit and I hate flying.

  • Jennifer Cafferty-Davis

    Wonderful pictures – what a great girls’ trip for you. And I don’t know who the “messenger of love” tattoo guy is, but what a cutie. I’d travel a lot more if there was a messenger of love guaranteed on every adventure. 😉

  • Tinks

    That’s not a frog, that is a Toad, and they are very poisonous
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/toad

  • martinifontaine

    Now I’m trolling the internet for condos in Hawaii. THANKS HEATHER.

  • Esther Montgomery

    I love how you captured the essence of fun in these photos. They were beautiful.
    *sigh* I wanna go to Hawaii.
    This is my frog story. It may have
    been a dream, but it seemed very real.

    Many years ago, my then future sister-in-law and I decided to go drinking after
    dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack. A bottle and a half of premium tequila was split
    equally among us. Later, back at my place we each took turns praying to the porcelain
    goddess and regretting our pre-festivity dinner choice. During her final turn
    I sat on my bed and promptly passed out with my feel still on the floor. The
    dream: I was in my grandparent’s house and the whole family was outside
    encouraging me to come outside because of an incredibly large frog (very much
    like the one in your photo) and an undersized alligator (about the length of my
    arm, wrist to elbow). I replied that I couldn’t “because they would get me”. At
    that point, the frog grinned at me showing its large “River Monster” teeth and
    nodded. That’s when I woke up screaming. My SIL was in the living room with my
    boyfriend (now husband) and thought she heard me scream, but he thought it was
    the violent video game he was playing.

    Tequila lemon drops. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  • Unstinky

    was the frog just trying to tan its belly?

  • Grant

    Yep, something that big & that ugly would be what we know here as a Cane Toad.
    Introduced here in Australia to eat the bugs on sugar cane. Turns out they ate everything but those bugs.
    Prolific breeders, the tadpoles a highly toxic to most animals if ingested, and the adult toads have poison glands on their backs.
    The end result is lots of cane toads, and the almost extinction (although they are making a come back now) of many lizard species- it took them a long time to figure out that you can’t eat a toad. Unless they’re suicidal.

  • adjei martins

    Why. Continue.

  • Niki J

    That is NOT a frog! THAT is the gatekeeper and key master ghoul from Ghostbusters!

  • babykatesmom

    I used to want to go to Hawaii until you told that story. I don’t do frogs. A huge one jumped on my bare calf while we were waiting in line for the bus at Disney World a year ago. My kids are still talking about it.

  • Penelope Luedtke

    Thanks for posting the pictures. They’re beautiful, I loved them.

  • Heidi

    Holy cow, you stayed at the same condo complex that my family did!

  • Michele S.

    My daughter’s name is Piper and if I was a betting girl, I’d say your Piper was the life of the party. You CAN’T have the name Piper and not be. It’s like an unspoken rule. We knew we were screwed when we named her that. 🙂

  • WebSavvyMom.com

    I’m pretty sure Bourbon in the nectar of the
    gods….

  • Mommiebear2

    That was the biggest damn frog I have ever seen!!!!!

  • Nicole B.

    I feel like this was a good day to read this story. Today also happens to be the day I finished Tuck Everlasting. Alternate title: Tuck Bourbon Tasting

  • pinkiepea

    It was a bufo toad aka cane toad. It’s a good thing the cat didn’t get it — the toads are poisonous and will kill small animals that bite it, sometimes within minutes. Larger animals, like my aunt’s dog who licked one a few years ago, will foam at the mouth, have seizures, etc. I’ve also heard that they can squirt the poison when attacked, which could blind you if it gets in your eyes. So you wouldn’t have gotten frog fever, but poison. Glad you didn’t touch it! But I have no idea why it was lying on its back. That’s just weird.

    I also have had to get a lot braver about such things since we bought a house here on Oahu — there are a lot of creepy crawlies and gross things that live in paradise. Like the six-inch centipede which I cut in half and then stung my one-year old daughter when she picked it up hours later. HOURS. LATER. And then having to pull the partly dead half a centipede out of her hand before it stung her again. There are reasons certain people (like me) still have to take prozac in Hawaii.

  • KristenfromMA

    I love frogs.

  • Taylor

    Awesome you went on the boat I used to work for! They do a great job. And frog or toad I have never seen one of those since I have lived here on Maui. So thanks for the bad dreams of killer amphibians.

  • Trish

    I also recognised it as a Cane Toad and had to google “are cane toads in hawaii” to learn that that’s where we got them from in the first place. They are a pest. A poisonous, nasty pest.

  • Mano Ranjithan

    NIce story while reading morning in the office..

  • Angie

    In Australia, people play tennis or golf or just plain ‘squish the cane toad’, so toxic are those things. I’m not even joking (not like when we tell Americans about drop bears and kangaroos carrying our bags to school or anything). It’s a good thing you didn’t touch it because there’s a good chance it would have poisoned you. But what are cane toads doing in Hawaii for goodness sake? Those things are fast breeding, eco system destroying monsters.