I write with a frog on my shoulder. No, it is not a metaphor. It is a Litoria caerulea. An Australian green tree frog commonly known as a dumpy tree frog. I went to the pet store to purchase crickets for Ernesto. The young girl at the cricket bin asked me what I was feeding. I told her that I was feeding an Australian green tree frog.
“A what?” she responded.
“An Australian green tree frog. A Litoria caerulea.”
Her furrowed brow and confused glazed eyes indicated to me that she had no idea what I was talking about even though the terrarium behind her was labeled in a green paint pen, “Australian Green Tree Frogs for Sale! A hearty friendly species! The Perfect Pet!”
“Well, what do they look like?” she asked.
“Well, they’re frogs that are green because they’re green tree frogs. Sometimes, my little guy turns blue depending on the temperature.”
My response was met with squinted eyes. It was as if by squinting her eyes the image would appear beneath her eyelids, “Yeah, don’t think I’ve ever seen one. I’ve seen brown frogs before. Are they called something else maybe?”
“They’re also called Dumpy tree frogs because they have large fat deposits on their head and back,” I explained.
“Oh,” she scoffed sinking back into her shoulders as if they would conform to her body and close in on her like a protective shell.
“Is everything okay?” Her turtle reaction was strange to me.
“You shouldn’t call them that,” she sneered attitude drooling out of her mouth.
“Call them what?”
Her chest puffed up like a proud feathered cock about to crow, “Dumpy. The word dumpy is offensive to the animal.”
I took the bag of crickets out of her hand and began cautiously walking backwards. I was taught to never turn my back on two kinds of people, the crazy and the stupid. I paid for my crickets, walked across the rain soaked parking lot, started my car and began laughing hysterically. I pulled into my gravel covered driveway and wiped the tears of hilarity off my cheeks. I fed Ernesto who delightfully gobbled up ten of the twelve crickets I had just purchased.
“I’m sorry to have offended you, Sir Ernesto,” I smiled as I picked up my little frog, placed him on my shoulder, and wrote this down.