There are things that happen to people. Bad things. Things that test the limits of their sanity. Things that can break them. That can push them over the edge and change them. Things that cause people to lose themselves.
One of these things happened to me. And I knew that if I didn’t conquer it, I would never be the same. And while it may not be easy for others to understand, for me it was real. Very real. I knew it was a battle that I had to win or it would defeat me. It would define me for the rest of my life. It would rule me. If I didn’t finish that bologna sandwich…if I didn’t force myself to eat the entire thing…if I didn’t consciously choose to chew it up and force myself to swallow it…I’m quite certain there would have been permanent damage in my mind. I was on the verge of being broken. Yes, my battle was a bologna sandwich. I’m not proud of it, but we can’t control these things, can we? Stay with me. I’ll explain.
To set the stage, I need to share just one tidbit of background information: I’m terrified of frogs. Boy, it feels good to have that off my chest. Yes, I’m scared of frogs. I’m scared of frogs! I know that by disclosing this, you may never look at me the same. You may think of me as the weird woman who is scared of frogs instead of as me, an otherwise normal individual who functions just fine in society. But I had to share. You had to know this in order to understand the sandwich.
So, it all started, well, let’s be realistic, this story started somewhere back in my childhood. But we don’t have time for that. We’ll skip over the traumatic frog experiences of my life (did you know they scream when on fire? did you know they pop when run over?) and get right to the events leading up to the bologna sandwich.
It was a dark and stormy night (seriously), and we were camping. I thought I would take the dog for a little walk even though it was wet outside. After all, we were camping anyway. So, I leashed the dog, and we took off. A girl and her dog. Off for a little walk in the rain. In the dark. I know, I know – what was I thinking? I was practically begging for a frog encounter. But, honestly, I thought I had my fear under control. I thought I could handle walking in the general vicinity of croaking amphibians without losing it. And I probably could have.
Until it happened.
My worst nightmare.
I’m not exaggerating.
This is something I have obsessed about ever since I was a little girl. Something that has been in the forefront of my mind every single time I walk outside at night. Something I have lain in bed at night an contemplated, only to give myself the shivers and force the thoughts from my mind. Literally, my worst nightmare.
I stepped on a bullfrog.
Remember, it’s pitch black dark! It’s raining. I can’t see a thing. But I felt that bulbous mass under my left arch and I knew right away what it was. It was a hideous feeling – worse than I imagined. But, I had a lightening fast reaction, and I rolled my foot to the left to get my precious foot off the beast. And something worse than I ever could have imagined happened. The frog jumped up the leg of my pants.
I immediately flailed and kicked until I caught a glimpse of the reflection of the moon off his grotesque white belly as he flew spread-eagle through the air. And then I was frozen. I couldn’t move. I mean, how could I? I couldn’t see anything, so I didn’t know where that villainous creature was or if he had an army of cohorts nearby ready to attack. But I knew the longer I waited, the greater the chance that I was being surrounded, so I began a panic-stricken shuffle back to our campsite. I couldn’t breathe. I was doing some sort of high-pitched moan that didn’t quite sound human – certainly not something that’s ever come out of me before. I couldn’t think. It was the longest 100 feet of my life – just trying to reach safety.
I’ll spare you the details of the rest of my panic attack. Let’s just say it was ugly and leave it at that. It took hours to stop crying, to calm my racing heart, to stop shaking. Hours of laughing and crying and laughing while crying. I was not in control of my emotions, to say the least.
And when I finally calmed down, I was hungry.
Enter the bologna sandwich.
I sank my teeth into that sandwich, and all I could think about was the striking resemblance between the cold, clammy, moist skin that was pressed up against my left leg and the remarkably similar texture of that cursed bologna. Every time I chewed, I felt that frog on my leg. I felt it like it was really there. And then I tasted it. I felt that amphibian skin in my mouth. I looked at that slice of bologna between two slices of bread, and I saw that frog looking back at me with his ugly little froggy eyes and his arms and legs overhanging the crust of my bread.
I had to finish that sandwich. Don’t you see what was happening!? If I didn’t finish that sandwich, the frog would have won. My mind would have never been the same. I would have been broken. I had to force myself to overcome those temporary pangs of insanity. I had to eat a bologna sandwich made out of a frog.
And I did it! I gagged my way through it. I concentrated. I dug deep and fought to keep myself. I chewed that sandwich. I ate that sandwich. I finished that disgusting, froggish, nightmarish sandwich, and I was victorious!! I WON! I will not be controlled by my fear. I will live a normal life! The frogs will not rule me! I will not make accommodations for amphibians. I will live my life to the fullest! I finished the sandwich!!!
But I will never wear boot-cut jeans again. I mean, skinny jeans don’t look good on me, but let’s be realistic – they are much safer.
And I will always carry a flashlight.
Oh, and I’ll never eat bologna again.