The headline hopped off the page: “Five-legged frog found in Jacksonville.” I like local papers covering local stuff, and that definitely qualifies as “local.”
Things like this happen everywhere on the planet, but folks tend to focus only on “their” own freaks. Nature’s anomalies seldom pique national interest.
But every now and then, particularly weird physical changes impact all of us. For example, some people in government have developed startling characteristics. Lately many politicians have grown extra faces, which is confusing and sometimes downright scary.
Thankfully there’s no linkage between physiological morphing in politics and the frog thing, although both can impact businesses. Shaving for two-faced politicians has to be a nightmare but is no doubt wonderful for Gillette.
Our frog thing likewise has possible economic benefits. Frog legs are good to eat, so a strain of the amphibians with extra extremities bodes well for that industry.
It could even be good for the country. President Obama throws money at “green” jobs in hopes some benefits will sprout. What could be greener than a frog factory?
But alas, our frog is just a freak, not a mutation; therefore, the extra digit won’t be carried by its future tadpole generations. Surely geneticists are working on this. I’d be surprised if Colonel Sanders didn’t dream about growing chickens with twice the drumsticks.
“Ripley’s Believe it or Not” cultivated interest in strange and weird stuff. Back in the day it was my favorite section of the Sunday paper.
It showcased things like a woman in Milwaukee being grown in the shape of a potato. Hey wait! Maybe I have that reversed and the potato looked like the woman. Whoever had whatever shape, I’m forever fascinated with the oddities of the world.
In high school, we made up Ripley stuff to put in our school newspaper under the copyright-safe banner, “Believe it or Don’t.” I remember a mathematical “fact” we published in our first edition: “Two plus two equals five million.”
Of course it made no sense whatsoever, but we fell into gales of laughter when it came off the mimeograph machine and hit the halls. Abject stupidity was very much alive and well in my crowd.
Under the cover of the Ripley’s franchise, we poked fun at English and pushed the envelope of high school censorship in the paper. To wit, “A male lamb is called a ‘ram’ and a donkey is called an ‘ass,’ yet a ram in the ass becomes a ‘goose.’ Believe it or Don’t!”
Writing about such Mother Nature detours conjures up fond memories of my paternal grandmother. To this young boy, she was Disneyland way before Walt built the first one.
Grandma Bo never drove past places advertising things like “Two-headed lizard ahead!” or “See the Gila Monster!” She also never passed a “Stuckey’s” because she had a raging pecan habit, which fit nicely with my raging fireworks habit.
Typing this five-legged frog column, I kept thinking about Grandma Bo and smiling. If alive today, you can bet she’d hop in the car to go see that critter.
Otis Gardner’s column appears here weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.