Knock Off the Toad Kissing

(Originally published, December 5, 2022)

Last month, the Washington Post carried a story by Adela Suliman with a rather bizarre headline: “Please Stop Licking the Psychedelic Toads, National Park Service Warns.” The message was issued in October to warn people about kissing, licking, or making any kind of oral contact with toads. 
Apparently the Sonoran desert toad, also kn
own as the Colorado river toad, secretes a white, milky substance called bufotenin, which scientists say can act as a hallucinogenic. This prompted a series of celebrities who have talked about ingesting the substance as a way of inducing a psychedelic trip. Through misinformation and repetition, the idea has morphed into the possibility that someone could get high simply by licking one of these toads. So now it’s a thing.
In an abundance of caution, the National Park Service decided to put that myth to rest in a post on its Facebook account:
“These toads have prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin. It can make you sick if you handle the frog or get the poison in your mouth. As we say with most things you come across in a national park, whether it be a banana slug, unfamiliar mushroom, or a large toad with glowing eyes in the dead of night, please refrain from licking. Thank you.”
So, I’ve been puzzling over this story all day. The first thought that popped into my head was Three Dog Night - “Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine.” I can’t get it out of my head. And the more I thought about the article, some questions came to mind: 
First, how bad does one’s life have to be before one decides to get high on toad licking? I’m thinking pretty bad. Better remedies are available, God knows.
Second, how is a young woman ever going to find her Prince Charming if toad kissing turns toxic? On the other hand, maybe it’s the bufotenin that makes frogs look like princes in the first place.
Third and finally, what about the toads? There they were, just minding their own business, suddenly in the spotlight, swept up in their newfound popularity, swapping slobber with nasty humans, before being dumped beside the road, back in the wild, their fame forgotten. Oh, to have loved and lost.
Not sure how many of us can identify with the toad lickers in this story. Maybe a few. Perhaps more of us would side with the toads. Does life ever seem to use you up and then dump you out along the way? Is that your story? No fun, is it? 
Real joy is never drug induced. It’s not a potion or a gimmick or the passion of the moment. True joy comes from the real Joy-Giver, the One whose coming we celebrate around the world. “Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea. Joy to you and me.”


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