My memory bank brings me the odd word pair: “Under Toad.” There’s no reason that I can discern for Under Toad’s recent appearances.
Under Toad is the literary invention of John Irving in his 1978 tragi-comic novel “The World According To Garp.” I read the book 40 years ago. Loved it.
The title character’s son Walt mishears warnings about the undertow at the beach as a warning about an “Under Toad.” Father T.S. Garp employs Under Toad henceforth to refer to the omnipresent threat of disaster that he sees lurking beneath the surface of everyday life.
My friend Rich Harwood has been traveling the country promoting his latest book “Stepping Forward.” It is a compelling call to action for citizens to step up and rebuild their communities.
He describes people “slogging through” their days due to Covid-19 uncertainties and disruptions. I believe Rich’s “slogging through” is the Under Toad at work in our lives. Imagine the sensation of walking in wet cement.
I am privileged.
I write on the screened-in porch of our 2,700 sq. ft. cottage shaded by 100-foot pines and 50- foot oaks. I listen to the songs of the American Golden Finch, Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, Chipping Sparrow, Pine Warbler and Tufted Titmouse. I watch the birds’ choreographed, flaps- down landings on our five bird feeders.
My wife and I live in Carlyle Place, a life plan community in Macon, GA. The 58-acre retirement complex has a common area of apartments and care units. Ours is one of 59 cottages that ring “The Big House.”
For all the protections Carlyle Place provides, we can’t escape the “omnipresent threat of disaster” from Covid-19.
It hasn’t breached the secured walls of our gated community. But we have a kind of hermetic seal around our lives.
Visitors are sharply limited. Distancing restrictions limit our ability to meet in groups larger than four. Masks are to be worn when we walk the bucolic grounds.
Parkinson’s sufferers like me are managing a second Under Toad. That’s Old Doc Parkinson’s penchant for throwing bean balls at us. Think lightning strikes of hypotensive lightheadedness or bladder overflow.
In the movie version of “The World According To Garp,” Robin Williams starred as Garp.
Williams died in 2017 with Parkinson’s.