My father’s friend, writer Dalton Trumbo, called the years of the Hollywood blacklist “the time of the toad.” I wonder what he’d call what’s happening today! The phrase comes from a line attributed to Emil Zola, Mark Twain and a number of other authors. Zola was purportedly giving advice to a young writer about the danger of literary critics; Twain was referring to the world in general. But the gist of the line suggests that if you eat a toad every morning for breakfast, after a while you’ll get used to it.
If nothing else, my father’s story is a cautionary tale that reminds us to not eat the toad in the first place!