Was born and raised in the Northeast. Almost all of my life experiences came from that area of the USA.

When we moved to South Carolina in 1998, we were faced with lots of new learning. Plants were different. Accents were strange. Critters abounded. Storms seemed more severe, since there were no mountains to break them up. Rituals and customs had to be carefully understood.

One of the first lessons I learned was – "Keep the toilet lid down." Now, that might seem contrary to the normal way a woman wants her toilet to be arranged, but my new neighbors assured me that I would be happier with the lid down.

` You see, no matter how carefully the plumber installed the system in the home, little critters can find their way through the water into your toilet bowl. My neighbor described her encounter with a little snake as it crawled down the outside of her toilet and onto the bathroom floor. That incident helped her remember to keep her lid down.

Before you sit on a Southern toilet, lift the lid and check inside for visitors. Seeing none, flush BEFORE you sit down. That will insure your privacy from slithering or jumping guests.

I have only had two toilet visitors – one in South Carolina and one here in Florida. Both were very small frogs. I scared them as much as they scared me. When I flushed them down the drain, I could almost hear their sighs of relief.

A recent encounter with frogs really didn't start in the bathroom. For a number of days, we heard a frog croaking in our master bedroom. We tore the place apart searching for it, but couldn't find it. Finally, I saw it hopping on the windowsill. It jumped down into the window track. So, Jim got the vacuum and sucked it up. He then took it outside and set it free on the front lawn.

Matter solved, right? Wrong. The next morning there was more croaking. Either the frog found its way back or it had a twin. This time, Jim went outside to see how they were getting inside the house. He found a cap missing on the window and put some putty inside to block it.

So, now we have a frog trapped inside the bedroom with no way to get out. He woke me up at 2 a.m. this morning, croaking and complaining. I wasn't about to turn on the light and chase him around the room, even though that's what he deserved. I finally got back to sleep and he must have grown tired, too. We're both a little bleary-eyed this morning.

Living with a little frog in the bedroom might get some people nervous. I don't like the thought of his jumping on me while I am asleep, but based on my experience with the little frogs, they want to stay far away from humans. Plus, the way I snore will probably keep him from getting too close.

We have also had geckos in the house. Those bother me more than the frogs, even though I truly love geckos. They are inquisitive critters and usually stand and stare at me when I try to shoo them away. I can just imagine how thrilled a gecko would be to jump on me while I was sleeping. Happily, we haven't had one invade our bedroom (yet).

So, now you have had your Southern toilet lesson. Even when you are visiting Disney World and staying in an expensive hotel, please remember to keep the lid down. The little critters don't know or care that you're paying an arm and a leg for your room. They just enjoy the adventure.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.