January 27, 2005

How To Kill A Frog

Before I begin, please allow me to apologize for making light of a situation that some may view as grave (no pun intended) or disturbing. Trust me when I tell you that no one on this earth was sorrier than I when the incident took place ~ but I honestly believe that only through humor can we survive the tragic. Go ahead, argue that one. I dare you.

Years ago, my daughter received a joyous gift from one of her aunts. I still haven't forgiven said aunt, but that's another story entirely. She was given the gift of a water frog. Oh joy. In my current line of work, one might suspect that this thrilled me to bits, but at the time, I was not in my current line of work, and didn't much think about the educational aspect of such a present. Still, the child was greatly excited by it, and named him Fred.

Fred was adorable. He was tiny and lived in a small habitat filled with water. It didn't take long for even me to become attached to the little bugger. If you looked into his habitat he'd actually swim right up the the side and stare out at you, almost with a smile. (well, frogs can't help but smile, it's something about the shape of their mouths)

Fred was quite easy to maintain. He ate little pellets of "food stuff" which consisted of squished up shrimp, (at least I think that's what it was), and he made no noise whatsoever. All we had to do was keep his environment temperate and change out his water about twice a month. Seemed pretty simple to me ... until we tried to change out his water.

I read the instruction booklet very thoroughly and took great care to place clean water into a small plastic tub so that while I was cleaning his habitat, he'd swim around happily, probably seeing it as a little vacation. I placed his habitat on my stove top. No, no, it's not what you're thinking. I didn't cook Fred. I placed it there so that the mild warmth emanating from the pilot light underneath the surface might help keep the water just right to avoid shock upon returning him into it. I had one of those large stoves with ample room between the two sets of burners. I took the small net provided to remove the frog from his dirty water ... gently scooped him out and placed him into the clean container. He swam to his heart's content ... stretching his little muscular frog legs all over the place. I cleaned out the habitat as my daughter watched and argued the whole while that she could do a better job of this whole process. In retrospect, she probably could have.

Finally it was time to return Fred to his nice, clean home. I took the net and gently lifted him from the container. Sadly, Fred had other plans. Off the net he jumped and directly into the hole at the side of one of the stove burners. I never knew my voice could pitch quite that high nor quite that loudly. My daughter looked on in absolute horror and between the two of us, we grabbed everything off the stove top and pulled up at the top section, lifting it to try to save the frog. No Fred. He somehow managed to find a way down to the next level, which one would think was the oven ... but noooooo. This little guy hopped his way clear through to the broiler at the very bottom of the stove! I grabbed a flashlight (still screaming like a banshee) and searched the entire broiler section only to spot another hole that leads out of the stove and onto the floor.

They say super-strength kicks in at times of great shock or panic. True. I pulled that huge stove out from the wall with one burst and much to our horror, there layed Fred. He was covered in dust, so much so in fact, that it looked like the poor little guy had been there for two years. He wasn't moving. He wasn't smiling either.

My first reaction was to stand there, flashlight in hand, and say "ewwww." But that changed quickly with the help of my child shouting in my ear "YOU KILLED FRED!"

I gingerly removed the carcass and kind of blew the dust bunnies off him ... then placed him into his nice clean habitat. Frogs sink quickly when they've been traumatized.

Now I turned to my daughter and hugged her tightly, as if that might make some sort of difference ~ it didn't. She was almost inconsolable. I felt so, so terrible. It was the only time I ever remember wishing I were still Catholic, just so I could race off to Confession and be forgiven, by SOMEBODY!

My daughter ran off to her room, adequately punishing me for killing her pet, and now I was left standing there alone, well - except for dead Fred. Then something amazing happened. He moved. He poked out one little arm and then another. He was alive! I yelled out to my daughter to come quickly! She and I must have stood there for a solid hour waiting for more signs of life, but unfortunately, that little kick was his last. Maybe he was trying to lash out at me. Perhaps if I had been more attentive, I would have noticed his little tiny middle finger waving in my direction. Who knows?

I've long since recovered from killing Fred. My daughter has also, though she kindly reminds me of this trauma every chance she gets. Luckily, she shares my humor and we both manage to get beyond such things somehow.

This Christmas Santa sent my daughter two tadpoles with a large habitat. They are cute as buttons. They will eventually grow arms and legs and require gross foodstuffs ... but for now, they swim around happily eating their pressed pellets. My daughter feeds them and cleans out their habitat. She won't let me near them. Wise, wise girl.


Blogger Swifty said...

Amazingly, your writing has improved. This piece is so simply written, is clear, clean and precise, yet it still retains your most important characteristics: the quality of your storytelling and great humour.

Still green with envy,

10:31 AM  
Blogger Wally said...


Poor Fred! However; touching, funny, and a great story!
Hopefully, that little guy was a Catholic, himself. I would like to believe that his last little gasp... was to get out an Act of Contrition, yeah; before that little fellow finally croaked! ;-)

12:01 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...


Fantastic story. This was very well written and I enjoyed reading it, even if Fred met an untimely end.

It reminded me of the stories my dad tells about his sister killing his turtle when the family went on vacation. It's amazing to think of the stories that everyone has, but seldom share. Thanks for sharing the story.


3:39 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Frog killer! Oh, my God, I don't know if I can read anymore. Poor green ducky Fred

Actually, I know what this is like. I've had fish and plants commit suicide to get away from me. You wouldn't think a plant could commit suicide but alas, it is true.

11:47 PM  
Blogger Kenneth said...

actually i just killed a frog in cold blood in my backyard.

He came right next to me and didn't move even when i stomped my foot at him.

So i kicked a huge construction block at him, i thought he was dead. I kickd the block 5 times but he was still moving.

So i grabbed a sharp stick and poked him and he ran off like nothing happened.

I was pissed with the poor froggy and impaled him with my makeshift sword. This time he didn't move and is dying as we speak cold alone and in the middle of an empty stret.

10:34 PM  
Blogger Weary Hag said...

How boring, Kenneth - who apparently really isn't. Lousy writing structure here, and terrible imagination. Borderline stupid, actually.

5:48 AM  

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