Fab the Fortunate Frog   January 9, 2017

“Some twigs are self-evident.” With this proclamation, Fab decided to run for president of the pond. Problem is—frogs seldom run. They hop. Days passed. No leaps. No croaks. Just a soapbox with a peculiar poisonous mushroom that served as a microphone and sad, lonely walks in what was left of the woods.

It was a beautiful morning, but to the chagrin of his toad therapist, he couldn't chase disheartening thoughts from his head.

Despite his decree, he knew it would still be the same old same old, just disguised as the new. He had big ideas, but there were still so many questions like, Who would have the right to vote? With what currency would his citizens pay their taxes—with minnows perchance? With newts? Newts are spotty little creatures with red speckles on cold gray skin. At least they would be difficult to counterfeit. But it didn't seem fair that some inhabitants should pay taxes and others should be taxes.

“I will never sacrifice the minnows,” he said to himself out loud. “Nor will I forfeit the newts.” These further proclamations were overhead by hopeful note-taking crickets.

Actually, all these considerations annoyed him, because all he really wanted to do was relax on a wobbly pad. On top of this, he was in terrible pain. As he grew older, he developed a bit of gout in the big toe of his left foot, just above the web. “So no more tequila sunrises for me,” he thought. (And, for that matter, very few sunsets either.) Besides, the lily pads were turning brown and sinking, dying of a mischievous disease. Even if he stopped running and returned to his previous mode of locution, there would be no place fun left to hop.

Meanwhile, the sun set, a quarter past a tall ash, just as a fly alighted on a brown and brittle leaf that had fallen from said ash that past November. “This will be easy,” he thought. And so with a flick of the tongue he sent the tasty though unfortunate insect down his froggy throat.

“So, what shall I do with the banks?” he wondered. “I am an amphibian. Certainly I cannot control the banks while I'm deep underwater. I must stay above ground. I need the green banks spotted with hollyhocks blooming.”

There were other concerns as well. Take the koi, for instance: some were gold, others white, some gold with white spots, and some a drab gray. Shouldn't the gold ones pay more taxes? “Not really,” he proclaimed. (This was overheard and duly reported by the admiring but penniless crickets.)

Meanwhile, he noticed that a ripple appeared every time a koi surfaced. He wondered, “Do the koi create ripples or do ripples create koi?”

He had no sense of history, no way of knowing. Besides, the ripples reflected the trees and sky above the pond so that all reality rippled on its delicate surface. He knew it was still and calm at the bottom. He was an Emersonian, a true transcendentalist. He believed in the deep-down of the pond as well as the deep-down of himself.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, he was blue. Did you know that a frog’s skin has three layers? The deepest layer appears brown or black but is invisible to the naked eye. So why even mention it? Directly above it is a layer that reflects light off purine crystals inside its cells. As sunlight penetrates down through the skin, the little mirrors of this middle layer reflect blue light back up to the surface.

The outer layer of a frog’s skin is yellow. Normally, the reflected blue and the yellow collude so frogs appear green. But Fab was not a normal frog; he lacked the yellow layer. So for all his life—after the tadpole stage, of course—he’d been blue. This inadequacy had not given him an inferiority complex. Quite the contrary. Fab thought his particular blue was lapis, like the mineral mined in Sar-i Sang, a nether region of Afghanistan. When ground into powder and combined with oil, that lapis became the ultramarine in the paintings of Titian and Vermeer.

Suddenly Fab felt a single drop of rain on what was a poor excuse for a forehead. This soon turned to an ominous drizzle. For a long time the drops fell slowly, one by one. His 360-degree frog’s eyes followed the succession of drips around the pond without a bodily flinch. He realized that when a raindrop collided with the pond it created a ripple.

It’s a known fact, and there are a few facts still left in the world, that koi swim to the bottom of the pond whenever it begins to rain. I don’t have an explanation for this. Obviously, it’s not to stay dry. After all was said and done, with the presence of ripples and obvious absence of koi, Fab concluded that perhaps koi were not responsible for the rippling of reality. It was the rain. Anyway, ripples don’t much care about koi.

These were reasonable and correct conclusions, but unfortunately Fab carried his logic further. He assumed that each drop of rain, and consequently each emanating ripple, was a vote for him as president, president of this incredible pond. This erroneous assumption was the eventual cause of his downfall. (A long story I don’t have time to tell.)

With maturity and the short-lived but profound love of another—a blondish amphibian, in fact—he came to realize that the ripples emanating from each drop were not political, or metaphorical, or even musical or magical but simply an incidental phenomenon of nature that, by hook or by crook, as one grows old, becomes truth in a long, lovely, and lasting redemption.