My young friend Monica told me she is mourning the death of one of her “show frogs.” I wasn’t aware that there was such a thing. This could be my ticket to fame and fortune. I could become a renowned breeder and showman of championship frogs.

I could dress him up in a top hat and tails and keep him in a box. When I remove the lid from the box, he would jump out and perform a stylish side-shuffle and a rousing rendition of “Hello, my baby, hello my honey; hello my ragtime gal. Send me a kiss by wire; baby my heart’s on fire.”

“You have been watching too many old cartoons,” said Monica. “I love my show frogs and they have won lots of awards.”

“I love frogs, too,” I said, especially with a side order of coleslaw.”

Monica was mortified.

“How many poor helpless frogs had to die for you to satisfy your lust for animal flesh?” she asked.

“How many? Well, my last order was for 12 frog legs, so that would be three frogs. No, wait, I read somewhere that they only use the meatier hind legs, so that would be six frogs,” I answered. “Maybe the frogs were not killed. Maybe their legs were carefully and humanely removed by skilled veterinarians using precision surgical instruments, while the frogs were under the influence of general anesthesia. Maybe they are recovering nicely in an amphibian nursing home, being wheeled around by white-coated attendants.”

“Get real!” she said. “They are dead, you murderer! I would never ever eat frog legs,” she added. “I consider my body a temple and I treat it as such! Anyway, most of my frogs have very skinny legs.”

“Well, my body is not a temple. I consider my body to be a shabby, inner city, store-front church and I occasionally treat it to a nice order of frog legs. If those frogs were mine, I would have them working out on tiny treadmills at the amphibian gym until they had hind legs like kangaroos. A little squeeze of lemon juice and a side order of fries…yummy.”

“My frogs are not for eating! They are friendly and make excellent pets. Some of them cost as much as $50! You have to provide adequate food  and water and a safe environment and keep them moist.”

“Oh, I agree,” I said. “I find that using a liberal coating of cornmeal breading and very hot vegetable oil keeps them very moist and tender. What is a pet frog good for? They can’t even fetch the newspaper or retrieve a stick. What’s the point? May I ask what happened to your recently deceased show frog?”

“I knew he was sick,” she said. “He got these big blisters on his back. When I popped them, worms crawled out.”

When my stomach settled down, I expressed my condolences and asked her what a person does with a terminally ill pet frog. You can’t take him out behind the shed and put a bullet in his head like Old Yeller. It would be hard to hit a target that small with a shotgun. If you did, there would not be enough recognizable pieces left to hold a decent funeral.

“The most humane thing to do,” said Monica, “is to put them in the freezer and freeze them to death.”

“In the freezer? What if he fell into the ice cube tray and froze and you accidentally used the ice cube in a house guest’s drink and she thought it was one of those novelty ice cubes until it thawed out and began doing the backstroke in her iced tea?”

“Make fun of me all you want but there is big money in show-frog competition.”

Hmm, there’s a thought. I found my potential champion in a neighbor’s pond. I named him Hop-along Cassidy of Calavares County and put him through intensive training. I was sure I had the next competition all sewed up, but when I took him out of the box and placed him on the podium, he got stage fright and all he said was “ribbit.”

Even though my dreams of fame and fortune have been squashed, you can still see my beloved Hop-along. He is appearing at the Knotty Pine Tavern. You will find him listed under “seafood appetizers.” Be sure to ask for a little tartar sauce on the side.



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