It pains me to admit that I conspired by my silence in the deaths of 100’s of croakers during our first springtime in Houston. They died in a endless variety of ways. Mostly, Eric heaved them — THUMP, or occasionally SPLAT — against the house. But sometimes he aimed high, and more than once we found dead frogs on our vehicles in the front driveway the next morning, or saw their dessicated bodies on the roof when returned at the end of the day.
“Maybe I should have let the cops take you, after all,” I groused to his retreating, stomping figure one night. The man seemed by God determined to insure that I shared in his sleeplessness.
“What?” he said.
“Maybe I should come out and help you, after all,” I said, and got out of bed.
The calendar pages flipped slowly forward. May passed. It wasn’t 70 degrees anymore. The flowers wilted, and the mosquitoes hatched. A faint smell of decay — mold? — permeated the house, but it was no better outside. The sun burned everything in its searing gaze. Yet still the frogs croaked out their horny croaks and gamboled in sexual abandon every night.
“They’ll be gone by summer,” I said, certain that they would not. That they would never leave. That my previously-sane husband would be scribbling REDRUM across our bathroom mirror by August while the frogs croaked on. Because frogicide written backward doesn’t spell anything.
And then one day, they stopped.
Silence. Sleep. Happiness.
Months went by, blissful days leading irrevocably toward April. Make the clock move slower, I prayed to God.
Eric leaped up as if there were frogs in bed with him.
Not this time. Not again.
“Honey, stop,” I said, my voice brooking no argument.
He glared at me. All my man could see was frogs.
I handed him a pair of ear plugs.
“It’s evolutionary, honey, Darwinian. If our species is to survive, we must adapt.”
He stared at the foamy yellow plugs on either end of their neon orange string. I took his hand, placed them in his palm, then gently closed his fingers around them. I tugged him forward and led him out into our humid backyard, holding in my other hand a candle and matches. I left the outside lights off, and the male frogs sang out in sexual frenzy. I felt primal, like I was entering a hedonist temple.
Before the figure of Buddha, I knelt my husband. I handed him the candle and matches, then nudged him. “Light it, honey.” He did, a virgin on the sacrificial altar. Well, maybe that’s going a little too far. But he lit the candle.
“Now, honey, repeat after me,” I said.
I heard a mumbling, and I let it suffice.
“I, Eric, present myself before you, Buddha of the frogs,” I said.
Eric seemed to regain his senses, because the look he shot me said, “You’re out of your flippin’ gourd,” but I didn’t waiver, and he repeated my words.
“I promise to do no harm to any of your frog brothers and sisters, henceforth and forever more.”
“I’m not saying that,” he said.
“Humor, me. We did it your way all last summer,” I said. And honey, I’m voting you off THAT island.
He complied, with the enthusiasm of Morticia from the Addams Family.
“As a token of my sincerity, I pledge to you to wear these earplugs, and to install a frog shrine in our bedroom immediately.”
After he had finished speaking, we blew out the candle and tiptoed in perfect solemnity back into our room. There, I pulled two jolly stuffed frogs from a bag and propped them up on a pedestal table by the back window, between Eric and the live frogs.
“You actually went out and bought these in advance?” he asked.
“I knew I had to take matters into my own hands. I love you, and I want our marriage to withstand the test of frogs.”
“It’s that bad, huh?”
“Oh yeah, it’s that bad.”
Eric finally — FINALLY — smiled and swatted me on the behind. He put the ear plugs in.
“Those are kind of sexy,” I said.
“What?” he yelled.
And in case you hadn’t noticed the calendar, frog season is almost upon us. We haven’t heard them yet this year, but the little fockers will be here soon.
p.s. There are 50 bazillion frogs in our pond in Nowheresville, but they don’t have the same water torture impact on Eric. We’ll see how it goes when we live out there full time, however.
p.p.s. This one I wrote for my friend Sandy Webb over at Flying WG. Y’all go check out her blog and tell her I sent you.