Inspection- Kissing the Frog, Smooching the Toad

Socialized medicine… gays in the military… “government motors…” …closing Gitmo…

So much to be afraid of. So many things we fuss and fume about.

Or should we just kiss the frog, smooch the toad?

Old fairy tale. How it usually goes is the frog turns into a prince; or princess if you wish the gender altered version. I suppose we could get real weird with that, but let’s just stick to the more simplistic duality of human relations for now. And of course we always have the phrase used during dating with similar connotations: “kissing a toad.”

I think we all have the story a little upside down, or backwards. Like the parables told by Jesus, some miss the message; the meaning or get it all twisted around: more than a bit upside down.

Almost a month ago I zipped down Stillwater Reservoir in my 16 foot tri-hull called The Freudian Slip Ship. A brief break before the busy summer tour.

Did I just type “break?”

I was rewarded upon opening the door to camp with no water; a partially broken hand pump and a generator that seems quite cranky because it had been moved from the tree damaged old shed to the new one just finished last autumn. So… no electricity either, though the propane lanterns did attract some visitors: mosquitoes and blackflies.

I taped the doors and windows shut with duct tape.

Bzzzzzzzzzz… swat… bzzzzzz… late at night.

I taped every 2 by 8 that had a slight crack to it as it passed through the walls.

Bzzzzzzzzzz… swat… bzzzzzz… late at night.

I have a habit of going out of my way to kill the little buggers, so I was rewarded with my knees piercing my air mattress. The rest of the visit was spent with my back raising hell.

So I coated myself with fly dope at nights and therefore got some needed rest, but felt ill most of the time. Gee… wonder why.

Rain.

Rain.

Rain.

Rain.

Now I understand what my father meant by “cabin fever.”

The almost two weeks left me feeling a little anemic, but I had gotten into a ritual that made every day meaningful. Late afternoons I’d sit in the back of the Starcraft and watch the sunset play with the clouds; leaving gentle shadows on the hills. I practiced my shows in the morning while watching and laughing at mosquitoes busily buzzing around the fence pleading, “Why won’t you let us in?” One of my minor pleasures was hunting the few that were clever enough to find a way. I even began to look forward to the bucket baths. Oh, I could have jumped in the lake if I felt the need to give the blackflies an appetizer, the skeets a buffet and the newly hatched deerflies a tempting dessert. I especially felt no need to become a “confection” while also imitating one of our very, very occasional visitors to Beaver River Station. No, no need to go all chocolate… moose.

Yeah, I went pretty far to pull that joke out of my hat, and apologies to any offended Bullwinkles out there for the mediocre’ pun.

Considering all I have to do to get here and stay here, why the hell do I enjoy this so much?

All the fussing we do, like how everything must be sanitary, or whether toilet paper rolls from the bottom or the top. How would you feel if had to boil lake water, complete with pollen, bits of seeds, bugs and stuff just for drinking water?

Extra roughage and protein!

How would I feel if I had to face my own gripes about such minor inconveniences if I had just escaped from Auschwitz, or had been kept in a prison for many years without being charged? Compared with much of this my own life is sheer luxury in many ways.

On NPR, while leaving Stillwater landing, I listened to a story of a large Cambodian family that escaped the Kmer Rouge. They now live in a very small slum apartment infested by roaches. They think it paradise.

They have kissed the frog; smooched the toad.

All these issues and minutia we fuss about. None of this is as important as we think. They are parables with multiple meanings waiting to be revealed. They are like that upside down, backwards frog or toad that we think may transform into a prince or princess if we kiss it.

Maybe it’s not the toad, maybe it’s not the frog that’s upside down or backwards. Like the many marriages dissolved with the comment, “I thought I could change him,” maybe it’s us that needs changing. Perhaps the toad or frog doesn’t need to become wiser, more beautiful.

We do.

-30-

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

Copyright 2009
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
All Rights Reserved