Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Purple Frog

First told 3/5/05

There once was a purple frog. There are such things as other purple frogs, but he was the only purple frog in his town. The green frogs made fun of him and otherwise ignored him.

He also had a burgeoning gambling addiction. Every weekend he would go to the local froggy casino and spend his paycheck, distracting himself from his purple otherness.

One weekend at the casino, after losing a day’s pay at the blackjack table and not doing much better at roulette, he approached the poker table. The dealer, a cute chameleon, was having trouble dealing the cards because her hands were sticky, as all chameleons’ are (that's what makes them such great climbers).

He won the first hand and felt bad for her dealing troubles. She saw that he was empathic and decided she liked him.

“So how did you get purple?” she asked spunkily.
“That’s a personal question; I never tell on the first meeting.”
She turned purple and said, “So we’ll have to have another.”
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“I said, “Really?’”
“Oh, I thought you said ‘Ribbit!’”

He went home excited, even though he usually would stay gambling into the night. He couldn’t sleep, he was so excited. He hadn’t seen her at the casino before and realized that he didn’t know her name or number, and they hadn’t set up a time or place to meet. He started worrying about how he would meet her again. Now, he was a worrier, but not a pessimist, so he thought things would just work out.

On Monday, he put on his froggy overalls and froggy hardhat and went to the construction site, where he worked helping put up a hi-rise office building. His construction buddies weren’t real friends, but they didn’t make fun of him. They saw how excited he was and asked what was up. Over a lunch of grilled cheese and flies, he told them what had happened, but they didn’t believe him.

Meanwhile, the chameleon was called into the manager’s office.
“Lindsay, we love you, you’ve got great energy and a great work ethic, but you’re obviously having some difficulties as a card dealer and your sticky hands didn’t help you much at the craps or roulette tables.”
“Mr. Toad, I love working here, I love the people and dealing with all the customers. Is there some way I could stay on?”
“Well, I have an idea. The main gambling hall has a high ceiling and whenever a light bulb burns out, we have to bring in a huge ladder to change it.”
“I know, people always get distracted and stop gambling.”
“Right, Lindsay, and when people stop gambling...”
“We lose money.”
“Exactly, so here’s my idea--can you climb?”
“Sure, Mr. Toad, I’m a chameleon!”
“So instead of bringing the big ladder onto the floor and disrupting the customers, you can go up and change the bulbs.”
“Well, that’s great Mr. Toad, but that doesn’t happen too often. You would pay me just for that?”
“Lindsay, that’s only half my idea. I know how great you are with the customers and how much you enjoy dealing with them. I’m going to keep you on the floor as a cocktail waitress. With your tacky hands, you’ll never drop a tray of drinks. What do you think?”

On Wednesday night, already early in the week, the purple frog went back to the casino to look for her. He went straight to the poker table, but she wasn’t there. He raced all around the casino looking for her but he didn’t recognize her because she was wearing her cocktail waitress uniform and her skin matched the plaid skirt. There were other chameleons working there too, so he couldn’t exactly ask after her in particular.

He left, dejected, and stopped at the ice cream parlor to temper his panic with a root beer float with flies on top. He’d never been able to afford such luxuries before because he always gambled his money away. At work his buddies asked him how things were going with his chick. “She’s not a chick, she’s a woman!”

On the weekend, he went back to the casino, hoping to see her, and for once pessimistic. He meandered around, not gambling, just searching for her. No luck. He went to the bar to drown his sorrows in a root beer float. The bartender saw how downtrodden he was and asked him what was going on.
“I can’t find this woman who actually seems to like me for who I am.”
“That’s tough buddy. How about I toss some sugared flies on top of your float, gratis?”
“Yeah, sure, whatever…”

Lindsay, still plaid, came up to the bar.
“Hey, Max, we need a Shirley Temple; a Reptile with Diet Dew; an Islay, neat; and a Red Frog."
Just then, she noticed the purple frog staring into his drink.
“Speak of the devil! So are you going tell me how you turned purple?”
“That’s a personal question; I never tell on the first- HEY! Hi!”
“It’s good to see you around here again. I can’t talk now, I have to finish serving these drinks, but I finish my shift in three hours, maybe we can go get some coffee and cricket biscotti.”
The purple frog, easily excitable but usually clearheaded, said “That’s great, but I don’t want to risk losing you again. Would you mind writing down your name and number?”
She laughed and wrote down her information on a napkin.

Over coffee our fuchsia frog told her how he turned purple. His mother had been swimming around her little pond, doing her pregnant froggy water yoga. An inordinately lost octopus, in its stress and confusion, let loose a cloud of ink just as the mother was laying her eggs. Octopus ink isn’t very good for froggy eggs and she lost most of them. Instead of thousands, only a few hundred survived, including our purple protagonist, all indelibly violet-hued.

All the purple brothers and sisters went there separate ways, the purple population explosion having disrupted the sensitive politics of the little pond. Every ten years, they had a reunion. At the next one, our froggy brought his chameleon bride.

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