Ice-cold watermelon, front porch swings, barefootin,’ and catching lightning bugs in a jar. Ah, the “frog days” of summer. Frog days? Did I say frog days? You bet I did!
Frog giggin.’ You’re either for it or against it. Growing up in the South most folks have at least one amphibian encounter under their belt. I’d never given the subject much thought till I found myself staring down the wrong end of a gig in a frilly sun dress and six-inch heels. That being said I suppose you’d have to say—“I’m against.”
Back in the day Harold was my high school’s answer to Brad Pitt. Gorgeous and athletic, his only problem was that he also considered “dating” a sport. He went through women as quickly as his old jalopy burned Quaker State motor oil. When I managed to corral him, I wasn’t sure if it was me he was interested in or the bag of Krystal burgers I was hanging out the window of the car. But for the first time in my life, I was the envy of every girl in the sophomore class– a position that I intended to hang onto.
The eyesore pick-up was a dead ringer for the truck on TVs, Sanford and Son. A classic he insisted. A collector’s item. Even after I became his “honey” and had to ride in said collectible I didn’t buy it.
One day he called, announcing that he was taking me “someplace special.”
“I’ve never taken any other girl here before,” he said, while I dreamily fantasized picking out my china pattern for my hope chest.
In my young, naïve head, I’d hit the jackpot. In hindsight, the fussy sundress with the matching heels that cost me four months babysitting wages might have been a bit much for the occasion, a point that became more evident when Harold arrived in dirty jeans and an old football jersey.
“Ready?” he asked as we headed out the door.
“Sure,” I gushed, a bit puzzled at his appearance as I hopped in and snuggled close as we chugged out the driveway, his oil-slick calling card already trickling down towards Mama’s rose bush.
“So, where are we going?” I asked excitedly, barely able to contain myself.
“Alabama,” he replied mysteriously, giving me a wink.
Alabama? Oh Lord. Not the Catfish Cabin! The place was so casual the help didn’t even wear shoes. Harold assured me we were going somewhere better than that. I discovered there’re varying degrees of “better.” He turned off the main highway and down a dirt lane.
“Here we are,” he announced as if we were gazing at the azure waters of the Caribbean.
“But where are we?” I asked, staring blankly at the swamp.
“The Back Waters,” he said.
Oh, my stars! I’d heard the stories of the “Back Waters” all my life. A place like no other that reeked of fish—dead fish. Snake infested too. Daddy once told of a huge water moccasin that ate a twelve-foot-long bass boat while the motor was still trolling. To compliment this visual was the deafening croaking of what sounded like enormous killer frogs. Hundreds maybe. Did I mention I hate frogs?
I nearly demanded to be taken home on the spot until he placed his highly coveted letterman’s jacket around my shoulders. Giddy, I momentarily dismissed my surroundings pretending it was an outdoor man’s make-out paradise. That was until he dropped the “F” bomb. As in frog.
“Sure is a beautiful night for frog giggin’,” he said, as he grabbed two small pitchforks from the gun rack.
Did he say frog giggin? This was his special place that only I had been worthy. A disgusting lake full of frogs that I was supposed to… gig? When he proudly produced a cooler, a large spotlight, a sack-ful of Krystal burgers, and two cans of bug spray my heart sank. His and hers. He’d thought of everything. I imagined the girls in by the phone waiting to hear about my big night of amour. Either things were going to have to get better, or I was going have to lie through my teeth. My nose was growing already.
He stayed close to the bank weaving in and out of the cattails like a gator on the prowl as he tried to find his “special” gigging spot. Good for him. It was for damn sure he’d never find min!. Straddling the cooler, a gig in one hand and lantern in the other I was having an impossible time convincing myself that this evening was going to be in any way romantic.
“Look for their eyes,” he commanded excitedly, as I held the lantern like Washington crossing the Delaware.
It wasn’t long before millions of mosquitoes became aware of the fancy “Enticement” perfume Mama’d bought in Paris. I resembled a flight attendant gone berserk slapping and swatting in every direction creating enough wind to part his hair. Good ‘ol Harold gallantly remedied the situation in one swift blast of ‘Eau de Off’– covering me from head to toe in a cloud of noxious bug spray.
“You should never wear that stuff to the Back Waters. You’ll attract every bug in the state of Alabama,” he laughed as I sat deflated and saturated.
Apparently bugs were the only thing I was capable of attracting.
“Hold your gig and jab at ‘um just behind the head,” he demonstrated with the expertise of an Olympian javelin thrower. “Just don’t hurt their legs,” he instructed, oblivious to my miserable plight. “Mama hates it when the legs get mangled up. They don’t fry up as nice she says.”
Was he kidding? I had no intention of jabbing any part of any frog with that gig. It took all I had to keep from taking a jab at Harold. Wonder if anyone would ever believe that I had mistaken him for a big ole croaker? Didn’t know if it would hold up in court. Jail time for human giggin’ might be stiff, but then it might be worth it, too.
“I think I’ve had enough fun for one night.” I said sarcastically, teetering my way to the bug spray arsenal near the bow.
I suppose it was inevitable that I would suddenly lose my footing in those six-inch stilettos and go tumbling into the smelly water, landing knee-deep in the vile cold muck.
“You okay?” he yelled, as I stumbled ashore, sputtering obscenities.
“Okay? Okay! Look at me! My dress is ruined! My hair is ruined and my new shoes nowhere to be seen! Take me home this instant!” I ranted. “I’m done!”
“Just as soon as I get o-n-e last frog,” he said oblivious, still a man “on the hunt”.
And that’s when Harold officially went from stud to dud.
“You’ll do better next time,” he assure,d as I crawled into his jalopy, rolling my eyes in disbelief to the back of my head, resembling my fellow croakers in the cooler.
From inside the truck Mac Davis was singing his hit tune 80’s tune on the radio, “Baby, Don’t Get Hooked on Me.” As if I needed a sign. Not only had I gigged my last frog, I’d kissed him too.
Until next time.
When all else fails…just add humor. The Possum Queen.