1. Boy Meets Frog
The first time that I saw the frog, I was sitting in class. Its face was pressed up to the window next to me from the outside. I had been drawing in my notebook, but once I noticed it, I couldn’t stop looking. It couldn’t stop looking at me either (if it had been a staring contest, I would have lost). Maybe frogs blinked, but with its big eyes smushed against the glass, this one didn’t. Stagwood Forest was just beyond the school yard and it was riddled with frogs, but they always avoided people. I knew right away, in a way that I can think better than I can say, that this frog was different.
Miss Weaver hadn’t noticed. She’d been my teacher for a few months, and was known for having a stack of black hair that rose a foot above her head. Before the school year started, I had heard rumors about her, and within a week I realized that they were all true. For one thing, she wore the same outfit every day; the colors changed, but she always had on striped pants and a striped jacket. For another thing, she was mind-numbingly boring. The kind of boring that makes your eyes shut without your permission. Part of the problem was that she liked to tell pointless stories instead of teaching. She was obsessed with telling stories about former students who had become famous. The first couple of times weren’t bad, even kind of interesting, but by the second week of school she had already started repeating herself, just like with her outfits.
I knew all the stories by heart. The professional football player who was good at math, the politician who was a teacher’s pet; I knew every word. Instead of listening, I spent most of class drawing. I drew imaginary places, and designed creatures to fill them. Every drawing had a story. But not that day. I had barely gotten started when the frog appeared, and changed my life forever.
I tried to listen back in to Miss Weaver, just in time to hear the end of her story about Martin Shandals, the now-famous comedian. Martin had transferred schools half way through the year, so I always felt like that one shouldn’t count. We were supposed to be learning long division, but something had reminded her of Martin. I knew exactly what bad joke she would end the story with, and much less about long division.
“Whenever he acted up in class I’d say, ‘we’ve got a real comedian on our hands don’t we?’ And I was right!” she said with a giggle.
I was sure Miss Weaver would see the frog eventually, but she didn’t. Nobody did. When I looked again to see if it was still there, I noticed something shiny. It made me forget all about class, and Miss Weaver and Martin Shandals. There was no denying it: the frog had put on a tiny pair of glasses.
I wanted to lecture it, to explain that frogs don’t wear glasses. It bothered me that it didn’t already know that. On top of that, it had been staring at me for at least five minutes. It seemed like it was bordering on rude. Could a frog even be rude? I wasn’t sure. But, the bigger question was why it was so interested in me.
I wasn't the type of kid who got attention. Teachers always wrote “needs to participate more” on my report cards (with a smiley face to make my parents feel better). I never got into trouble and barely ever stood out on purpose. A few years earlier, I accidentally peed my pants because my zipper had gotten stuck in the bathroom at the last moment. I tried to convince everyone that I had fallen into a puddle at recess. The custodian, Mr. Salazar, charged outside with a mop and brought me to find the puddle. My guess is that we wasted an hour looking around at the gravel. My mom dropped off some new clothes and nobody really noticed my wardrobe change (…or that it hadn’t rained in weeks).
That’s how it was. Whether I did something spectacular or sneezed myself out of a chair, nobody cared, and almost nobody said my name. As far as school was concerned, all those things had happened to “some kid”. So, why would a frog with glasses jump up on a windowsill to stare at "some kid"?
Teachers, on the other hand, were different. Once her story ended, it hadn’t taken Miss Weaver long to realize that I wasn’t paying attention. She called me up to the blackboard to make an example out of me.
“Since you don’t feel the need to listen, why don’t you solve a problem on the board instead?” she said, sitting down at her desk.
My stomach did a flip. The problem would take a minute or two to solve, and being in front of the class always made me nervous. How could I be expected to do anything when there was a spectacled frog staring me down!
I stood to the right of the equation on the board so that I could check on the frog with quick glances. Despite the distraction, I did my best to focus. Halfway through, I saw that the frog had moved towards the front of the classroom. It stopped at the window by Miss Weaver’s desk. It took me a moment to figure out what it was doing. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was trying to lift the window.
Focusing on the problem became almost impossible. I made a mistake and then quickly erased it. The next time I looked over, the window was open. Why should that surprise me? Of course a frog with glasses would also be super strong. The window was only open an inch, but that was enough for it to slip through. I dropped the chalk, and some of my classmates laughed. Bending down to pick it up, I tried convincing myself that when I stood back up again the frog would be gone. “It’s not there, I just think it’s there.”
When I straightened up, the frog was sitting on Miss Weaver’s left shoulder. This was a brave frog. Her head blocked the class from seeing it, and I realized that I was still the only one who could. Either the frog was real or my imagination had outdone itself. It wasn’t all that surprising that Miss Weaver didn’t feel it there, because the shoulder pads inside her jacket were large and fluffy. I had heard that she rested her head on them like pillows during her breaks. So, now there was a frog sitting on Miss Weaver’s shoulder and nobody else knew it. And I was supposed to be doing math.
Now that it was closer, I could see the frog better. It didn’t look like some new species of frog to me. It looked like every other frog I had seen (except for the glasses). I wondered if they made contacts small enough for a frog. But, it wasn’t the right time to worry about frog vision. That’s a job for a frog eye doctor, anyway.
I had daydreams all the time when I was drawing, and sometimes I got lost in them. I tried one last time to explain the frog away, by saying it had to be part of an elaborate daydream. I concentrated hard, finished the problem, and put the chalk down. The frog couldn’t be real. I shook my head confidently.
When I turned to Miss Weaver I saw the frog look me square in the eyes, and nod. A moment later, it disappeared into Miss Weaver’s hair.