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It ain't easy bein' green
Back when my kids were younger, they used to love for my wife and me to read the Froggy series of books to them.
For those uninitiated in the finer examples of kiddie lit, Froggy is the title character in an eponymous series of books in which the forgetful protagonist embarks on a series of adventures: Froggy Bakes a Cake; Froggy Learns to Swim; Froggy Tastes Like Chicken, etc.
OK, I made the last one up.
Anyway, as Froggy sets out to go somewhere or do something, he gears up, putting on his swim fins (zut!), zipping up his coat (zip!) or lacing up his sneaks (swish!). Every move is accompanied by a playful sound the under-3 (foot) set just loves. But our hero inevitably forgets something, so his mother sings out, “F-R-O-O-O-G-G-G-G-G-G-Y-Y-Y!!!” and calls him back inside to get his missing gear. Froggy un-zuts! and un-zips! and un-swishes!, gets whatever he had forgotten, puts it on with a sving! or a zoop! and zuts! and zips! and swishes! anew to head back outside, when, of course, his mother realizes her boy has forgotten yet another crucial element to his wardrobe or quest and calls him back with another “F-R-O-O-O-G-G-G-G-G-G-Y-Y-Y!!!” and he heads back in.
Spoiler alert: I hate to ruin it for anyone, so if Froggy’s on your least of must-reads, please don’t continue on in this blog.
Still with me? Good. All the trips in and out wear poor Froggy out, so inevitably the poor lad eventually gets it right or gives up and goes back to bed.
OK, so it’s not “Gatsby,” but what it lacks in keen insight into the human condition, the Froggy series more than makes up in onomatopoeia.
It’s one of those stories where character development and plot aren’t quite enough to carry it, so my wife and I had to earn our out-loud reading chops. The zwuts! and zats! and, especially, the singsong “F-R-O-O-O-G-G-G-G-G-G-Y-Y-Y!!!” forever will be imprinted on the Hartsock clan’s psyche.
I hadn’t thought much about that beloved green-skinned literary giant until a recent bike ride to work.
It was one of those weird Kansas winter days that started out unseasonably warm and headed downhill fast. By the time I was ready to leave for my midafternoon ride to work, it was a few dozen degrees cooler than when I woke up, and I was determined to dress appropriately.
I was about to head out the door when I made a last-second check on weather.com. Learning it was even colder than I thought, I flopped, Froggy-like, upstairs to add another layer under my jeans. I unzipped! and unzutted!, put on a nice, warm wool underlayer up top and longjohns down below, then zipped! and zutted! my original garb back on.
I yanked off my socks — zwot! — and added another pair.
After more searching than I had expected, I pulled on a warm hat — zoop! — and gloves — zwip! — and coat — zwoosh! — clicked into my pedals — click! — and rode off.
Still, I didn’t make the Froggy connection until I had just passed the halfway point of my short commute.
About three miles into a five-mile commute — the point of no return — I noticed I felt colder than I should have. I did a quick equipment check: gloves? Yep. Coat? Check. Coat zipper? Up. Barn door? Closed.
Then I patted my head and was surprised to feel … soft.
Drat! In my haste to get out the door, I had remembered my hat but forgotten my helmet.
And, clear as day in my head, I heard my wife’s voice, “D-R-E-E-E-W-W-W-W-S-S-S-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y! YOU FORGOT YOUR HELMET!”
I felt strangely naked, or at least vulnerable, and, like Froggy, I quickly turned more red in the face than green.
Unlike my amphibious friend, however, I didn’t flop back home and instead pedaled on, cautiously. I’m glad to say I survived with what little gray matter I have intact.
Now I can’t look at a bike without hearing “D-R-E-E-E-W-W-W-W-S-S-S-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y!” in my head.
What’s a frog to do? Snap! Wear your cap!