In fact, I have kissed hundreds of frogs and I would do it again in a hot minute, given another opportunity. A frog by any other name is still a frog, capable of great things, even becoming a prince.
The first frog I kissed was a huge stuffed Panda bear, just the kind you could win in a ring-toss game at the state fair in Albuquerque or other smallish town during the late 50’s. You know the sawdust stuffed animals all young girls coveted.
His big, black and white torso, stumpy arms and legs and huge black bug-eyes occupied my childhood bed each night. I dare say he liked sleeping with me. He certainly did not try to leave, even though I found him more than once on the ground next to the bed.
His name was Mr. Riggs, named after a seventh grade English teacher, not coincidently the one I had a crush on. Mr. Riggs was a flat-topped wearing, six-foot tall, hunk of burning love in my eyes. Oh sure, he was married, even had a daughter named Ruth, but every night he was mine and only mine, reincarnated in my love starved pubescent mind.
Laying in the dark along side this most patient of lovers I learned what to do with the strange-but-delicious feelings occupying certain regions of my body. Though unsure what the feelings were, I sure did discover how to cope. I would tenderly stroke Mr. R’s oversized face, feeling each bristle of his fur.
He never minded me taking control, he lay there motionless as I kissed him on his black plastic nose, my tongue hesitantly touching, exploring and sending silent signals which bounced back, now decoded throughout my body. I would throw a leg over his and in an act of dominance I would take him. Dry humping his leg, though I never heard this term until later, and slipping down my pajama bottoms. This was all about me during those nights. I had no idea what giving back would be until much later, and I would pay dearly for that knowledge.
Here in the quiet of a pink and purple butterfly decorated room, inside of the little Hollywood Convertible grown-up bed, I had my first orgasm, breathless and surprising in its intensity, courtesy of Mr. R. telling me how beautiful I was. Bless him for those words he uttered on the day I wore a purple sweater to class, “You look beee-uuu-tiful in purple.” Never has one compliment spurred so many wonderful nights of loving.
Frogs came and went, all disguised in different costumes, such was the masquerade of a perfectly secret love life. Some were aggressive lovers, others remained passive, but all taught the value of give and take.
Timothy Blue lived next door. He had two older brothers while I had two younger brothers. I remember his dirty-blonde, stick straight hair kept falling into his clear blue eyes. He had no idea of the power his errant hair held over me, or maybe he did.
My dad built my brothers a fort, more of a plywood lean-to up against the side of the house. When they abandoned it I claimed it as my playhouse. I dragged in my Easy Bake Oven, the one that baked a tiny cake with just the heat of a light bulb. A cardboard box became the table, a lonely wilted dandelion as a centerpiece.
One afternoon on the mesa over the back wall separating our tract of homes from the foothills of the Sandia Mountains of Albuquerque, I invited Timmy over to play house with me. We were kicking sand and chasing Horny toads as we called them. The mid-day sun beat down on freckled faces. We both had a jar with blue-tailed lizards. Finally sweaty and thirsty I invited Timmy over, under the guise he could have a glass of milk and some cake; not a silly little girl style tea party, but a manly snack. He said, “Okay, but I have to go tell my mom where I’ll be.”
Meanwhile I ran home to tear open the last envelope of cake mix, stir it up with some water and get the oven on. Sure enough, just as I placed the pancake sized cake in my oven he arrived. We stood there talking and feeling awkward. A neighborhood cat slinked up to Timmy, rubbing around his legs, then curled around mine. Finally we had nothing left to say, the air thick with tension, the smell of white cake suspended lazily between us as we awkwardly leaned in for a kiss.
“HEY! Whatcha doin?” My brother Barry yelled from his bedroom window that was high on the wall behind Timmy. We both looked up to see his silver-toothed grin through the wire screen. Caught. Timmy grabbed a fistful of dirt and threw it at the screen. Barry ducked, laughing.
“Shut up Barry!” I yelled, my embarrassment now deepening the red-faced sunburn peeking through my freckles. The moment now gone, we ate our cake in silence, knowing full well he would shoulder the repercussions once the word got out.
I waited for a kiss with Timmy until one afternoon during a lucky spin of a glass Coke bottle in Stephanie Graham’s garage. It was nothing much actually, furtive, public and not at all smelling of cake and sweat.
I would continue to kiss frogs in search of a Prince who could match up with good old Mr. Riggs. They were right... it would take a lot of frogs to find my Prince.