The Frog Prince
by Paul W. Marino
Once upon a time, there was a little green frog named Frank, who lived in a little pond in the middle of the Enchanted Forest. He was very happy in that little pond! He had water to swim and bathe in, lily pads to sit upon and all the flies he could eat; not to mention the cute little female frog named Fern who lived in the pond next door! Frank probably would have stayed in that little pond for his entire life, married Fern, raised a family of tadpoles and lived happily ever after, except for a certain construction project that came along. Life is like that sometimes.
One fine morning, Frank was sitting on his favorite lily pad, basking in the sun, when two strange men walked out of the woods. Now, when I say "strange," I don’t mean that they were funny-looking; I simply mean that Frank had never seen them before. Their names were Dim and Dum, and they were both wearing heavy work boots and tan jump suits, and each had a red plastic hard hat on his head. They were studying a huge map.
"Yup," Dim said, pointing at the map. "It comes right trew heah. Right trew dis wattah heah."
"Wetlands!" Dum corrected him. "Wetlands!"
"Oh, yeah......dese wetlands heah."
"Excuse me!" Frank spoke up, and the two men looked at him with disinterest.
"I couldn’t help noticing you were saying something about an it coming through my pond, here!"
"Yeah!" Dum answered. "It’s duh new Innerforest Expressway dey’re buildin’. It’s gonna come right trew heah."
"Interforest Expressway?!" Frank exclaimed. "I’ve never heard of an Interforest Expressway before!"
"Yeah, well," Dim explained. "Dey don’t talk about it much until after it gets built, y’see."
"Cuts way down on the protests," Dum added, and Dim nodded vigorously.
"Yeah! Saves lotsa’ paperwoik!"
"But what about my home? I live in this pond!"
"Well, buddy, youse is just gonna hafta’ move! Youse don’t wanna be livin’ heah when da bulldozers come trew heah!"
"Oh, yeah?" Frank replied angrily. "And what if I refuse to move, huh? What will you do then?!" The two men smiled, but in a nasty way.
"In dat case," Dim sneered. "We brings in da reinforcements!"
"Yeah!" Dum echoed. "Da reinforcements!" Dim put two fingers in his mouth and made a shrill, whistling sound. Frank crossed his little green arms bravely.
Presently, a woman came marching out of the woods. She was wearing a black dress, black stockings, black shoes, a black shawl, and had a tall, black, cone-shaped hat with a wide black brim on her head. Frank stared at her in surprise. Except for the clothes, her height and her long, crooked nose and buck teeth, she reminded him very much of his Great Aunt Felicia! But after a few seconds he realized it was only because her skin was green.
"Yes? What is it?" She demanded. Dim responded by saying,
"Dis fella in da green suit says he lives in dis heah wetlands—which youse will note is right in da path of the planned Innerforest Expressway." The woman looked at Frank, then at the map, and nodded.
"So he says he ain’t movin’." The woman turned to glare at Frank.
"So he’s not moving, is he?" She said in a threatening tone. Dum smirked.
"Youse Knows Who, heah," he said. "Is our Evictin’ Agent!"
"You don’t scare me," Frank said bravely (though he was actually lying). "I know my rights!"
"Good for you!" The woman answered cheerfully. "I know my magic. And if you won’t leave on your own, I’ll just come up with a way to make you leave!"
"What did I ever do to you?" Frank demanded. "Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?" The woman shrugged.
"It’s a living," she sighed. Then she cracked her knuckles and glared again. "Okay, goggle-eyes! Are you moving, or aren’t you?"
"Absolutely not!" Frank replied. "The sanctity of the home is undeniable!" The woman smiled.
"Yeah. It sure is."
She waved her arms in the air.
"Allaka-ZAM!!!" She shouted.
"Yeah!" Dum chuckled. "Allaka-zoom!"
"Shaddup!!!" The woman growled, and Dim smacked the back of Dum’s head. The woman started over, waving her arms dramatically. "Allaka-ZAM!!! Shalla-ma-ZOO!!! I’ve got a gal!!! In Kalama-zoo-zoo-ZOO!!!!!" Frank suddenly felt sick to his stomach! Something was happening inside him that didn’t ordinarily happen inside frogs, and probably doesn’t happen inside anyone! He got up from his lily pad and staggered off into the bushes.......there was a loud *ping!*, and his stomach settled. He felt quite strange......kind of like himself, yet somehow not like himself. He crept out of the bushes and moaned,
"Oooooh! I feel funny!"
"Yeah!" Dim chuckled. "Youse look funny, too!" The woman drew a mirror out of her pocket and handed it to Frank.
"Take a look, bug-breath." Frank looked in the mirror and gasped in horror. The woman—a wicked witch, in case you haven’t guessed it by now—had turned him into a handsome prince!!! Frank gave a low moan and fainted, and Dim and Dum burst into hysterical laughter.
After a minute, the witch told them to get going. She stayed by the pond to wait for Frank to wake up.
"Oh, wow!" He moaned. "What a weird dream!" He looked down at himself and screamed. "AAAA!!!!! It wasn’t a dream!"
"I’m afraid not," The witch agreed. Frank studied his reflection in the water and squirmed.
"Look at that face! What self respecting frog would want a face like that? Pink skin..... rosebud lips.......and those eyes! They’re the most sickening shade of blue I’ve ever seen!"
"Oh, quit whining!" The witch said. "You just don’t have any reason to live in a pond anymore."
"But I love living in a pond! This is awful! I have nothing left to live for!"
"I wouldn’t say that. Just think of how much your diet will improve!"
But Frank wasn’t paying attention. In looking over his clothing—which was the height of human fashion at the time—he discovered he had a sword hanging from his belt. He drew it out of its scabbard and pressed the point against his stomach.
"What are you doing?" The witch asked.
"I’m going to commit hari-kari," Frank answered calmly. The witch rolled her eyes.
"You can’t commit hari-kari!"
"Because you’re not Japanese!" Frank sighed in disappointment.
"Besides," the witch went on, "That’s the wrong kind of sword. You’d probably just take out your appendix, and then where would you be? Look, genius, like it or not, your life has changed. So get over it, and get on with your life." Which is actually pretty good advice, when you think about it.
So Frank got on with his life. He went to the library and read up on how princes behaved and what they did to pass the time and so on. He met many beautiful princesses, who all wanted to marry him because he was so handsome, but something always got in the way. Several princesses refused to marry him when he confessed he wasn’t actually going to inherit a kingdom, since his father had only been a common frog. Other princesses found fault with his personal habits.
"Frank," Princess Petunia scolded him one day. "You’re going to have to break yourself of this habit of bathing in the palace fountain! Mother has already spoken to you about it a dozen times, and she’s starting to get annoyed!"
"But they’re so comfortable!" Frank whined to Princess Patricia.
"I don’t care!" She answered crossly. "Kings are supposed to sit on thrones! And let me tell you something: No husband of mine is going to go around sitting on lily pads!"
"Or Robert?" Argued Princess Payne. "Or Harold? Or Engelbert? I mean, really! What kind of a name is Frank for a king?!!"
But as bad as these incidents were, State Dinners were even worse. State Dinners are just dinners that are served to Royalty; they don’t get served in any particular state. But anyway, Frank was dining with Princess Muffy, the daughter of King Arglebargle of Eastphalia. Actually, he was dining with the whole family, though truth be told, they were the only ones dining. Frank was just picking at his food.
"Mmm!" King Arglebargle said, talking with his mouth full. "This roast beef is good! Just the way I like it!"
"Yes," His gracious Queen Nambypamby agreed. "And these braised parsnips in anchovy gravy are just delicious!"
"Oh, Mummy!" Squealed little Princess Buffy. "These spicy carrots in creamed kumquat sauce are heavenly!"
"What’s the matter, dear?" Queen Nambypamby asked Frank. "Not hungry?"
"It’s not that," Frank said unhappily. "I’m just not used to food like this."
"Oh, pooh!" Princess Muffy complained. "You’re not even trying to like it!"
"But Muffy, it’s like I told you—......"
"Don’t worry, my love," King Arglebargle said. "None of us like every dish. Just wait a while. I understand we’re having curried frog legs for the next course." Frank turned green (and not with envy!)!
"Now my dear boy!" The queen said gently. "I think if you just try the pickled trout in peach consomme, you’ll find it’s absolutely deli—......." But Frank wasn’t paying attention......a fly had just buzzed into the room! Frank watched closely as it flew first one way and then the other, and then some completely different way, and finally as it settled on the table, right in front of him! Quick as a flash, he reached out a hand and smacked it, then popped it into his mouth and began chewing with great relish.
Everyone froze, staring at him. The king and the queen leaned away from him in one direction, and the princesses, Muffy and Buffy, leaned away from him in the other direction.
"Say.........son........" The king said carefully. "Where did you say you were from?"
"Hmm?" Frank asked, still chewing. "Oh! The Enchanted Forest."
"Say, sis," Buffy said. "You don’t think you’re rushing into this marriage business, do you?" Frank was still chewing the fly.
"Now, now, dear," The queen chided gently. "We mustn’t think we’re better than anyone just because they’re different from us."
"Oh, I wouldn’t say we’re better, Mummy........we’re just....... umm........"
"Less different!" Muffy cried, leaning further away from Frank to embrace her sister.
Frank swallowed, belched, and muttered,
"Seems to me he’s a lot different!" The king grunted.
"Please, dear!" The queen begged. "Let’s not spoil a lovely dinner just because........" Just then, another fly buzzed into the room. This time, everyone watched it as it buzzed first this way and then another, and then some completely different way, and then slowly settled onto the table. SMACK! Frank swatted the fly and popped it into his mouth. He was so busy chewing it, he didn’t notice that the king and the queen and the princesses Muffy and Buffy—as well as all the footmen and maids and everybody—all clutched their stomachs and mouths and ran out of the room. It wasn’t until he had swallowed the fly, and was using a fingernail to pick his teeth that he noticed he was all alone in the dining room. He sighed unhappily and guessed—correctly—that the wedding was off.
One day, Frank was walking through the woods when he came upon a strange sight: On the shore of a charming little pond, a princess was running about, grabbing frogs. As soon as she caught one, she would kiss it, then frown angrily, drop that frog and take off after another. Frank was amazed! More than amazed! He was torn between curiosity and horror. Curiosity, because he’d never seen a princess—or anyone else—behave that way before, and horror, because it was plain to him that the frogs were not willing participants! A frog croaked in terror as the princess leaped upon him and raised him to her lips.
"YEEEEEEEEEE-EWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!" Cried the frog.
"RATS!!!" Cried the princess, dropping the frog, who hopped over to a bush and began throwing up. The princess was already chasing another frog, a female this time, who squirmed and wriggled violently until the princess kissed her; then she fainted.
"Umm.......what are you doing?" Frank asked. The princess—aptly named Pehst—looked at him as if she thought he was stupid and said,
"I’m kissing frogs! Duh!"
"Well, yes, I can see that......but, I mean.......why?"
"Look! I’m a princess, right?"
"Uh-huh," Frank nodded. The princess zeroed in on another frog and began stalking him.
"So who do princesses marry?"
"That’s right, genius." The frog edged toward the water and the princess moved to cut him off.
"So........why are you kissing frogs?"
"Because I’m looking for an enchanted prince, that’s why! One of these little warters has got to be a prince!"
"Umm......I’m enchanted." The princess looked at him sidelong.
"Yeah, right! Duh!"
"No, really! I am an enchanted prince!"
"Oh yeah? Well, maybe you are and maybe you aren’t. Alls I know is, you aren’t enchanted enough for me! Come to Mama, you enchanted prince, you!!!" She tackled the frog, dragged it up to her mouth and kissed him passionately, full on the lips.
"GLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!" The frog gasped.
"Gosh darn it!!!’ The princess yelled, picking herself up out of the mud. "I’m going home!!!" And she stomped off into the woods.
Frank sat down next to the frog that had thrown up and whimpered,
"Sheesh! How enchanted does a guy have to be?"
"You must be enchanted!" The frog said. "I’ve never met a human being who could speak Frog before. Hey, fellas! This prince speaks Frog!"
"No kidding?" Another frog, named Phil, said. "Say something!"
"Like what?" Frank asked. Phil shook his head in disbelief.
"Wow! Without an accent, even!"
"Where did you learn to speak Frog?" One of the girl frogs asked. Her name was Frieda.
"I’ve been speaking it all my life."
"Oh, come now!" Another one, named Fannie, said, shaking a finger at him. "Why would a prince speak Frog?"
"I wasn’t always a prince! I was born a frog."
Fannie shook her head disapprovingly.
"You shouldn’t lie, young man! It’s unbecoming, especially among royalty."
"No, really!" Frank protested. "I used to live in a pool a couple miles south of here."
"So.......what happened?" Phil asked.
"Well, one day a witch came along and cast an evil, wicked, mean—and very naughty—spell over me."
"She......she didn’t!!!" A frog named Francine gasped. Frank nodded sadly.
"She did. She turned me into a handsome prince." The frogs all cried out in horror!
"Oh! You poor, poor boy!!!" Frieda wept.
"Yeesh!" A frog named Philo said. "If I got turned into a handsome prince I’d kill myself!"
"Yeah," Frank nodded. "I tried that, but the witch talked me out of it. Something about how I didn’t know enough about medicine." The frogs all nodded glumly.
"So.......what’s it like being human?" A frog named Fritz asked.
"You mean apart from being horribly ugly and cut off from your own kind and forced to live among strangers?" Francis nodded.
"Oh, it’s not so bad.......the worst thing is how hungry you get. Flies just don’t fill me up the way they used to! If it wasn’t for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I’d have starved to death a long time ago."
"Isn’t there anything that can be done for you?" Frieda asked tearfully.
"Nothing comes to mind," Frank sighed. "But thanks very much for this chat. It really means a lot to be able to talk with one’s own kind."
"Hey!" Phil said. "It’s the least we can do, right?"
"Hey, wait a minute!" Frank gasped as a sudden thought came to him. "That princess that was here a minute ago!"
"Oh, don’t remind me!" Fannie grimaced. "I can still taste that awful perfume she had on........Eau du Swampe! Disgusting!!!"
"She was kissing frogs," Frank went on. "Because she thought one of you would turn out to be an enchanted prince!"
"So?" Philo answered. "We’re not enchanted! The only enchanted prince around here is you!"
"Yes, but......she thought that kissing a prince that was turned into a frog would turn him back into a prince."
"So?" Francis asked.
"Well......if she’s right, then.......that may be the way to break my enchantment!"
"Well, no problem, then!" A frog named Franz exclaimed. "You get her to kiss you and you’re home free!"
"No, no! I’m a frog that’s been turned into a prince, not a prince that’s been turned into a frog! The way to break my enchantment would be to get kissed by a........by a....... a...........frog." The frogs all cried out in horror, and Fannie fainted and fell back in the mud with a little splat!
A frog named Felicia sputtered in outrage.
"Surely you’re not suggesting that one of us kiss you?!!! I have every sympathy for you, young man, but the thought of putting my lips to such an ugly, hideously rosy mouth as yours!!! Well!!!!!!"
"I understand, Ma-am. I don’t even like to ask."
"You were properly brought up, anyhow," a frog named Philomena said. "But I think it best if you were on your way." Frank nodded unhappily.
"Let us know where you end up," Franz said. "We’ll send you a box of chocolate covered flies or something."
"Wait a minute!" Frieda cried. "We can’t just turn him away like that, can we?"
"Well, we promised him a box of chocolate covered flies!" Fritz answered. "What more can he want?"
"To be a frog again!"
"Weren’t you listening, Frieda?" Fanny asked. "One of us would have to........kiss him!"
"Well," Frieda declared. "Then one of us will just have to.....kiss him. And if no one else is willing, then..........I’ll do it!" She looked at Frank and involuntarily crossed her eyes and stuck her tongue out. Then she looked away, recovered and said, "Yes. I’ll do it." But she didn’t sound so enthusiastic this time.
She marched over to Frank and looked up at him.
"You know, you’re really ugly up close!"
"Yeah, I know." Frank replied. "They don’t call it a curse for laughs."
"But that’s not your fault! It’s the fault of that......that......."
"Witch," Frank said, which was very patient of him, considering how much Frieda was stalling for time.
"That’s right! It’s all her fault." Suddenly Frieda whispered, "What do you say to a box of chocolate covered flies and we forget the whole thing, huh? NO!!!!!!" She shouted. "No, no, no, no, no! I said I’m gonna do it, and I’m gonna do it!!!!" She took another look at Frank and whimpered as her stomach turned hand springs. "Just not right now! Maybe later......in a year or so......."
"Maybe if you closed your eyes," Franz suggested.
"And go behind a tree," Francine added.
Frieda sighed unhappily, took Frank by the hand and led him behind a big oak tree. Then she screwed her eyes shut, puckered up, stuck her lips way out....................annnnnnnnnnd........ There was a loud *ping!*. Frieda opened her eyes and gasped out loud. She took a few steps back and looked again.
"Gee whillikers!" She cried. "Holy fertilizer! He’s gorgeous!!!!" It was true! When Frank stepped out from behind the tree, he was the handsomest frog anyone had ever seen, with huge, goggly yellow eyes, a wide mouth and proper green skin! The girl frogs all swooned and the boy frogs all stared with their mouths hanging open.
"Does this mean it worked?" Frank asked.
"Boy! I’ll say it did!" Fred gasped. Frank was so thrilled that he said,
"Frieda! Will you marry me and be the mother of my tadpoles?" And Frieda fell into his arms, crying,
"Oh, yes! Yes! Yes!!! I will marry you!!!!" And they began kissing and carrying on in an awfully sappy and embarrassing manner, both talking about living happily ever after and so on, until the other frogs managed to pull them apart and made them stay that way until they summoned a Minister.
And so it was that Frank and Frieda were married, and raised a family of fifty thousand tadpoles. And they all lived happily ever after. At least until the forest was surveyed to make way for shopping mall.