Once upon a time there was a lovely maiden who lived….
I am not a maiden.
I am not a maiden. A maiden is a virginal unmarried girl, and while I have no desire to share the more intimate features of my life with you, I can say without equivocation that although I am not married, I am most definitely not a maiden.
Oh. Okay. Well then, once upon a time, there was a lovely damsel who lived…
Again with the virgins! What is up with you? I’m not a damsel either. A damsel is the same thing as a maiden. For pity’s sake! Can’t you get it right? I’m not terribly unhappy that you are calling me lovely. That’s actually quite nice. But the maidens and the damsels and all that. It doesn’t really detract from the story to know I’ve been living my life and have met a few fellows on the way, now does it?
Oh I suppose not. May I continue with my story now?
Okay. Sure. Go ahead. Thanks.
Once upon a time, there was a lovely broad who lived…
What?!?!?!? Broad? Are you joking?
Yes, actually I am. I just wanted to see if you were listening.
I am listening! Do you think I would have stopped you twice already if I was not paying attention? What would give you such an idea? Sheesh!
I don’t know. I’ll continue. Once upon a time there was a lovely lady who lived in a land where the males were frogs. These frogs weren’t the sort you could kiss and they would turn into princes either, they were actual frogs.
Okay. You have to be kidding. Why would I want to live with a bunch of frogs if none of them could turn into princes? What is that all about? I mean, a girl has some taste, you know.
Well the moral was going to be about falling in love for all the right reasons, like integrity, honesty, personality, etcetera, regardless of what the fellow looked like.
That’s all fine and good, but what is supposed to get me in the door? If the guy is froggy, how am I supposed to be attracted to him to discover all these magnificent inner qualities? What about biology? There has to be some reason we developed beauty to ensure the procreation of the species.
This may be true. However, could you allow that if all the men looked like frogs than that is what the women would know and they would find certain of the frogs attractive?
Hmmm. That’s an interesting proposition. Why don’t you continue with your story and I’ll think on it a bit.
That would be good, thanks. Most kind of you. I would like to get past the second or third line, if that is possible.
A bit. I continue. So the lady lived in a land where the men appeared as frogs. She had met a few of them and had relationships. But none of the relationships ever seemed to work out. As a younger woman, the most common reason for the failure of her relationships was that the frogs were mostly interested in jumping in the sack. I’m not talking about sex here, but an actual game where the frogs jumped around in sacks.
Okay. That’s dumb.
But it’s stupid. The frogs wanted to jump in the sack and this was an actual game the frogs played? Come on! At least make the thing somewhat plausible. You’ve already got all these guys looking like frogs, which requires we suspend some belief as it is. Now you want us to buy into your pathetic attempt at a pun?
Fine. So the real reason most of her relatonships failed was the frogs wanted to have sex with her because she was gorgeous. There. Does that make you feel better?
Well at least it is more realistic, at least the part about the frogs wanting to have sex.
Is it, now? At least it shows you were right about the whole maiden/damsel thing.
Of course I was. Wait. Are you making me sound like some kind of sex maniac or something because I had sex with frogs who didn’t want anything more than a piece of ass?
That wasn’t my intention.
Well it came off that way.
May I continue?
So as I said, by NO FAULT of the lady, most of the wretched frogs she met in her twenties were only after a roll in the hay and were not interested in a serious relationship based on honesty and communication.
There’s another reason I couldn’t have been a maiden/damsel.
You’re interrupting again. But what are you talking about?
You implied in that last bit that I’m no longer in my twenties. This would mean I’m in my thirties, or yikes! even my forties, God forbid. I would not think a maiden/damsel would be in her thirties or forties.
You’re probably right. The maiden/damsel would be sixteen. There. Are you happy now? Can we please continue? Okay, good. By the time our heroine had passed her twenties, she had been in a few longer-term relationships, but as was previously implied, the frogs involved were not particularly interested in much more than getting laid and watching sports on television. Oh, she’d gone out with a frog in a band and he didn’t watch much television between their acts of wanton lust, but instead spent his time playing gigs with the band and fending off groupies.
You know about him? Yeah, he was hot. Frogs in bands are trouble, let me just tell you that. Okay. Stop rolling your eyes. Go on.
Time rolled on and as she entered her thirties, the relationship failure rate seemed to increase, but for different reasons. The frogs she was meeting had figured out that ladies wanted frogs who were interested in more than sex, so they had learned to play the game of the interested pursuer. They could have long conversations. They could discuss politics and rhetoric, and were quite able to expound on the necessities and drawbacks of the women’s movement. They knew how to give excellent massages, and were quite adept at assuring women that they were interested in something far more meaningful than simple sex could ever provide.
Man, isn’t that the truth.
That’s the truth. I’m telling you, I run through the list of guys I’ve been with in the last few years and all of them are fairly remarkable when it comes to talking the talk. They rope you in, slowly and carefully. It’s like they can wait for the big payoff. They don’t jump in, slam, bam, thank you ma’am. They build to a crescendo, that crescendo being them getting laid if they can pull it off.
I know it’s the truth. I’m telling the story, remember?
Oh right. Sorry again.
Thank you. As I was saying, our heroine kept meeting frogs who seemed to be interested in a real relationship based on mutual trust, communication, and all that. Unfortunately, each time things became serious, the frogs would hop off into the ponds and hide under their lily pads, never to be heard from again. This always caught the lady by surprise. One day the frog would be discussing a shared future of dreams and aspirations, the next day he would be gone.
The first few times this happened, the lady was extremely distressed. What in the world is going on here? Where did he go? What happened? She would discuss the disappearances ad nausem with her friends. None of them could figure it out. It just seemed to make no sense. Why would the frogs act like they wanted a long-term relationship then disappear as soon as it seemed likely? Over time, the lady came to expect the disappearances. She was slower to show interest, waiting to see if the frog would hop away at the first sign of real intimacy. She stopped having sex with the frogs unless sex was all she wanted. She…
Oh good. I didn’t want it to sound like I was always so serious. Okay, okay! Put down your eyebrows. I’m listening.
Right. Carrying on then. Our heroine began paying attention and recognized the signs sooner. The runaway frogs were consistent in their reasons for relationships failing. Most of them were unwilling to acknowledge their own shortcomings, but could gloss this over in such a way that at first it appeared they were quite introspective and self-deprecating. They could discuss in great depth their concerns for a previous lover’s issues concerning self-esteem or family dysfunction. They were able to articulate in some detail the meaning behind an ex-girlfriend’s struggles with her weight or body image.
Unfortunately, when the same magnifying glass was turned towards them, the frogs were unable or unwilling to see or discuss their own need for growth. If our heroine observed that perhaps they might deflect any questions on their own development with humor or pointed out during a disagreement that the frog had an amazing ability to find fault with others without acknowledging any responsibility of his own, the frog ran off and jumped in a pond without so much as a backward glance.
She began to realize that the frogs also had a way of projecting their own fears onto her. If they were terrified of expressing anger, for instance, they would claim she was too angry as they peeked out from beneath their lily pads. “Why did you cuss at that driver? How dare you glare at the rude clerk? What is the matter with you, lady? You must have an anger problem!” If they were terrified of expressing affection, they would claim she was too willing to affect in public. “Why would you kiss me here?” the frog would ask. “Are you trying to make people think you want me to be a prince?” Such statements dumbfounded the lady. What in the world were these frogs thinking?
My, that is distressing.
What is distressing?
These frogs you are talking about. They are all so, I don’t know, pitiful somehow. And you haven’t mentioned all the work I’ve done on myself to become a better and stronger person. Don’t you think our readers would like to hear about that?
I’m sure they would, but I thought such things were implicit. Would it make you happier if I mentioned that after each failed attempt you would do a self-analysis to figure out what you learned and how to do things differently next time?
Yes, that would be good. And mention I spent some time with a therapist. Let them know I’m not trying to make this all the frogs’ fault. That would not be the honest thing to do.
Okay. Our heroine went to a therapist and ascertained she was not suffering from any major mental illness. There. Does that make you feel better?
Not exactly, but go on. I want to hear what happens.
Finally, after one particularly heart-wrenching breakup, our heroine decided that it was perhaps best to swear off frogs for a while. Maybe I could take up dressmaking, she thought. Or drums. That’s it. I’ll take up drums. She began banging on the drums at all hours of the day and night. This did not please her neighbors, so she took up rock collecting and underwater floral arranging instead. These were peaceful activities and kept her mind somewhat occupied. However, with time, our heroine grew increasingly bored. Her extra room was filled with rocks of all sorts and her fingers had become rather wrinkly from all the underwater floral arranging she had done.
Now what? I was on a roll.
Can I ask you something? How come you keep calling me “our heroine.” How come you don’t give me a name?
Because I was trying to keep everyone from developing a preconceived notion of who you are.
I’m me. Why would anyone preconceive about that?
Well the readers don’t know you yet. To them you are just our heroine. Give them a name and they will associate you with every Cinderella or Jennifer they know.
I just thought I should have a name, that’s all.
Being nominally anonymous allows the readers to apply your lessons to all women. Wouldn’t you like that? Plus heroines have a particular aura to them, wouldn’t you agree? There is an implicit beauty in their being a heroine.
That’s a nice thought. I wouldn’t mind being beautiful.
You are beautiful dear, on the inside and the out.
You are so kind.
Thank you. May I continue?
One night the lady and a friend went out to view art. They found a place where painters and sculpters and various artists of all sorts had gathered together and were displaying various pieces of their work. As she meandered from one piece of art to another, she noticed a particularly hunky frog following her. She pointed him out to her friend. Do you see him? she asked? Doesn’t it look like he’s following me? Her friend allowed that it did indeed appear as if he were following her. To test her hypothesis, our heroine veered off to view a particularly large, phallic sculpture. She stared at it with consternation. What in the world, she wondered, would inspire someone to carve a giant penis? Wishful thinking?
“It’s hopeful, isn’t it?” a voice next to her asked. She glanced over and noticed the hunky following frog. He had marvelous, bulgy blue eyes and hair that begged for fingers to comb through its soft tendrils. She was amazed a frog could have such fantastic hair. He also had several very attractive red spots on his shoulders.
Yes, she answered, I suppose it has a bit of hope about it. Real dreaming. Sometimes you have to wonder. She noticed that his hands were large, his fingernails trimmed and clean, his skin a warm green.
“Hopeful and silly. I wonder why this kind of thing is still given credence, like it has something unique to say. Like we haven’t all seen such ambitious desperate attempts in the past, even at some high school art show. If I make a sculpture of a giant penis, I will be daring.” He looked directly at her as he spoke, his attention completely engaged. It was hypnotizing.
Yes, pushing the boundaries.
“Unique like everyone else making giant penises.”
Their banter went on for some time. Our heroine discovered that her friend had met an acquaintance and the two were chatting amiably. Following frog continued to follow her, all the while making witty observations about different pieces of art. He took…
So what, is this where she meets someone and falls in love? Because it looks like that is where your heading, and since I’m not in love and haven’t fallen in love, I’m kind of confused. I mean, I know who you are talking about, but it didn’t go anywhere you know.
Are you planning to allow me to finish the story? I know what happens. You know what happens. But no one else does.
Okay, fine. If you want to go through the whole thing, go ahead. Tell them how he came over to my house. Tell them how we had a grand time goofing off but did nothing more than kiss for a while. Then tell them how he didn’t call for several days and didn’t pursue me any further. Then perhaps you can explain why he is any different than any of the others and why we should be spending this much time on him.
Well he was different from the others. When you decided to let him know you were genuinely interested, he responded, didn’t he? And when you finally starting hanging out, the two of you didn’t have any long drawn out conversations about your relationship. You didn’t discuss your future with him. You also had sex with him pretty quickly. And that sex, oooh boy! Twice, sometimes three times a day. It was truly remarkable, his capacity and stamina. Do you forget that you had some difficulty walking normally on certain occasions?
Oh, I know. I remember. Yes, that part was different. But the end result wasn’t. He didn’t fall madly in love with me. I probably could have fallen in love with him, but he wouldn’t have given me a chance to do that. He wanted to have fun. He wanted to have sex. I knew this going in. To expect any more or want any more would have been foolish. And there were his problems with self confidence, and his periodic silent treatments. I guess I just don’t understand why he’s getting more detail than the others.
Because, dear, he is interesting. He is quite funny and absolutely brilliant.
Well, artists often are. And he’s definitely an artist. He’s actually making a living at it, and you can’t say that of many artists.
And he didn’t run and hide under his lily pad. He was fun. I just thought perhaps people would like to hear about your watching movies together, laughing like fiends, going on bizarre roadtrips, and boinking like rabbits. All the other frogs were so, I don’t know, serious. They were much too boring.
I know, I know. Unfortunately, I’m still too cynical about the whole thing. He still opted to go his own way and leave me to mine. And although we didn’t have the little “talk,” I know he was terrified to death of our relationship turning into anything more serious. If you want to know the truth, frankly I’m sick of frogs.
Yes, I know. Perhaps it would be better to tell a different story, the one where you travel the world and have many adventures.
I would like that.
Okay, that is what we’ll do. For now, we’ll leave off frogs. I can see your point. They are a bit pathetic, aren’t they? We’ll focus on your traveling adventures. Maybe you can meet some other species besides frogs, some species that might actually turn into a prince.
I won’t hold my breath.
So our heroine traveled the world and met many fascinating people and adventures and lived happily ever after. The End.
That was great.
You liked it?
I did. Thanks a bunch. You painted me in a positive light, I think.
I hope so. I aim to please. Good luck to you.
Thanks, you too.
(This is a piece of fiction. Any resemblance to any human or frog, living or not, is perhaps likely considering the author’s brain is composed of actual experiences. However, this is a non-fiction story. This story is not intended to be seen as a replica of the author’s life.)