This here is a little gift I wrote for a dear friend for her birthday. It’s fun so I thought I would post here, on my often ignored blog. Poor thing. Its so skinny and malnourished.
Almost like an arrow-head, but with soft points and a blunt edge. Paper folded easily into a neat shape. A whole composed out of triangles and angles, the thing had four little legs on its obvious underside.
It hopped too.
I was in grade eight when I folded my first origami frog, and I was intensely proud. I had learned it from a substitute teacher names Mr. Hancock. He was young, likely just out of an education program at Memorial and looking to pad a resume so he could get a job closer to the hubs of civilization, like St. John’s or even Gander. But to me, with his frosted tips and hemp/shell bracelet, he was cool as hell. He played Collective Soul on guitar and said bad words when he knew no “real” teachers were around.
I learned from him how to fold frogs.
I kept the first one that I made for a year. It was a totem of sorts. The loose leaf it was made of had taken on a downy softness, smooth and dulcet, like a sheep’s ear. I would stroke the thing when I was worried. Absently, I would often touch some corner of it to my tongue, softening it even more. You could flick your finger over the back end of it and it would hop, in a way. I was known to carry the frog in my binder, a Five Star, three ring affair with four subject dividers. An excellent binder, of this there was no doubt. An excellent frog-home, as well.
In grade nine, a girl jokingly said that she wanted the frog. I remember it vividly. We were waiting between periods, math and English. Curiously enough, that is where the frog lived in the divided binder. She said that she thought the frog was adorable, cute. My stomach was filled with butterflies. And each butterfly was covered in ants. I tossed on a casual air and croaked in a pubescent screech, “Sure, it’ll always remind you of me.”
She put it in her pencil case and I didn’t see it for sometime.
The girl and I discovered each other as children our age do. Throughout high school we dated on and off again. There were the usual fights and tears. Nights where my teenaged self would stare at the ceiling and think this is what love is, man. So many hours spent on the phone that my ear would get hot. We would date other people when things went in the rough, but sidelong glances were always cast at the other, just to make sure they were watching. We weren’t the best couple, but we were better than the other ones we tried out in that time.
In L’anse au Loup, we didn’t have a prom exactly. It was a graduation ceremony that occurred just before finals. Being so far from everything, there were no limos or such embellishments. But for all intents and purposes, it was a prom. There were dates and tuxedos and gowns and a gymnasium covered in foil and balloons. A teenaged fairytale. It rained a little on the day, but only in the morning.
Predictably, I asked the girl to be my date and predictably she said yes. We had settled into a comfortable routine and we saw no need to change it.
After the pomp and ill-worded speeches and during the dance with the dates, she produced the frog. From where, I cannot tell you, even now. She gave it back to me, it was worn more than I remembered, but it was certainly the same she had asked for. She said that things were going to change. Everyone was going to move for school or work. We were different people than when she had asked for that folded piece of something, my attempt to capture something more mature. I knew she was correct.
I told her to keep that little frog. I don’t know if she did.
I’ve moved on. I am well past that little frog and that decorated gym. Even that first blush of intimacy is behind me. But I do sometimes sit and reflect.
And do you know something, dear reader? That girl grew up to be Richard Nixon.