I don’t know if it’s the closeness of the Arkansas River or a perfect mix of vegetation, but for some reason frogs always gathered in my parents’ driveway. Every evening, about the time the floodlight kicked on, we’d hear them by the garage. Big ones with bellies that barely cleared the grass when they hopped. Tiny ones that jumped from rock to rock on the gravel.
So, it was no surprise that the night my boyfriend came to meet my parents a few frogs were there to greet us. Even though we were both in our 20s, he was nervous – that is until he saw the frogs. “Can I catch one?” he asked, smiling like he was 8. “Sure,” I said, “But watch out. They’ll pee on you.”
I don’t think I had finished the sentence before he started chasing the frog that looked like the teenager of the family. Charlie would take a step toward it and the frog would jump out of his way. “You’ve got to get beside it so you can put a hand in front,” I advised.
A few seconds later, Charlie had his frog. He gingerly held it in his hands and then cradled it to his chest so he could get a better look at it. And that’s when it happened. Pee soaked his hands and the front of his meet-the-father shirt.
We had no choice but to go inside. When my dad rose to greet him, he offered his hand to Charlie, who apologized and said he’d need to wash up first. When he returned from the restroom, he sat in my parents’ living room and laughed and talked like nothing had happened.
For reasons that had nothing to do with frogs, our relationship didn’t last long. Still, I’ve come to respect how he handled the situation. Too often I try to be perfect and poised. I beat myself up for not keeping my New Year’s resolutions, for the stack of laundry in the basement and for hundreds of other ways I don’t have my life together.
Maybe it’s time I, too, said a quick apology, washed my hands and moved on. Maybe it’s time I accepted a little grace. And I could just throw that dirty shirt in with the rest.