TO GET IN THE MOOD, CLICK ABOVE, FOR "GREAT ESCAPE" THEME MUSIC.
I will now relate...life and death struggles for freedom with pre-school birthday parties.
Before my son Andrew entered first grade, typical places for kiddie parties included: Diane's Tot Spot, Kidz at Play, Tunnels of Fun and the Children's Museum. These gathering were often punctuated with clowns, face-painters and magicians. Those with more up-scale tastes might have rented a pony ride or a Moon-Bouncer.
A common finale to such festivities was the vaunted present opening ceremony. The funniest part of this ritual is that overwhelming, the attending gift-giver believes their offering is the most generous, beautiful, clever or useful. It is almost unavoidable that these invitees would call attention to their tribute as to prepare everyone for the recipient's and/or parent's...WOW !
In such matters, it is my experience that these expectations of grandeur are over-stated. More specifically, the gifts at children's parties are predictable because they are recycled from a narrow range of ideas. However at age three, my son Andrew did receive one unique gift that has always stood out in my mind. Its aesthetics were so subtle that at the time, nobody recognized the potential of this plaything's artistic nature, educational value and long-term hands-on fun.
Hard to believe but true, this cool and enchanted gift was nothing more than a mail-away certificate. Easily over-looked in the next few days, it was fortunate that we eventually took advantage and sent away for a live froglet. That's right, a real baby frog was delivered to our house by our omni-creepy postman Ed. Included with the mini-amphibian was...of all things...a lifetime guarantee. Which meant you could indefinitely get new froggies, each time one met its demise.
To augment the experience, we bought a small plastic "frog-house" and left it Andrew's room. When it was cleaning, feeding or fresh water time, the tank's snapping lid was opened at the kitchen sink. Sometimes the cage stayed there for a few days.
On a rare occasion when a worm was found in the garden, there was high drama as we watched and waited for the frog eat the worm, in a spaghetti-like slurp. This tradition started with frog one, Frenchy. Yes, I admit it was wrong of me to teach my son political incorrectness...but I ask you, what else do you name a frog?
After Frenchy left this earth, he was replaced...as per the froglet company's policy by frog deux, Pierre. The third and last little green pet in the series was named Lucky. You might note that my Luckypierre computer screen-name, came directly from the latter two frogs.
In our back yard, we have the final resting places for Pierre and Lucky, ( as well as two guinea pigs...Zhitnik and Picasso). But the big question is...where's Frenchy's crypt ?
STOCK PHOTO...THIS FAMILY PORTRAIT ISN'T FRENCHY, PIERRE OR LUCKY.
Like the mistreated prisoners of war in, "THE GREAT ESCAPE," the instinct for freedom can't be measured. When the alternative is considered, risking your life to break the shackles of unjust incarceration is as obvious to animals as it is to humans. Just try catching a butterfly. Or even better...understand why a wolf caught in a bear trap will intentionally cripple itself by gnawing through its own paw to get away.
THE ALL-AMERICAN BOY, STEVE McQUEEN PERSONIFIED THE FREE-SPIRIT IN ALL OF US.
At this point, I recommend that you re-click on the blue theme music field above.
Frenchy was quite cunning. His petite mastermind must have been working in overdrive until all the right circumstances came together in a combination of the "PERFECT STORM" and the escape scene from the dentist office in "FINDING NEMO." (However, you'll see, the "Finding Nemo" screenwriters clearly stole the idea from Frenchy).
Frenchy's opportunity came at the kitchen sink when his water supply was accidentally too high AND his tank's lid wasn't snapped properly. It wasn't difficult to get out of the cell block...but how would he free himself of the penitentiary's walls. He needed an accomplice...or in this case, an unwitting one like me.
Completely prepared, Frenchy was aware of all my late night movements and tendencies. So, he had already made his Herculean leap from the counter to the floor before I got home. He knew I came home from work around 4:30AM and that I take off my shoes at the front door. Knowing I would not open the lights, he plotted the exact spot I entered the darkened kitchen. Intuitively with the help of his folding slide-ruler, desperate Frenchy risked his survival to position himself...with a 3% margin of error...to be under the softer, arch side of my foot.
When I stepped on Frenchy, he felt squishy like a rotten apricot. I turned on the light and was shocked and repulsed by thought that I killed Andrew's little pet. In a panic, I thought it would be too graphic to return the corpse of Kermit's cousin to his tank. The undignified trashcan was out of the question so I arrived at the final solution...burial at sea. I got the dust pan and nudged the lifeless body on it with a broom. Frenchy was a good actor, under close scrutiny, he never moved or took a breath. Hannibal Lecter in "SILENCE OF THE LAMBS," learned that talent from him.
I advanced to the ground floor powder room. I gulped, thought a few kind words and bid Frenchy a fond adieu. Just before he splashed into the water, he looked back at me and snidely croaked, "Au revoir!" And added, what I later learned was...the French word for; sucker !
He swam into hole and made a mad dash for the Galloway sewer system before I could even flush the toilet...voila...Frenchy's great escape!