mommies, stories worth repeating, Uncategorized

the satisfactory ending

Frog and Toad

You may or may not have had occasion to read Frog and Toad Are Friends recently.  However, if you are like me, and have a young child, you may have read it hundreds of times in the last few months.

And happily so.

The Frog and Toad series, by British author, Arnold Lobel, are among the children’s books that one can read repeatedly and still enjoy, or at least tolerate, or at least not totally loathe.

In fact, I love Frog and Toad and especially Frog and Toad Together.  The stories are good, the characters relatable, and the endings are brilliant.  Enviable.  Analysis-worthy.

But let’s start with two excellent characters, long time bffs. Frog is the elder statesman, the more responsible, more reliable, wiser character with Toad, his immature, ill-mannered, ill-temperated, often neurotic and, of course, good-hearted best friend.  Toad is usually suffering through some lesson, something which more often than not, he does not appreciate.  My daughter has often said, you’re Frog and I’m Toad, and tonight when I asked her who her best friend was, she said, “You.”  So, I guess, I’m still Frog, which is kind of funny, since I relate more to Toad, despite my being older and wiser.

Cookies, a story about Frog and Toad binging on delicious cookies that Toad has baked, ends with Frog giving all the cookies to the birds in order for them to gain willpower. Toad rejects this concept announcing that Frog can keep the willpower–he is going home to bake a cake.

Almost every story is a juicy little nugget; shaped perfectly, with just the appropriate amount of  plot and character development to make them full bodied and delicious.  And the endings…  I don’t want to use the word perfect, but, they really are.

They often end with “place,” like, “The hands of the clock moved to show the hours of a merry Christmas Eve.” Or, “Then they sat in the shade of a large tree and ate their chocolate ice-cream cones together.” “They ran around the corner of Frog’s house to make sure that spring had come again.” In one, Toad has the last word, “Winter may be beautiful, but bed is much better.”

I think my favorite is from The Letter (Frog and Toad are Friends): “Toad was very pleased to have it.” It really comes down to a mixture of closure and uplift.  It’s just so damn satisfying.  You feel as good as Toad getting his first and probably last letter (sent to him by Frog, of course).  Just two best friends feeling as content as can be, as right in their little world as conceivably possible.  The best part is, Frog has already told Toad the contents of the letter, because he has to convince him to wait for it, being, as it is, delivered with interminable slowness, by snail. But they actually end up enjoying the wait because they share the knowledge of the contents of the letter.  Togetherness is a big happy theme too.  But I digress.  I mean, what more can I really say?

Toad was very pleased to have it.

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stories worth repeating, thoughts

the truth or something like that

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Human beings seem to have some intuition for knowing when things are right, a certain feeling of truth and resonance.  It’s the same in fictional stories, when it all adds up and satisfies at the end, and conversely when you hear a story, you often know when something is missing.  Sometimes, you don’t even know that you know, but will guess as some obvious marker, and rewarded later by learning the truth.   These principles hold true in the stories of lives, equally, and the “ah moment” is equivalent in both.

I was thinking about the scientific principle Occam’s razor which, paraphrased somewhat incorrectly says, the simplest answer is usually the correct one, but it’s more accurately explained: “When multiple competing hypotheses are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the hypothesis that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities.”

Thus, Occam’s razor doesn’t exactly speak to the stories of human’s life, which are not necessarily simple (or are they) and yet, when revealed accurately, make absolute sense to us (and perhaps this is only some sort of pattern recognition, but those patterns seem to be repeated and repeated so that a story like The Iliad, and the conflicts within, ring perfectly true to us today, thousands of years later.)

All this is to say, that late last night a friend called to tell me the truth about something he’d been keeping from me.  And not knowing wasn’t bothering me (because I wasn’t thinking I didn’t know something), but knowing still comes as a huge relief, like a coming up for air breath, like an ahhhh at the end of a compelling story.

This gets me thinking about mysteries, and how much we really like them.  A woman isn’t supposed to lose too much of her mystery, and granted they do keep us on the edge of our seats, but I wonder how much better (or worse) it is just to know.