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.


Yes, it’s bitter

At some point, I was going to have to voice my objection to the state of espresso in this country.  And it was the advent of a really good cup of coffee that finally prompted me.

So,  It’s bad.  It’s bitter.  You’re not supposed to have to dump sugar in coffee to make it palatable.  I’ve even tried some of the best SF places (to remain unnamed) and one tiny sip is all it takes for disappointment and resignation to set in.  Followed by enough sugar to counteract the bitterness.  I’ve sometimes wondered if the white sugar multi-nationals are plotting some world wide conspiracy to addict the world’s population and ultimately bend them to their sugary will.  But I digress.  People have written at length about the state of bad coffee, they’ve imported complicated and expensive systems from Italy, but I just decided to give it up.

But this morning, I found myself at a Starbucks in Seattle of all places (at 185th and Aurora, of all places) and instead of my usual tea, or chai tea latte, I thought, what the heck and ordered an Americano.  It took me a minute to articulate just how small a cup I wanted.

Me:  I’ll have a small.

Barista (pointing):  That’s tall.

Me:  Don’t you have a really, really small, child’s size cup?

Barista (digging deep under the counter):  Oh, you mean short.

Right short.  I mean six and maybe eight ounces.  And it was delicious.  Not bitter.  So, I just want to shout out to my new friends at Starbucks for doing it right and especially those Northern Seattle baristas.  You girls have got to go national.