Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Frog Fondler

This past weekend was the Old Forge Fathers Day Frog Jumping Competition. Dads from far and wide bring their kids to the tennis courts near Old Forge pond to fondle frogs and stand suspiciously close to what is a probably a pedophile in a giant frog costume. This would be our third year - and Owens first - and once again I expected to storm to victory. I carried the dead-weight of my daughter to victory - or Third Fastest Frog. The rest of my family take this all rather seriously. I enjoy my daughter having fun, and I love seeing my family - so found the courage to battle through the oddly competitive nature of some and the plethora of bug bites received trying to catch frogs.

And by competitive I mean like this - last year my family took a boat by 4x4 to a far-away pond looking for the best frogs.

Which is mental. This year I changed it up. Unlike last year we didn't go as gung-ho looking for the finest frogs that could be found. This year, seeing as I am a stay-at-home Dad now (or, as my best mate calls me, a "middle-aged woman") we went in this Victory Chariot-:

A couple of us went out to get frogs the day before the competition. My brother-in-law landed a nine pound bullfrog he named Stump Ugly. Honestly, this thing was a Behemoth. His future brother-in-law (through his soon-to-be wife - we'll call him T-Bone) landed a four and a half pound frog for his 9 year old boy. I landed these two -:

And by "I landed" I of course mean that my wife did. I ponced around in the water for a good 45 minutes and landed a few tadpoles and a Pepsi bottle cap. The one on the left is my son's frog "Hop Head." The other one, which still has a tail (or "winkie") my daughter named "Bouncer."

I should disclose at this point that those are not the original frogs that we chose. On Saturday lunch time we all went and caught some quality frogs. The monster frogs were caught along with a few smaller athletic agile frogs. We also chucked a handful of the mutant half frog/half tadpole things as well for the kids to gawk at. But by the time we'd got home they all "disappeared" and only the two big buggers were left. Quite the mystery. So we tipped the big ones into a giant barrel and my wife and I went out to get some more. They were the two above, a third small frog and a mutant. And yet once we fished them all out on the morning of the competition we found once again some had "disappeared."

At noon we headed out. My aunt in Texas had rather embarrassingly made outfits this year for my daughter and her cousin. Basically a t-shirt, horrifying pants and a knitted hat. She's very talented and my daughter and her cousin loved them.

Also at the event -:

I certainly didn't expect the giant cuddly frog-pedo thing to start flicking the Vs at all the kids. I'll assume that as I was the Englishman there (other than my daughter) that he thought he could get away with that. Well doesn't he look the fool now.....

Anyway, after the weigh-in (yes, I did just say that) we got straight into the action. First was the long jump - the "stewards" calculated the total distance a frog jumped from the starting line to after three hops. As I was running the race with my daughter, my son was helped by his grandfather. We lined up....

They blew the whistle!! And Evelyn plopped Bouncer down on his back....

Needless to say we didn't win that round. We didn't even place in the top three. Bouncer managed to flip over and then limply skip along just 10 inches. The winner hopped a mighty 78 inches. I went that frog urine-tested and any relationship with Barry Bonds to be disclosed. My son's frog didn't place either. So we scooped them up and headed over to the Fastest Frog competition. Basically six frogs are dropped through a hole in the top of a garbage can lid and released. First out of a drawn circle wins. Here's some ridiculously exciting action.

And here's where it got ugly.

Neither of my kids frogs placed in this competition. My brother-in-laws monster frog got through to the final round of three thereby automatically picking up the 3rd Place trophy. Which was good because in the final it didn't budge - probably weighed down by all the other frogs we suspect it had eaten. T-Bone didn't make it to the final either. T-Bone and his son are going through something awful right now. T-Bone's wife had breast cancer and after a year of fighting what they knew was a no-hope battle she passed away last month.

So this frog jump was a way to cheer up a 9 year old boy who is not dealing with the death of his mom very well at all. Earlier on during the Long Jump he'd already had a giant meltdown and stormed off pronouncing this whole thing to be stupid and pointless. His father had managed to calm him down and bring him back. As he realized his frog wasn't going to win anything here either he'd got a little sulky again. In the final it was clear that Stump Ugly was last. The winning frog zoomed out of the circle and it's owners gleefully grabbed him and hoisted it high like an Olympic champion. Somehow - and I don't really know how - T-Bone and my brother in law managed to conspire and convince the judges that the 2nd place frog actually belonged to them and not the little girl that was probably looking for it. T-Bone's son - well aware that he didn't even have a frog in the race - spent a good portion of the day being a truly sore winner by telling other kids - including my own - that they lost and that he was ace. Neither T-Bone nor my brother-in-law could give the slightest toss that a little girl spent a good fifteen minutes wandering around upset that not only did she not win a trophy, but that her frog had disappeared.

Anyway - back to the happy. We figured we were going home without a trophy. My daughter - oddly comfortable with this sort of thing - was genuinely happy that her cousin had won two trophies for 3rd Fastest and Heaviest Frog. Then they called my daughter's name for what is clearly the best trophy to have won all day - the 3rd Lightest Frog. She received her trophy with dignity and grace. From what probably was a pedophile dressed as a frog. I could tell that an example had been set that day.

 My son, well he didn't care at all. Frog fondling is an exhausting business.

I shall spend the rest of the day figuring out how to craft a trophy cabinet that can hold the massive weight of all the amphibian-based victory trophies that my daughter is inevitably going to win during her lifetime.

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