A plaintive voice from the swamp

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 March, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 March, 1993, 12:00am

HEY, what's the matter with you, you look terrible? What's the use, life is pointless.

Oh! It's OK for you, you're a human. It's different when you're a frog.

Why's that? You just hang out in a swamp. Everyone is exactly the same. I'm tired of being a lowly green amphibian in a green place full of green amphibious clones.

At least you don't have to get up and go to work every day, and shave and say a bunch of stuff you don't mean, and attend cocktail parties and pretend you're someone better than who you are. I'd say you are pretty lucky.

It's easy for you, you're not down the bottom of the food chain. Even snakes and lizards are above us frogs.

That's because you choose to see it that way. What about all the creatures below you? All the spiders, flies and mosquitoes, and things? So, what about 'em? They're just a lot of mindless meal breaks.

They don't see it like that.

Who cares, man? The point is, life's pointless.

When did you start feeling that way? I guess about 50 or 60 moons ago. It was fine for a while, just after that interesting tadpole phase. But then I got some self-awareness; I began to notice I was green. Green, man! Green's OK on grass and trees and stuff, but on animals?! Give me a break. If you ask me, it's embarrassing. And everyone looking identical doesn't exactly build a sense of individuality.

Oh, I don't know . . . a lot of people really like frogs.

Sure. Specially French people.

OK. But why do you want to be different? Why can't you just be happy being what you are? You know what they say: ''The grass is always . . .'' Greener, right? Every damn thing that's good for you humans is synonymous with green: ''The green, green grass of home'', ''A clean, green environment'' etc. etc. If green is so great why aren't humans green? Why don't you all rush out and buy green sunlamps instead of brown ones? Tell me that! Not all frogs are green. You are one of about 2,700 species. There's black and yellow, and red and white . . . you're a pretty diverse lot.

Not where I live. Everyone's this awful green colour with silly looking bulging eyes.

At least you're a true frog and not a toad.

Thanks. Is that supposed to make me feel better? Why not? Look at it this way. What are the chances of you becoming Mel Gibson any time soon? See! There you go. No wonder I feel bad about myself. You make up fairy tales where a beautiful princess kisses a frog and he becomes Prince Charming; the inference being that frogs are the lowest, ugliest creatures on the planet. It's the same with the Mel Gibson stuff.

Look, all I'm saying is just accept that you're a slimy, green, bulgy-eyed amphibian and not Mel Gibson, that's all. Compared with Mel Gibson you've got it made. You don't have to get up at 4 am and go to work in some dumb film studio and you can have sex 100 times a day and with as many females as you like. Mel's married. Best of all you have absolutely no awareness of your own mortality. Mel knows he's going to look like hell one day then shrivel up and die.

You mean ''croak''.

What? Croak. That's another demeaning frog term you use to describe the human demise. You say someone ''croaked''.

Boy, you really do see everything as murky.

There you go again! Just because I'm forced to live in a swamp you have to make light of it.

I'm sorry. It was a poor choice of words. Anyway, nobody's forcing you to live in a swamp. You've got a choice. Right here you've got plenty to eat and not a bad life. You chose it, no one else.

Yeah? Well I didn't choose to be green. In fact I didn't choose to be of the Family Ranidae at all. I don't care if he is married, I'd still rather be Mel Gibson. Or even Tom Cruise.

Great. Terrific. Well, Mel is not a choice, and neither is Cruise. And get this: Robert Mitchum isn't either. You've got a choice. You can be a frog and green or green and a frog. That's it. End of story.

Why can't I also have an image, like you.

Because images are a cross to bear for humans, just like having plump, tasty legs are a burden for you. Just remember the words of Erasmus: ''It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is.'' Was Erasmus a human? Yes, a Dutch priest.

What would he have said had he been a frog? He would have said . . . Ribbit . . . ribbit. In Dutch.