Last words & epigraphs
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Frog Prince II: An Open Letter to the Princess
First of all I would like to apologize for the regrettably public nature of this discourse. I’m afraid that your decision to proceed with the restraining order, and the recent decampment to Ibiza, as well as the alteration of your phone and pager numbers, the closure of your email accounts, and the revocation of my security clearances and passwords, has left me with no choice but to contact you in this most public manner.
It is with a heavy heart, then, that I thank the kind editors of Us Weekly for agreeing to print this letter, especially at a time when so much of our national attention is, quite naturally, focused on the trials and tribulations of Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen.
Unfortunately, public discourse is the only outlet left to me now, the only means by which I can communicate with you, my love, my one-time one and only, the woman who quite literally brought me renewed life and then took it all away.
But perhaps you have forgotten, dear Princess, the nature of our relationship. Perhaps our shared history has been melted from your brain by the searing and famous kisses of Mr. Antonio Banderas, who now occupies my space in your bed and, I am loathe to say, my place in your heart as well.
Princess, let me remind you: Once upon a time, a prince was turned into a frog by an evil witch. The prince toiled in the paddies of his kingdom, a lowly amphibian—cold-blooded, web-footed, peer of the newt and the toad. He lived as a frog lives, imbibing insects, lolling about (quite literally) in the muddy bottom of the food chain.
And then—miracle upon miracles—he was kissed. Not by just anybody. He was kissed by a beautiful princess whose very touch carried the magical power of transmogrification.
He was reborn. A prince again.
But he was a prince in a new kingdom, a new world, for time had not stopped during the prince’s amphibious seclusion. No, time had rolled on. The witch’s curse assured our lowly frog eternal life, for he did not age, even as the land around him changed. As village turned to city and city to suburb, he retreated further into the swamps, sheltered himself under paddies, learned to love the smell of grasshoppers in the morning, the busy churn of the swamp at night.
And time marched on.
Until the kiss.
And so our frog prince was reborn into an era of fabulous technological
advancement. Where once there had been castles and fields, there were now
skyscrapers and parking lots. The music of birds was replaced by car horns.
Instead of stars in the night sky, he could see only smog. Where courtliness
and the order of the knight once ruled the land, now there was capitalism.
But how I tried, my love! I threw myself into my new world.
I learned everything: music, television, history, modern manners. From Aerosmith to Jackie Chan. From Happy Days to Roadhouse to the Wu Tang Clan, I studied night and day, filling all my gaps, making myself over in the image I saw in your eyes.
And for a while, it was all worth it. Why? It was worth it for you! We were together. Finally, forever, everlasting.
And how I enjoyed the modern conveniences, the television and the microwave. Cell phones! Refrigeration! Burritos! We lounged in the most comfortable deck chairs, swam in water of crystalline chemical blue.
How we laughed at Paris and Nicole as they tried to live The Simple Life. How we danced to the rhythmic bounce of Beyonce and Jay-Z as we looked into one another’s eyes and sang it over and over again: “Got me looking so crazy right now, your touch, got me hoping you’ll page me right now, your kiss, got me hoping you’ll save me right now...”
Your kiss. Indeed.
We were the brightest, the most beautiful. I exchanged my puffy shirt for Tommy Hilfiger and you signed the contract with Versace. Those were the days. Vacation with the Beckhams. The week on Clooney’s boat. The house in Ibiza.
And now I cannot even think of these places. Like everything else, they are ruined forever by the mere thought of Antonio Banderas in that house, in our bed, doing god knows what.
But unfortunately, I do know, for I have seen the video.
I paid my $39.95 along with every other single, desperate man with a credit card and a DSL line and I watched my chaste, beautiful princess, down on your glorious knees, legs akimbo, and doublebacked with the Latin heartthrob.
Please, before you embarrass yourself further, my precious, do not protest.
I have heard your declarations of innocence, seen you on the Oprah show and watched your father’s barristers doing their nightly spin on Entertainment Tonight and Fox News. But you forget, dear Princess. You forget that I am in a unique position to identify that little mole on your yogalates-enhanced behind, so despite the national outcry and the lawsuits and the grainy, amateur-video production values, I know it was you.
I knew that you were a “modern princess.” As a human, of course, I did my homework, read the Jane magazine features and the expose in the Star. I saw the websites and the Playboy spread. But you told me those days were behind you, and I believed it all. And now to see you and Antonio Banderas splay-legged on the very comforter we received from none other than Queen Noor of Jordan?
Do you have any idea the pain you’ve caused?
Did I ask to be kissed?
Did I ask, any more than Gregor Samsa, to be changed into this horrible creature who writes to you now, wretched in my longing, Gollum-ized in the national media?
Do you know what a joy it is to be a frog? To be concerned only with catching enough insects to get through the day?
There is a rhythm to swamp life that has gone missing in industrialized society, and we—no, you, with your Blackberry and your jet, your hair extensions and implants and botox injections—are none the better for it. Swamp life is a simple life. Predictable. Honorable. Of this, the joy of simple pleasures, you would know nothing.
There is perhaps a misconception about the catching of insects, a misunderstanding that it is a grinding, blue-collar job, long hours and little return. An emotionally stilted life.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
As a frog I was a hunter, a true part of my ecosystem. I ate, defecated, swam, and lived as one with my fellow beings. Rather than tread upon the grass or the bog, I lived in it. I was a part of the earth, connected to everything.
Was I a target for the turtle and the raccoon? Naturally. But I assure you, Princess, knowing now what I could never have known then, that I would take my chances with the raccoons and the bats and the fish—every time—rather than risk the vultures of Hollywood, London, Paris, or New York.
Before your kiss, I knew nothing of credit ratings. Car payments, interest rates, mortgages, lawyer fees. Now I am up to my eyeballs in creditors. The BMW has been repossessed. The Hummer is no longer in my control. My bank account has been closed. The AmEx card no longer carries its special magic. The men at the security gate prevent my access to your kingdom.
Can you imagine what life is like without these things?
As a man, it is pure agony. But as a frog, a different story.
Goodbye, my princess.