The name of this blog was selected with a nod to Douglas Adams. The Frogstar is the home of the Total Perspective Vortex, an horrific torture device which somehow provides the victim with a perspective of the true size of the universe and his or her own significance within it, which, needless to say, is so close to being zero that if it were any closer, it would be negative. The end result is that this glimpse of stark reality drives the victim to insanity.
While I don’t pretend to be able to mimic the incredible power of a Total Perspective Vortex, the idea for this blog is that I have a place to take a look at my life, perhaps a Partial Perspective Vortex of sorts. I need someone to talk to, and I don’t have anyone in my life right now with whom I can be completely open, completely honest. I suppose I could write this in a journal, but I wouldn’t want anyone I know to stumble upon it and read it. Since sometimes the best place to hide something is right out in the open, I decided to start this blog. And thanks to you, dear reader, and the teeming masses of disinterested readers who collectively comprise the Internet Universe, my life on the Frogstar will be almost as insignificant as that of a victim of the Total Perspective Vortex. To more fully mark my insignificance and to provide at least a modicum of anonymity, I will not give my name. If you must refer to me, you may simply call me the Frogman.
So. Where to start?
The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. “Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?” he asked. “Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on ’till you come to the end: then stop.” Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
While on the surface it seems to be sage advice to start a story at the beginning, it’s not always the most useful approach. Instead, I will jump with both feet into the story pretty much right where we are now. Then I will have the freedom to move backward and forward as either need arises. I have realized something about stories recently. True stories, anyway. A true story starts out boring and ends with pain and loss. That’s not to say that the beginning and the end are not worth reading, but it is only in the middle that true excitement can be found. I will begin, therefore, somewhere in the middle.
With a friend.
Two people who are true friends are like two bodies with one soul. Chaim Potok, The Chosen
It’s complicated. In my heart, I want to call her Friend. Since we are in the Partial Perspective Vortex, though, I suppose Girlfriend may give you, dear reader, a name that more closely resembles my feelings. That is to say, if I had the freedom to call her Girlfriend, and she had the freedom to accept that name, perhaps that name would apply. Perhaps. The complications arise, however, when the vortex reveals that I am married to Wife, who, by way of introduction, is an amazing woman whom I love dearly. Of course she has her faults, but nothing that would make me want to lose her. Likewise, Girlfriend is also married. To Mr. Wonderful. He is kind, outgoing, patient, accepting, energetic, and he knows where he wants to go in life and how to get there. If I had to choose someone for Girlfriend to be married to, I would pick Mr. Wonderful.
Things would be easier if I could call Wife a different name. Perhaps Insensitive. Or Cruella. And Mr. Wonderful? Wouldn’t it make for a more strightforward story if he were instead Big Jerk, or at least Antagonist? Or even if I could really call Girlfriend simply Friend. Motives would be more clear, and we would know where the story should go. But the truth of the matter is that I am in love with Wife. Girlfriend is in love with Mr. Wonderful. And Girlfriend and I are friends. Well, more than friends. But never more than friends. And just to make things interesting, Mr. Wonderful and Girlfriend live right across the street from Wife and me. Understand? Complicated.
Now, Wife knows that I more-than-like Girlfriend, and has become increasingly unhappy about that. About two months ago, she demanded that I cease communication with her. We can get more into the backstory later, but to simply set the stage for now, let me say that I felt that the request was unfair and too strict, but that the circumstances were such that I felt obligated to comply. Or at least, to appear to comply.
I actually did a pretty good job meeting her demand. We cut our communication down drastically. A few more texts were sent over the next two weeks, and then stopped completely. We would see each other coming or going from our homes and would share a glance and sometimes a wave. I wrote poetry furiously, a poem a day for almost a month, trying to sort through my feelings, and I posted that where I knew she would find it. An email or two every once in a while to share a link to an article or a song. For the most part, though, we were compliant with Wife’s request.
Until Girlfriend got an iPhone. I have an iPhone, but nobody to FaceTime, and that’s just too cool a feature to ignore. The temptation was too much. We used FaceTime together. We had a lot to catch up on. We talked for hours. One day, perhaps as long as six hours. Seeing her again was a breath of fresh air. It felt absolutely wonderful. Until I got home and knew I had a secret. I couldn’t stand it. I knew that Wife would ask. Someday. When she did, I knew I wouldn’t be able to lie. But day after day she didn’t ask. And day after day I continued to FaceTime. I couldn’t stand the thought of not being able to talk to Girlfriend during the day, and I couldn’t stand the thought of getting caught by Wife in the evenings. I don’t remember now. Was it a week of FaceTime? Was it ten days? Eventually, though, I had to stop. I couldn’t live that duality. We agreed not to use it any more. At least not for a long while. Perhaps after things had cooled off a bit more we would use it again. But for now, it was over. It was just four days later that Wife asked: “Are you communicating with Girlfriend?” I could answer that I wasn’t, since we had stopped. It wasn’t 100% an honest answer, but it was enough that I felt I could get away with it. And I did. She didn’t press me, and I didn’t have to admit that I had recently communicated. We had stopped just barely in time.
It was two weeks later when I saw Girlfriend working outside in her garden. I had received a single text about a week before that went something like this: “We changed our phone numbers and I wanted you to have it so we can keep in touch. Xoxoxo. -Girlfriend.” I had known that at some point she was going to change her phone number, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected to receive that text. But the “Xoxoxo” was completely out of character. Doesn’t that mean hugs and kisses? Why would she write that? That wasn’t something she would normally say. If anything, I would have expected her to write “(Frogman)” since that would have been almost perfect proof of who she was. But with “Xoxoxo” I wasn’t entirely sure the message was legitimate. It seemed likely it was really her, regardless. But it also seemed it could have been an almost perfect way to lay a snare for me. I didn’t think it was very likely, but I gave it maybe a 10% probability that perhaps the text was from a friend of Wife, trying to see if I would take the bait at some point in the future and send some incriminating text back to that number. It wasn’t something that I would expect from Wife, but since Girlfriend and I weren’t communicating, and I wasn’t about to ask Wife about it, I had no way to verify which way it went. Until I saw her in the garden and thought about the question.
I thought to myself: I just need 30 seconds. I can ask her and be done, and then I’ll be sure. Wife was not home. I didn’t know when to expect her. I headed for the door. Children needed my assistance. I delayed and helped them. When they were busy, I headed again for the door. A visitor showed up. Talked. Talked. Talked. Finally left. Children again. Everything is fine. I walk across the street. “Hi,” I say. A big smile on her face, and then a matching one on mine. “Did you change your phone number?” A puzzled look. “Yes. I thought I sent you a text. I signed it.” Okay, it was legitimate, now how to explain why I had to ask? “You did. I just wanted to make sure…” and Wife drives around the corner and sees me talking to Girlfriend. “I’m sorry,” she says. “It’s my fault,” I tell her, and walk back across the street to meet my doom.
Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned. William Congreve, The Mourning Bride
See? I told you that if you want to find excitement in the story, just look somewhere in the middle.