“The Frog Prince”, by Robert Coover, in the January 27, 2014 issue of The New Yorker
Every myth has its underlying purpose to somehow keep society functioning. I suppose the one about women kissing frogs prevents them from failing to reproduce. After all, you kiss the abomination, get in enough physical contact, and bonding hormones kick in and he starts to look good, or at least not that bad, then next thing you know you're having offspring.
But practicing a behavior because it keeps a society functioning on an evolutionary scale doesn’t work that well for the individual. Sometimes it’s better not to reproduce, than reproduce frogs.
Our society is more tolerant of single women than it has been, but there’s still a massive push for all women to find a permanent partner, even if he’s not that great of a guy.
Sex and the City used to handle this theme. We watched gorgeous, well off, educated professional women who were so anxious for a romance they’d settle for some goof living in a basement apartment who had a part time unskilled labour job. The modern, much harsher equivalent of that program, Girls, explores similar themes, with Hannah involving herself with a dubious character who makes me cringe, and want to invite her over for tea and cookies. I’d like to mother that girl…
Robert Coover’s short story “The Frog Prince” captures the phenomenon humourously. I won’t give it away, especially since the story fits on a single page.
But if you’re questioning the relationship you’re in, or the one you’re about to leap into, read this story. No need for purchase, just click and read. Read this story and remember Coover’s depiction of the frog prince, that “all he wanted was to be a frog again”.
Fast, modern, hallucinogenic and insightful, this short story delivers therapeutic value for any person about to get involved with the wrong partner, male or female.
The New Yorker prints excellent short stories and intelligent articles. Get yourself a subscription.