I promised I would never reveal his true identity so I’ll call him Rana Rene, which is how Kermit the Frog is known in Latin America, so obviously he must be Latin or maybe it is just meant to confuse you. In Spain Kermit is Rana Gustavo, less rhythmic than Rana Rene. We are always burdened by translation and coloring inside the lines.
When we were kids Rana Rene and I would hang and talk about imaginary worlds like Timbuktu and Amsterdam in our own private dialect while we hunkered down in his tree house in winter. “My mom says they smoke pot”, he told me. It took me long time to figure out
the Dutch didn’t smoke ceramics. It never snows in Florida, but it rains. I wouldn’t ever write what we spoke about on paper, not even for money or fame, except maybe for laughs.
I miss my incredible Slinky. I miss playing Asteroids and Space Invaders with him. Bowling at Hollywood Bowling Alley. I miss Pac Mac too. I miss Church’s Fried Chicken and strawberry milkshakes from Burger King. I miss Bobo the Mutt and Clecia. I miss the Berlin Wall and dress up with little brother. I miss Kentucky Fried Chicken before it became KFC, extra crispy rocked. I miss the way Bruce Springsteen performed at the Orange Bowl. I miss the Orange Bowl. I miss Michael Jackson too. All my friends, especially all the sci-fi nerds from Catholic school, miss him too. But most of all I miss Kermit the Frog, the man with many names.
Imagine me in a feature film directed by Wes Anderson. Almost Dorothy cast as the Man With No Name And Without A Face and Bernadette Peters as my mom. Wes would be the director of my dreams because he’d know how to draw the performance out of me. My hair would be crew cut and I would have to lose 15 lbs. But I would be a smash. I’d win an Oscar. Thank God. Rana Rene, the Man With No Name And Without A Face, would call to congratulate me on my solid portrayal of his life as a boy. In our own way we had understood each other despite our obvious differences, frog vs. boy-girl.
I never made it to Hollywood.
I was twelve or so when I told mom about my love for frogs and cosmetics. I thought she’d freak or be okay with it after the Mariel boatlift, which means I’m much older than I indicated earlier. Even though we’re not Cuban mom and I strongly believe Fidel Castro is an idiot. I often wonder if he isn’t already dead, Kermit not Castro.
“Almost Dorothy”, she said, “stop acting like an alien. Be a good girl and find me my slippers.”
We never spoke about him again or about the things that remind me of him. The real Rana Rene, i.e. Kermit the Frog/Man With No Name And Without A Face/guy who guarded the fort while I imagined a family of ducks were Cylons and chased them with an invisible light saber, moved the next day. He left his incredible Slinky behind.
All childhood toys are bound for the future or the dump. I’m spoiled with memories from 80’s. Acoustic guitar and Blondie. Duran Duran and Playdoh. Love Is A Battlefield and the Muppet Show. I was young then. We both knew childhood was just an exercise. Now I return to the idea that I am an alien in America and Kermit the Frog was more human than man.
One night, when I lived on South Beach, I put on my red Converse sneakers and skipped down Washington Avenue humming the lyrics to the Muppet Show. No, I didn’t really skip but in my head I did. It’s time to put on make up. It’s time to dress up right. It’s time to raise the curtain on the Muppet Show tonight. Mid loop I witnessed a man pee on a parking meter next to the Diner, a tree frog on his shoulder. It was a kind of torture watching. When I got home that night I washed my hands and got things started right. I played Space Invaders till dawn.
|Neil de la Flor