I didn’t think too much about the first froggie. The
little stuffed animal appeared hanging from the doorknob to my apartment last
Halloween. After all, it was Halloween, and the small creature seemed sweet and
harmless. When he fell from my doorknob a couple of days later, I brought him inside.
I live on the fourth floor of a condo building near downtown
Melrose. It’s a secure building. Visitors have to be buzzed in. And it’s friendly,
occupied mostly by older retired folks and single people.
day another froggie appeared. This fuzzy toy was bigger than the first, with a crown on
his head, velvet lipstick marks on his cheek and a banner that said, “Kiss me” sewn
across his chest. This second froggie frightened me a bit.
of days later, he fell from my doorknob, and I brought him inside, too.
The next evening I found a note that had been slipped under my door. Large letters
scrawled on white-lined paper in green magic marker, “MOMMY, DID YOU EAT F1 LEGS?
I was unsettled by this turn of events. This no longer seemed a
harmless prank. Whoever this person was, they knew my gender and had a good idea of my
It had to be either someone that lived in the building or
someone that had access. It could have been the creepy guy with the toupee that lives
down the hall and around the corner. He keeps plastic dinosaurs on the dashboard of his
van and calls me, “lady,” like we’re old pals.
Then I thought about the
scary pizza delivery boy. I can always tell when it’s him: one short buzz followed by
incessant knocking. When I open the door, he just stands there, holding my pizza with a
serial killer style blank stare. I say hi, but he is silent. I act calm, confident and
friendly as I try to hand him his money, but he always stands there for a terrible
moment, not moving to either take my money or hand me my pizza. He just stares right
through me. Then he’ll shake his head. We make our exchange, and he leaves. Instead of
turning around, he walks away backwards.
I decided to handle the
situation like any normal person would have under the same circumstances. I would send a
message. I fashioned a mini-hangman’s noose with a piece of string and tied it around
big frog’s hand. I painted a toothpick with red nail polish and stuck it into little
froggie’s eye. I then hung little froggie from the noose and displayed the whole
ensemble on the outside of my door. Surely this would frighten the culprit.
The following night another note appeared under my door. It
read, “MOMMY, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO F1? F2”
It seemed that my
foreboding message served only to aggravate the situation. I took the noose from the big
frog’s hand, brought the little one inside and freed him of the noose and
Things were quiet for a couple of days. Then I found a
third note. “MOMMY, WHERE IS F1? A VERY TROBLED F2”
it was, they couldn’t spell for shit.
I should have ignored it, but my
immaturity got the best of me. I would send a more frightening message this
I took a small plastic vial with a rubber cap, normally used to
keep flowers-in-transit hydrated. I twirled and rolled a piece of masking tape until it
was shaped like a tiny, tiny frog and filled the vial with red wine. I held it up to the
light. Too dark. I took a small sip, then added some water. Perfect. Bloody, yet with
visibility. I dropped the tiny masking tape frog into the vial of fake blood and
fastened it to a string, which I tied to the big froggie’s hand. This would surely do
the trick, I thought.
I was wrong. The following evening there was
another note. It said “MOMMY, WHY DID YOU SHRINK F1? F2.”
That did it.
This was out of my hands. I removed the small vial of bloodied baby frog from the big
frog’s hand and tossed it. It was unthinkable that such a sinister display of frog abuse
could be taken so lightly. Whoever it was, they were far sicker than I. This frightened
I called Carolyn at the management company the following
“Has anyone else in the building complained about receiving anonymous
gifts and notes?” I asked.
“What kind of gifts?”
stuffed animal frogs.”
“Maybe you have a secret admirer,” she said,
“Well, it’s upsetting because it only happens when I’m at work,
and that leads me to think that whoever is doing it, knows when I’m not around.” I
“Okay, honey, fax me the notes, and I’ll see if I can match the
handwriting to any paperwork from the other unit owners in the building,” she
She called me when she received the fax.
I laughed. This is really creepy.”
“Don’t worry. I understand. In most
instances frogs are amusing.”
“I can’t match this to anything. Call the
police. Tell them you talked to me, and I told you to call them. This is really
creepy,” she said again.
When I called the police, they told me to call
back from home, and they’d send an officer over to take my statement. This didn’t sound
like very much fun. I almost didn’t call back, but when I got home, there was another
“MOMMY, WHERE IS F1? PLEASE TELL ME. F2.”
called the police again. They told me they would send an officer right over. Shortly
thereafter a young police officer arrived. He had already seen the big frog on the door.
I showed him the notes and the little frog. He asked pointed questions like, “Have you
spoken with anyone about frogs?”
I shook my head.
me he would look into the matter and asked if he could take the frogs and notes as
evidence. I gladly obliged. I no longer liked the frogs.
later, I heard a soft knocking on my door. I opened it a crack and there stood Bert, the
80-year-old man from down the hall. Bert is a tall thin fellow, fond of flannel shirts
and baseball caps. In the spring, he dons a great floppy hat and plants flowers on the
small island at the nearby intersection of Main and Green Streets. During the winter,
Bert walks up and down the hallways to get his exercise. We make small talk
“Hey Bert. How are you?” I asked, opening the door and
“How are F1 and F2?” he asked timidly.
creepy toupee man or scary pizza delivery boy. It was cute little old
“That was you?!” I felt like the biggest wimp in the world.
“I got scared. I didn’t know it was you.” I
said, laughing with relief.
“I’m sorry if I alarmed you. I’m a crazy
old man. And I was having such fun with it,” he said chuckling.
pictured Bert giggling mischievously as he attached the frogs to my door and felt guilty
for raining on his little amphibian parade.
“Well, I’m so glad it was
you,” I said.
“Who did you think it was?” he asked.
old Bert was from a different time; back when you could leave your doors unlocked and let
your kids ride their bikes without helmets. Perhaps he did not order his pizza from the
same place I did. I would not shatter his innocence.
“I honestly didn’t
know.” I replied.
We chatted for a bit and then said goodnight.
When Bert left, I called the police again and was transferred to the
officer who took my statement. I explained to him what happened and asked him to drop
the froggie investigation.
“Is he a tall, thin older fellow that wears a
baseball cap?” he asked.
“Yes, that’s him.”
“Yup. He saw
me in the hall with the frogs.” He said in a dragnet tone of
Grateful that he couldn’t see me smirking, I thanked him and
apologized for taking his time.
“It’s okay,” he said kindly. “You did
exactly the right thing. The trouble should stop now.”
He asked me if I
wanted him to make a report, and I said no. He asked me if I wanted the notes and frogs
back, and I said no.
At this point I was hungry, tired and shaken from
the whole misadventure. I called Billy’s Roast Beef and ordered a sandwich. When I went
out to get it, I forgot my keys and locked myself out.
It was a brisk
November evening, and I hadn’t planned to be outside for very long. Clad only in a
Monkees T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops, I ran across the street to the pay phone at the
strip mall. I would simply take a cab to my parents’ house a couple of miles away and
get the spare set that they had. And there in front of the pay phone, like a great
beacon, was a taxi.
He drove me to my folks’ house, and I asked him to
wait outside. My Dad answered the door.
“Come on in, honey. Sit down
and have a drink,” he said.
“I’m sorry, Dad. I can’t. I’m locked out, and
there’s a cab waiting for me. Can I grab that spare set of keys?”
tell by his face that I was in trouble.
“Jeez, what the hell did I do with
them?” he asked scratching his head.
We searched in all the regular key
places -- the little tin box in the kitchen drawer where the garage keys are kept, the
ceramic tray borne by the cherub in the dining room and even my father’s cigar humidor.
Our efforts were fruitless.
“Why don’t you sit down and have a drink?”
asked my mother.
“I can’t. I’m locked out of my house,” I explained
“Well, just stay here then,” she suggested.
can’t. I have all my stuff for work tomorrow at home,” I told her.
then sit down and have a drink,” she said again.
“I can’t. I’m sorry. I
really shouldn’t keep the cab waiting much longer. I’ll figure something out,” I
My poor father looked at me with concern. “What will you do? Let
me at least drive you back.”
It was 10:00 p.m., and he was wearing his
“It’s okay, the cab driver waited for me. I’ll have the
fire department break in or something. Don’t worry. I’ll call you when I get back in,”
I said, kissing them goodnight.
My cab driver’s name was Fuji. He was a
good-looking, swarthy man from Morocco. I apologized to Fuji for keeping him waiting
and shared my tale of woe with him. I explained my plan to call the fire department and
asked him to take me back to the pay phone that we left from.
sad story. I want to help you,” said the kind Fuji. He turned off his meter.
“Here, use my cell phone to call fire department,” he said handing me the
small black object.
Oh no. A cell phone. This was bound to happen
Under normal circumstances, I would be proud to demonstrate
my ignorance over such frivolous technology, but tonight I felt guilty asking for more
help from this generous stranger. I held it in my hand, staring at it with a mixture of
fear and confusion.
“How does it work?” I asked
Fuji did not laugh at me. He simply dialed the fire department
and handed me the phone. When I hung up, he drove me back to my place.
“Will you be okay?” he asked.
“Yes, Fuji, thank you so
much. You’ve been very kind.” I said, tipping him generously.
inside the foyer to get out of the wind and within fifteen minutes, the firemen showed up
in their big, shiny red truck. They had a key to the main building and another set of
keys that would allow them access to some of the units. Unfortunately, mine was not one.
Hence, they would have to position their shiny, red fire truck outside my apartment and
send someone up on a ladder to access my unit through the unlocked balcony door.
They told me to wait outside my apartment door. That was when I
remembered the candles that I left burning. Surely the firemen would not be pleased.
They might even consider me a danger to society. Perhaps I was. I confessed my crime
and humbly promised to never leave burning candles unattended again.