the time i shot a frog


so, wanna go deer-hunning with my dad'n me? that offer came from the man who as a boy threw himself on the ground, prostrate, yet face up, in an open field behind his california house, near gilroy. turkey buzzards circling overhead. adam pretending he was dead. buzzards looping lower, shifting their tack, lured by this novel prey. there were five. he thought he could see a vulture's eye, the pale iris in its read naked head. he heard their shrill screech. just then his father  came rushing from the porch, racking his shot gun from the hip. of course adam ran, and ran fast. he easily outran his dad, he was afraid having to pry bebes from his but.
taking me hunting was supposedly an honor, but likely made because i was faint about killing, had never held a gun, let alone shot anything. somehow they thought it would be fun to see me getting grossed out. i accepted straight off. who knows what possessed me.
mid-day, a few days later we drove to the ranch in the old man's rickety willis cj4, roof off, wind shield down, up into the sierras above gilroy, leaning much side ways through gullies and dry arroyos, further and further up into pine ridge hills, on gravel and dirt barely wide enough for the track of the truck. adam's father was driving. i held on with both hands sitting in the back, tossed about on the blank metal seat, as on a small boat in bad weather. it were hot in them there hills. the grass of september shimmering flaxen, static, hardly a breeze to take note. adam wearing shorts and a t-shirt, a half cocked gun in his lap, his dad in long duds and a fishing vest. clearly this was different from early fall hunting back east, where camouflaged hunters bundled up, wore heavy timberlands and blaze orange hats, guns in warmers, came trudging down the frosted meadow way over and down from my house.
i motioned i saw a rabbit and roused a wild turkey, and was sharply hushed; the guys in the front seat were out looking for big game, a buck with a rack, bigger the better. the jeep dawdled along, quietly, now in low gear, hardly moving. adam thought he saw a deer. it spotted us first and ran, too far to get a shot.
by then afternoon had turned shady, we cornered off onto a logging road and through a gate into the drive to the ranch. sandwiches and beer, dinner, and later we had cigars, outside by a sputtering fire. brilliant stars, the milky way, mosquitos buzzing, bullfrogs barking, and i told about a time in new york at the four seasons where i had taken a friend and her two kids for dinner. might have been my birthday, looking at menus, damien, the headwaiter took orders; for nicholas a grilled hamburger, and for ana? frog legs, out-doing her brother, who rolled his eyes and went loudly: eeee-ouuuu. there was a moment's hush in that famously fancy place, but small giggles and the clink of a toast carried on and both had spun sugar as desert.
now, i rolled out my sleeping bag and cuddled in, looking up at the sky i was asleep and the morning sun shone bright, the guys were restless and ready to get on with the hunt.
but before we would find an enormously antlered buck, one killed in one perfect shot by adam, and before we drove back in the jeep, deer strapped to the hood, yes, and before i could object i had a rifle put in my hands, loaded, and we stood by the pond a few yards from adam's cottage. his dad had already bagged eleven frogs, big ones, and now it was my turn. i was told to look through the scope; what did i know, and i saw a frog on his lili pad, likely just thinking flies. my instructions were to hold the gun steady, i was wiggling, to inhale and once the frog was in my crosshairs to squeeze the trigger gently and that would be it. phew. so that is what i did. the frog jumped because my shot hit. my performance was apparently perfect. it was clearly hinted i was an expert, even a south german marksman. no doubt, none of my objections convinced. and, because they knew me as a cook, called me a chef, i got to do frog legs that night for dinner. it was gruesome. of course it couldn't compare to adam's field dressing his buck, hanging the carcass to skin and ultimately bagging the meat to take back. i could watch only so long. and then they watched me on my frogs. my stomach had settled, frogs were like cutting up chicken, which i had done often. so, remove the legs below the belly, pull the skin off, brown twenty four legs in hot butter and in no time there was dinner. could i do it again? no, not likely. if ever i should be in need of frog legs, recalling the lili pad, yes, if ever, i'd buy them frozen, on special order. once cooked i'd exclaim, as before, 'taste just like chicken'.