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Vicky Hubert


Hop + Hop = Splat

The bright afternoon sun greened up the grass, providing warmth after a long winter, and signaling the school year was closer to the end. Sue and I reluctantly made our way back to the high school after gym class at Central Park. The thought of skipping entered my mind but just for a moment. With my luck I’d be caught, would have detention and more importantly, I’d disappoint Mr. Sorenson, my Algebra teacher.

I was headed for disaster after the first test in September. I flunked it. But to set me straight, Mr. Sorenson kept me after school. The simple concept of changing plus to minus or vice versa when crossing over the equal sign had not sunk in. The light bulb had come on, I had connected to Mr. Sorenson, and was motivated to do my best. By Spring I was competing for the best scores in the class having had a “C” first quarter, “B” second quarter, an “A” third quarter and on track for an “A” fourth quarter. 

Sue and I were making plans for the weekend as we approached the railroad tunnel leading to the school, when I noticed out of the corner of my eye a frog hopping. Maybe Mr. Sorenson would get a surprise today.

Grabbing Sue’s arm, I pulled her over toward the frog. “I think I’d like to add a little drama to Algebra class. If you just help me corner the frog, I’ll grab it.” Puzzled, she took her position to block the frog while I attempted to trap it, coming up short time after time.

“Why do you want this thing?”

She was obviously getting annoyed with me, but with persistence I captured it. With it caged in my hands, we rushed for the gymnasium door knowing the frog had to be planted before Mr. Sorenson arrived at class. Taking two steps at a time, Sue led the way into the crowded hall. “Follow me,” she called back as she weaved through the mob toward the stairwell. 

“We don’t have far to go now, Sue. Thanks for helping me catch the frog. I just want to pull a little prank.” 

“I kind of wish I had Algebra with you, but I have to get my butt to science. I’ll catch up with you later to find out what happens.” 

After three flights of stairs Sue had done her part and was headed to class in the opposite direction. My heart racing, I was on my own. As I made my way to class, I spotted Debbie, who was in Mr. Sheridan’s class next door. It would burn up valuable minutes, but I couldn’t resist tormenting her. Managing to hold onto my books while cupping the frog in my hands I whispered, “Hey Debbie, come here.”

Smiling and waving, she walked quickly toward the doorway yelling out, “What’s up?” I slowly opened my hand to expose the frog. Startled, she jumped back and let out a shriek. Laughing out loud and with little time to spare, I dashed off.

I scoped the classroom; no Mr. Sorenson yet. As my eyes fell on his desk, I spotted his teacher book. Other classmates were slowly arriving, chatting with friends, and milling around the room. Hoping not to draw attention to myself, I wandered over to his desk. Quickly, I lifted the book cover, carefully placed the frog on the pages and closed it gently. Nonchalantly, I turned and moved back toward my desk. Mission accomplished. 

Mr. Sorenson arrived in the doorway wearing his predictable tan pants, yellow shirt, striped brown tie and herringbone sport coat. “Class, find your seats. It’s time to start.” As he wrote a warm-up problem on the board, I found myself sinking in my chair and shifting my eyes from the book, to Mr. Sorenson, to my classmates and back to the book. The frog hadn’t moved. Wiping my sweaty palm on my pant leg, I grabbed my pencil to copy the problem. With my thoughts elsewhere I snapped back as Mr. Sorenson announced, “In your books, turn to page 212.” He reached across the desk for his book and while pulling it toward him, he added, “We’re continuing to work on--” At that moment I saw his jaw drop as the frog escaped, hopped across the desk, and leaped to the floor. What had I done. I slowly sunk in my chair, trying to make myself invisible. 

Someone across the room shouted, “Who did it?” Kids were stretched over tops of desks, giggling and whispering, some probably hoping minutes would quickly pass to shorten the hour. 

Mr. Sorenson slowly followed the frog, as it hopped across the wooden floorboards toward the long narrow cubbyhole off to the right of his desk. Feeling like he was looking directly at me as he turned, he commented, “I guess it’s found a home. Let’s check the warm-up problem.” Feeling like I was in a fishbowl, kids started settling down around me and I tried looking innocent. But every time Mr. Sorenson looked out to the class for a response, I felt his eyes focus directly on me. 

The end of the hour finally came and I gathered up my books hoping for a clean escape. As I blended in with the other students leaving the room, a low voice said, “Vicky, can you have a seat for a moment.” I could feel my face beginning to heat up and my heart was in my throat. I sheepishly turned and sat down in the nearest desk. He ambled over and my thoughts were racing. Would it be after-school detention, a visit to the principal’s office, or worse, a call to my parents? I knew I’d have some explaining to do if word of this stunt went beyond this room. As he stood over me with a stern look, even his smaller stature seemed to dwarf me. “Vicky, there’s no harm done, but why did you bring this frog to class?” 

With some sense of relief that he had a sense of humor, I sheepishly answered, “I don’t know. The frog was just there, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Arms crossed and foot tapping, Mr. Sorenson shook his head and grinned. “You will need to remove the frog from the room. I have to get over to the Math Resource room so I’m trusting that you will take care of it.” 

What a relief. No detention, no word sent to the principal or my parents. The only problem was I had class on second floor so had to work quickly. I couldn’t be late; a tardy would require an explanation, lead to trouble, which I had just avoided. Getting down on all fours, I crawled into the cubbyhole and grabbed the frog. There was no way I could make it down three floors, back up to second and be on time. Desperate, I saw the wide-open windows and made a snap decision. Holding the frog tightly, I moved toward the window. I had no choice, so I stretched my arm as far out from the building, slowly unfolded my fingers one by one. The diving platform was ready for the frog’s final performance.