Saturday, March 24, 2018

Deep Thoughts: Is Squiggles the Frog Happy? And Does it Matter?

I ask myself this question--I wouldn't say frequently--but sometimes. Specifically, when I feed Squiggles the Frog (a.k.a. "Squiggles II"), since Squiggles the First died in tadpolehood. 

Anyway, on the rare occasions that Squiggles II's customary caretakers (i.e. the rest of my family) are out of town, I'm tasked each day with tending to Squiggles II. This consists of dumping a tiny, plastic yellow teaspoon of froggie pellets into the top of Squiggles II's plastic aqua-habitat, which is made of two plastic boxes linked together by two plastic tubes that look like a hamster tunnel. 

That's it. Full stop. The end. That's all there is to Squiggles II care, because I'm not alone long enough to have to change his water, fortunately.

Squiggles II has been our lone family pet since tadpolehood. He (or she?) is very low maintenance, and, miraculously, has managed to remain alive for almost three years. I'm no frog biologist, but three years seems like a long time for a frog--or at least it's a track record for me and this sort of pet. 

But I do have to wonder. 

Is Squiggles II "happy?" Does he have the capacity for happiness? I want to tell myself no, because I feel sort of bad for Squiggles II. He hasn't had a bad life, per se. This is all he's ever known. He gets fed daily, his water is cleaned, and he seems to be thriving physically by all objective measures.

But what about psychologically? 

Does he realize he's trapped? On some level he must; he tries to escape every time "we" clean his tank. And does he get sick of eating the same thing every day? For his entire life? He has eight fingers and ten toes. Is he bothered by this disparity? What about his toenails? They seem long. Does he want them cut, do you think? He'd never sit still for that.

Sometimes we'll be watching TV in the living room behind the desk where we keep Squiggles II and I'll hear chirping and bouncing around. He's nocturnal (I think, because this is when I hear him) and he swims around a lot and makes a ton of froggy sounds, and all I can think of is to go over there and whisper into his internal frog ears that there's no point.

Like, there is no one to hear him ribbit. No froggy mate is going to heed his call. He's just going to die here alone. We could get another tadpole to keep him company, I suppose, but they'd be so far apart in age that Squiggles II would probably eat the new arrival before they even got to know each other.

In the grand scheme of things, I realize none of this matters. Children are literally out in the streets today demanding not to get shot in school by weapons proliferated by Congress and their war-mongering corporate overlords while the President of the United States pays hush money to porn stars and can't spell "Marine Corps."

So there are bigger problems. I get that. That being said, I just hope Squiggles II is having a happy life and doesn't have a crippling case of froggie nihilism like I would if I were him.

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