The Frog That Lays Golden Eggs

The three-legged "Money Toad."
The three-legged “Money Toad.”

When we awoke this morning, M. realized there was very little coffee, only enough to fill a quarter of a pot. We drained it, and stepped out to replenish our supply with a new canister of Colombian brew.

On the way back from the grocery store, we swung by the neighborhood Chinese takeout to pick up some veggie spring rolls. As we waited for our order to arrive, I began to play with a stout, golden frog—one of the many ornaments that adorn Chinese eateries—sitting on the counter. I kept turning it round and round and round on its swivel.

All of a sudden, the restaurant phone began to bleat loudly. The hostess hurried from the back of the kitchen to answer it. Cradling the receiver, she looked askance at the lustrous reptile. Solemn-faced, she turned it away from the entrance, and towards the wall, against which rested a 50-pound jade Laughing Buddha.

At that point, it struck me that I wasn’t playing with a mere shiny toy, but a highly revered cultural totem. I’ve learned that it’s called the Jin Chan, a popular Feng Shui charm for prosperity, which popularly translates as “Money Toad.”

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