Yesterday we lost one of the great icons of our generation: the swirling hair, the chiseled nose, the ultra-femininity will be forever remembered and emulated. I am talking of course about Michael Jackson. When you come from a large family you realize very early on that it defies the odds to have an entire family that isn’t odd. Michael Jackson seemed destined for a wild ride; all the ingredients were there: a nutty family, incredible early success, recovering from the incredible success only to have incredibler success, ambiguous sexuality that was never defined one way or the other, an affinity for exotic pets… The list goes on and on.
Unfortunately for the poor guy, it was like he gave everyone in the world press a microscope, and said, “Wow! Check THIS out!” And then he seemed genuinely surprised when the front pages were plastered with him holding a baby out a window. If it were my dad holding me out the window, and you saw it, yes, you would say, “HEY YOU! Don’t hold that baby out that window! Are you NUTS? Can’t you see my car down there??”
Since Michael Jackson, Madonna and I are the same age, I guess I have sort of followed their careers as I secretly gloated about being the only one who has not had extensive plastic surgery (although I do have a large plastic screw in my knee).
Incidentally, Stevie Wonder is the only remaining original artist still signed to Motown.
So we found a duckling rolling down the street like a tumbleweed at the bottom of our driveway. The whole concept of walking seemed relatively far-fetched to this thing; it could perambulate only by lying on its back and wiggling everything that moved until it pitched in one direction or the other 5 or 6 inches. Even when it was upright on its legs its main focus seemed to be to get back on its back and flail around again. We assumed was a duck. If it looks like a duck, talks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s a duck, but this thing walks like a flounder. We figured that if this one is representative of the species, it is unlikely to evolve one iota. It seems dumb as a post, and would never last in the wild. So we did what we used to do when we were kids, and stuck it in a shoebox with some grass. With an awl we poked holes in the top of the shoebox for air. One thing to remember is to remove the duck before doing this, as we almost found out the hard way.
We put a large ashtray filled with water into the shoebox, until we learned online at one of the many duck-raising sites that this thing can apparently drown in a quarter inch of water. Which made me wonder how you could possibly childproof its home in the wild. On the plus side, after drinking from an ashtray, I doubt it will ever take up smoking.
We consulted a friend who is a duck expert, herself having raised many ducks from scratch. On her advice we found a lamp to provide warmth. According to her it was either that or let the duck sleep in bed with us. Anyone who owns a car windshield will realize that that is out of the question.
So I guess the idea is to nurse the thing along for a little while, and see if it will do anything that would lead you to believe it could survive more than a half hour.
I think deep down we picture a possible future reunion, like Born Free, where we return and visit the duck in its natural habitat, and it writhes toward us on its back, occasionally rolling a few inches or propelling itself in circles with one leg. I don’t think either of us believes it will ever learn to swim- maybe a dog paddle at best.
Remember: If you love something, set it free. If it was meant to return to you, and it gets around as slow as this duck does, we’ll be here all friggin’ day.
Incidentally, ducks’ feet have no blood vessels or nerves, which is why they don’t get cold swimming in the winter like those idiots in the Polar Bear Club. It also explains why Donald Duck never noticed that he wasn’t wearing pants.
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