Duck It.

When I was in college in England I’d sometimes wander through the small village of Grantham, and that’s how I found the duck pond. And I mean “duck pond” because it was a tiny little pond about the size of an average kitchen table and it had approximately three thousand ducks in it–mostly mallards, but a few other kinds. Not that I know that much about ducks, except that, apparently, they don’t fly south for the winter, so they couldn’t bring back coconuts, but that’s another story.
Most days after lunch I’d fill my pockets with leftover bread and walk to the village and feed the ducks. I know most people say ducks aren’t that smart, and they’re right, but I think the ducks got to know me and even started to anticipate my arrival in the afternoons. When distributing bread I also tried to be fair and make sure each duck got some, and I like to think they appreciated that.
One night a group of professors and students decided to go caroling in the village and, for some reason, I was invited to come along. Let me explain the “for some reason”: I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. I seriously can’t sing at all. Maybe I could if I had some singing lessons–I’ve never tried–but I seem to lack the basic ability to at least sort of hit the right notes that other people take for granted. And most of the time I’m okay with just listening to music, and I really do love music. If you see me going to or from the bus stop in the afternoons you might see me putting an extra step into my steps because I’m dance-walking to a tune I’m listening to and maybe even lip-synching the tune even though I’ve got earbuds in so no one else can hear it. In fact I often wonder why I never see anybody with earbuds in dance-walking. Maybe they’re listening to a talk podcast, but if you’re listening to music while you’re walking don’t you ever feel the urge to dance to the tune? Sometimes, though, I wish I could sing, like when I went out with the group of carolers, and I was only there for moral support and to tell jokes.
We went through the dark village and stopped in the cozy warm light of the homes and sang at their doors. And here’s a weird thing: if you’ve seen Love Actually you know the scene where the guy goes to his best friend’s house to tell his best friend’s wife he’s in love with her and holds up this sign:

Source: Loyola Film Circle

What’s weird to me about that is that all the people whose houses we carolers, or rather the carolers and me, thought we were out collecting money for charity. They were baffled that a group would go out caroling just for fun. Maybe that changed some time between my time as a student and the release of Love Actually.
As we came to one house there was a strange sound that came out of the darkness, and a moving shadow that approached everyone singing “Good King Wenceslas” and me. The sound got louder and louder. It was all three thousand ducks and they were quacking at us which, I think, meant, “Hey, what’s up people?” We’d come to the house with the pond. I didn’t have any bread with me but I let the carolers go on while I stopped and sang to the ducks, and they all dance-walked along with me.

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13 Comments

  1. Allison

    When Matt and I were dating, we would go to Centennial Park and sit in the swings. The ducks made this quack that sounded like a laugh, and we would tell dumb jokes and wait for the laugh. Love me some ducks. And I bet they loved your singing.

    And why don’t more people dance-walk?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I know biologists have a whole laundry list of why ducks are horrible creatures but between the way they look, the way they walk, and the way they quack they just make me laugh. There is something lovable about them no matter what they do.
      And I don’t know why more people don’t dance-walk. Certain songs inevitably put a spring in my step.

      Reply
  2. The Huntress915

    Ducks are devious, they are believe me. They will fight you to the death if you get in their way. But I’m sure those ducks that walked-danced with you were cool because all three-thousand of them in the pond the size of a kitchen table were dying to do something different other than count off where their position in the pond was. As always Christopher, reading your post is a pleasure! 😉

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I know ducks are devious. They can be bad to people and they’re even worse to each other. But they still make me laugh. And most of the ducks in that little pond were mallards, which are pretty cool looking ducks, and there were also a few coots in the group. There was one that would come right up to me and make this sad little peeping noise and was the only one that would take bread right from my hand.
      And I think they liked the novelty of human attention.

      Reply
  3. Arionis

    Love the video! Have you posted that before? It get’s the Duck Dodgers seal of approval.

    Just in case you don’t post before Friday. Happy co-birthday!
    Arionis recently posted…Just As Good As A Real OneMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I don’t think I’ve posted that video before. I made a few birthday videos for a few years and I’m glad it gets the Duck Dodgers seal of approval because it took a lot of time and work to make even if it doesn’t look like it.
      And happy co-birthday to you! I’m on my way to pay you an overdue visit too.

      Reply
  4. floatinggold

    I can’t sing to save my life, either. And I do dance-walk sometimes. Happy Belated Birthday? Yes, ducks definitely remember a lot when it comes to food. You were lucky to escape alive.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m glad to know someone else dance-walks. And the funny thing about those ducks is I think they got to know me so…oh, yes, you’re right, I am lucky I escaped alive, especially when I came around without food.
      And I appreciate the birthday wishes. Actually my birthday is the 20th, so posting that video was slightly premature.

      Reply
      1. floatinggold

        Happy pre-Bday, then.
        (Side note: I discovered your blog because I just read your story in the Static Dream anthology vol. 2. Good read.

        Reply
  5. floatinggold

    Happy pre-Bday, then.
    (Side note: I discovered your blog because I just read your story in the Static Dream anthology vol. 2. Good read.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Fantastic! I hope to get to your story soon. I’m still reading volume 1. I may have to skip ahead a bit. As you can see I’m currently catching up on things.

      Reply
  6. Ann Koplow

    I love ducks, dance-walking, singing-walking, and your blog, Chris.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I love that knowing what we share makes me feel a little less alone.

      Reply

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