For the longest time now, i've wanted to make some duck. It's something that I am not the most familiar with, but I do enjoy it quite a bit. For whatever reason, I kept putting it off, until last week, when I decided to just go for it. Made a cherry cider and balsamic reduction to drizzle over the top and also had some potatoes and asparagus that were roasted in rendered duck fat. Pretty decadent dish, but you know, sometimes you just have to...
“You have to come over and check this out.” Those were the words coming from my best friend on the other end of the phone line. It was his birthday, and I was sure that his parents had just given him a super Nintendo. After all, it was all that I had been asking him to ask them for. I was out the door in record time, pedaling toward marioland. I don’t even think that I hung the phone up. On the way there, I thought about how much my life was about to change, how I was going to play a super Nintendo before my brothers, and how jealous that would make them; especially when I wouldn’t tell them anything about it.
When I got to his house, I knocked on the door and tried to contain my excitement. I’m sure one of his parents answered the door, but I couldn’t concern myself with such trifle things as saying hello, so I ducked under his mom/dad’s arm and ran back to his room. There he was, on his bed with his back turned to me crouching over his great new “Excalibur” of a present. I took two steps sideways to take in the glorious view of the machine that would dictate our lives for the next year, only to find that what I had come over to see was a baby yellow duck. “I named him “Mighty Duck!” said my best friend. “Do you want to hold him?” Now, of course I didn’t want to hold the duck, I wanted to escape into a land where eating mushrooms makes you bigger and where plumbers can defeat angry, hammer-throwing prehistoric turtles. I wanted to feel the sweet sting of sweat that only comes after an all-nighter of intensive 16-bit video game overload, but all I could say was “Sure.” So I reached out my hand, letting go of my hopes and embracing what did not at all resemble the second player controller. “I think it’s the best present ever!” he said. “It’s pretty great,” was my apathetic reply. What was I suppose to say to him? It was lame and that we couldn’t use it to play contra? About that moment, Mighty duck pooped on my hand. That was it; any hope this duck had of me being nice to it was over. My friend laughed and I wanted to smear my poop hand all over his face, but it was his birthday, and even I wasn’t that mean…yet.
As the duck grew, so did my hatred for him. It would follow my friend around wherever he went and he treated it as if it was his new best friend. The duck was even getting in the way of our playing “home run derby.” That was our favorite game, since we had no super Nintendo. His yard was our baseball field and it was pretty hard to hit a home run. That stupid duck was always in the way. Let’s just say that a lot of low grounders were aimed in the duck’s general direction.One particular day, we were playing a pretty good game of “derby” and I happened to notice the back gate being open. “Hey man, are you going to shut that gate?” I said. “No, Mighty duck stays right by my side, there’s no need,” he said, with an almost mocking tone. For some reason that statement burned in me like a hot ember and further fueled my resentment for that stupid duck. All the frustration of not being able to live vicariously through a present I, I mean he, had never received had finally taken it’s toll on me. I knew that the next pitch was going to be a worm- burning grounder headed for Mighty Duck. My friend wound up to throw me a fastball, and just as he was about to release the baseball, it happened. A stray dog had run into the yard from the open back gate and headed towards mighty duck. The dog grabbed the duck by the neck and ran off shaking the duck until it flapped lifelessly in the great beast’s jaws. At that moment, essentially a moment that seemed like it was orchestrated by me, the ducks arch enemy, I felt something I had not experienced before. Part of me wanted to cry (a very small part, and mostly for my friend), another part of me wanted to laugh, (because seriously, what are the odds that sweet irony would rain down so heavily upon us?) but most of me was so incredibly confused that all I could do was say, “uhhhhhh…” Sometimes I think that I felt bad because the dog beat me to the punch, but that would make me a monster; sometimes I think that I felt bad for my friend who lost one of his friends in such a horrible way; but mostly I think about how much I wanted a super Nintendo and how much I hated that duck. I guess the moral of this story is, If the dish asks you to ask for something for your birthday, solely for selfish reasons, you should probably do it, or else wild, roaming beasts may run off with your present:)