Friday, September 13, 2013

Rubber Duckies, You’re the Ones: How to Freak People Out in 178 Easy Steps

Years ago, I went to a friend’s house in California and saw his rubber duckie bathroom. There were dozens of ducks, tastefully arranged, with a rubber duckie shower curtain, rug, cup, toothbrush holder, the works. I decided that one day, I would have a rubber duckie bathroom.

When my partner and I moved into our house, I turned the hall bathroom into the rubber duckie bathroom of my dreams. Ducks on the walls, ducks on the towels, ducks on the tub, ducks on shelves, ducks on rugs, ducks on ducks. This didn’t last long. Our housekeeper said that that was her least favorite room to clean. Why? Because of all the ducks. Too much to clean. She was cleaning every single one.

The ducks had to go.

My office has a long, long windowsill. Everyone around me knows that I collect duckies, and they they got kicked out of my house. But no one truly understands “the duck thing” until they come into my office.

What do you expect when you walk into a guy’s office? Some geek stuff, maybe some pictures, maybe some sports stuff, some toys and gadgets, a few collectibles. Drawings and paintings by kids, a poster or two.

I doubt you expect to find 178 rubber duckies staring you in the face, plus a giant Darth Tater Mr. Potato Head wearing a pink-and-purple Pretty Pretty Princess tiara, a teddy bear holding a giant peep toy, and a dozen or so mutant potato heads. You’d probably be surprised that there is also a piece of Fight Club fan art over my desk, along with a variety of flying pig sculptures and my emergency knitting bag emblazoned with the numbers of my NASCAR drivers (Mark Martin, Dale Jr.).

Any time a new visitor comes in my office, it’s a 100% certainty that they will stop in their tracks and look at the ducks, look at me, look back at the ducks. The next thing out of their mouths is almost always, “That’s a lot of ducks.” If they look more closely, they’ll see little stories and grouping and dioramas among the ducks. The braver ones will make a closer inspection, or pick up the ducks and start looking at them. Some will tell me stories of their kids and their ducks. The ones that are a little weirded out will try not to look at them and utterly fail, because really, what can you do when 356 eyes are staring at you?

These things are my sanity savers, and much as they deny it, they do the same for other people in the building, because I’ll come in and find ducks rearranged, potato heads with light sabers and tongues sprouting out of their heads, and smeared dust on the shelves. It’s ok. I’ll share my toys.

To quote one of the Doctors, “What’s the use of being a grown-up if you can’t be childish once in a while?”

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