Saturday, August 6, 2011

America's Most Wanted

At the end of a really brutal week, I came home last night hoping for a glass of wine, a chance to complain, followed by some silence. By the time SB was in bed, wine had been upgraded to gin and complaining had been replaced by full-force whining. My reverie of self-pity was interrupted by Bree's ominous words: "There's something I have to tell you."

This is never a good way to start a conversation. It is rarely followed by "We won the lottery," or "I got a promotion, 200% raise, full benefits and a Hawaiian vacation." More often, the follow-up goes along the lines of "The roof collapsed," or "Your mother's moving in with us and all her belongings are in the guest room now." Last night, the news was far, far more potentially devastating.

"Baby Ducky is gone. It may be for real this time." Baby Ducky (the sleeping one, NOT the bath one) is the Animal du Jour. Like, he is IT. And while he's been ousted from bed during the Great Bed Animal Purge (making his descriptor of "the sleeping one" a bit of a misnomer), he is nonetheless, a very hot commodity.

The story seemed to be that 3 animals left for the park with Otter, but only 2 returned. This did not bode well - once the stuffed creature is out on the streets, the best one can hope for is it's not picked up by some young sociopath-in-training waiting for some unsuspecting fiber filled animal to practice his craft on. Plan B needed to be put in place immediately, since Plan A (looking for Baby Ducky come morning) seemed folly at best.

I'd like to say that I am one of those parents who has backups of the favorite animals. Or at the very least knows the manufacturer, serial number, model and make. Or even who gave the particular animal to us. Alas, all I could tell you about Baby Ducky is he was small and yellow. And while I was convinced that I knew the manufacturer, an Internet search proved that I had actually been thinking of Baby Chicken. Which isn't even something I realized - until Bree pointed it out.

Now we were really in trouble. I decided to forgo dinner, and instead, settled down to an evening of searching images of stuffed baby ducks in hopes that one of the thousands of pictures that Google inadvertently pulled up would jog my memory. Without making light of it, what followed was akin to scouring missing persons listings. I frantically scrolled through page after page of stuffed yellow ducks, occasionally saying "I think it's this one!" only to realize that no, it was not. Bree came up with a fuzzy iPhone photo, that we blew up, cropped and desperately tried to compare to the online toy ads. It was like searching age progressed backs of milk cartons for a toy duck. Still, we somehow came to a consensus that one particular duck may have been Baby Ducky's doppelganger - or at least a close enough match, if you accounted for matting, fading and lighting in the respective photos.

As the sun rose, I prepared my story. As predicted, the first question out of SB's mouth was the whereabouts of Baby Ducky. Tales of him napping, which had held her at bay the previous evening were futile. I opted for the truth: that Baby Ducky was lost, but we would go to the park to look for him. But as I walked through our park, my already-shaky faith was being broken down by the moment. If Baby Ducky had ever been in the park, he was long gone. Dejected, I turned home and began the painful "I think he's gone" explanation. Which went over surprisingly well. As soon as I made a promise of procuring a new duck, SB seemed satisfied with abandoning the search and rescue operation.

As we neared home, and just as I was wrapping my my tale of new ducks who were just like the old duck but (possibly) just a little different, I happened to glance across the street. And there, right in the roadway, was a clump of pale yellow. I dashed across. There he was! A victim of a hit and run, Baby Ducky was more grey than yellow, squished, missing an eye - BUT present and accounted for. I virtually yelped with glee. "Look, we found him! Isn't that great?!" Otter didn't miss a beat. "I don't want him," she said. "I want a new one."

Oh no - not after what I'd been through! Reassuring her that there was no need for a new duck, I high-tailed it home. A wash and dry later, Baby Ducky is almost good as new. Sure, he's half blind and probably emotionally scarred by his fiasco. But he was dragged around all day, and even accompanied Otter on a picnic. He may still be banished from bed, but he's definitely back in the fold. Welcome home, Baby Ducky!

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