And now, the news most fowl and furry

I don’t know about you, but I get a little tired of following the news day in and day out, night in and night out, and seeing that it would appear, from the overwhelming bulk of it, that anything newsworthy has something to do with people.

People doing the crime, people making the laws, people breaking the laws, people waging the wars, people making the peace … people, people, people, people.

Bores me to death, to tell you the truth. Motley bunch of attention-mongers, aren’t we?

Having spent some years in the news business, I know that while people may be the root cause of most of each day’s news – few do anything really interesting when they make it.

Take, for example, an event such as … 5,000 people crossing the street. Stop the presses to report it? Interrupt the afternoon talk shows to break the news? Hardly.

On the other hand, say it was 5,000 …

If it walks like 5,000 ducks, if it quacks like 5,000 ducks, it must be …

… ducks, Yes, you read me right – DUCKS. Now THAT’S news.

A few roads in the Chinese city of Taizhou today were jammed when a farmer relocated his enormous flock of ducks to a nearby pond, with help from only a long wooden pole and a couple of assistants. According to local media, the farmer boasted that he didn’t lose a single duck on the three-quarters-of-a-mile journey.

Just him, a few assistants and a stick moved 5,000 ducks? And he didn’t lose one? Amazing. Try that with an entire day-care staff and 5,000 kids and I’ll bet you’ll lose a couple hundred.

And, of course, that story would lead the evening TV news. See what I mean? Sheesh.

Here’s another example. Say, you’re playing softball at the local park. While making a no-seeum throw to the plate, stopping that tying run from scoring and making the last out, you feel the urge to purge.

Game over and you run off the field and straight to a big plastic porta-poo booth – the only one in the park. You reach for the door handle, give it a tug and it’s … locked, a.k.a. in use. And you’re sure it’s the same guy you saw go in, two innings ago. Do you call the local TV news station and get yourself into the 11 p.m. lineup? I doubt it.

But, let’s say you’re a Canadian black bear, sitting outside an occupied outhouse in the forests of Winnipeg? Maybe at a picnic table, calmly waiting your turn, like the well-mannered, sophisticated fellow below …

A picture-perfect picture of patience …

Now, you’ve been patient. Though Gord Shurvell, a 65-year-old Winnipeg man staying with friends in a nearby hunting cabin, has been in there since you arrived. Well, you have to go, but you don’t have to go that bad. You can wait.

Seconds tick to minutes, which clump into many minutes. You gotta go – now. Gord’s got to be finished, for holy Molson’s sake. So why the hell is he still farting around in there?

“I’d already done my business,” Shurvell recalled, when suddenly an angry black bear entered the outhouse, grabbed him and dragged him half-naked into the woods. “All the [defense] I had was a … piece of [toilet] paper in this hand.”

A friend heard the commotion, got his gun and shot the bear. Oh and I’ll bet that’s what those Canadian reporters thought was the news.



It’s me … or the box

The first thing I want to say here is I love my wife very much, nearly every minute of every day.

Now, that said, the second thing I want to say is during some of the other minutes I haven’t got a clue as to why she does some of the things she does. Or how things that happen to her, happen to her. We’ve been together some 20-something (All right, all right, so I can never remember exactly how many, so shoot me. I’m a writer, not a mathematician.) years and still she can, frankly, astound me.

Fortunately, these things have a way of working out, even if I don’t know how they will at the time. And also I’m not the kind of person who likes to lose his cool, much. I tend to go with the flow, figure there has to be a grander plan, a bigger picture, that maybe I just not seeing yet.

Well Lord, I’m still looking. Really, really, really looking.

Most of these occurrences usually have something to do with stray animals. Some people seem to go around in life with a “Kick Me” sign on their backs. My wife has a “Pick Me” sign on hers, scratched out in every stray animal dialect unknown to man.

Let’s just say if she’d been the booking agent for Noah’s ark, the damn thing would have sunk before it ever left the dock.

Like the time she came home from the car wash with a behemoth of a black cat that, in the right light, could be mistaken for a half-grown Labrador Retriever. So I ask her how is it that you, and only you, can go to the car wash and come home with a clean car and a cat. They having some kind of weird special or something?

No, she said. You see, I was walking to the dumpster to throw away the garbage from my car when this guy comes up with this cat and starts to throw it in there. So I say whoa, wait a minute, is that your cat? And he said no and then he said, yeah, you wanna buy it? So I grab the cat and run to the car and take off. Can we go inside now, in case the guy is still following me?

See what I mean.

I’ve let, er, welcomed, into my house, just about every living furry thing there is. Some have stayed, some have left, and most have chewed, mangled, and destroyed just about everything in it. I may not know why they get in, but I do know how they get in.

Never trust anyone like my wife, who comes into your house carrying a box.

Boxes have things in them. Live things. I’ve seen kittens, cats, puppies, everything but rodents come out of the boxes brought into my house. Even ducks. Yes, ducks. Quack-quack-give-my-head-a-whack web-footed water fowl.

“Those are ducks.”

“Yes, they’re little baby ducks, aren’t they cuuuuute?”

“Those are ducks.”

“I’ve always wanted to have them. We can keep them in the spare bedroom and raise them and teach them how to swim in the bathtub.”

“Those are ducks.”

The ducks have moved on, I can say now. However, I’m not so sure about me.

So, you can imagine my delight the other day when my wife walked into the house. With a box in her arms. And a big smile on her face.

“That’s a box.”

“I know, I’m so haaaaaappy.”

“And I’m so scaaaaaaaaared.”

“Oh, it’s not an animal. It’s Winston.”

“What’s a Winston.”

“It’s Winston, my puppet!”

This is a Winston.

And out of the box comes Winston. A neon yellow-and green, happy-faced turtle with a red bowtie and a marked resemblance to a cute little muppet. But this one doesn’t live on Sesame Street. He lives on my street.

A hand-puppet. Just a harmless, non-living, not real turtle hand-puppet. And I don’t even have to teach it how to swim in the bathtub.

All right, I can live with a puppet, I thought to myself. I mean, how bad can a turtle puppet be? He doesn’t eat anything. He doesn’t chew anything. He doesn’t … do anything.

What harm can a little stuffed thing with a hole in it, suitable for hiding an arm, do that hasn’t already been done in my house? That hasn’t already been done to me?

“Winston wants to say hello to you.”

“Hello Winston. Now go away, Winston.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m trying to write, Winston.”

“What are you writing?”

“I’m writing and I … I … can’t believe I’m actually talking to a freakin’ stuffed turtle! With an arm stuck up its butt! Now go away, Winston, and take that arm and the crazed woman attached to it with you.”

“You’re not being very nice. I think you’re trying to hurt my feelings. Are you trying to hurt my feelings?”


A duck! A duck! My kingdom for a duck!