1. The characteristic harsh sound made by a duck. – Oxford Dictionaries1
2. *curls up into a ball hoping the horrible flashbacks will go away* – The Nut
Not long after Nutty Hubby and I first became an item, I told him I was leaving him.
For another country. Because I had somehow managed to convince five grad schools in the UK that I was primo master’s degree material, and generally in order to attend grad school in the UK, you kind of have to move to the UK.
Nutty Hubby and I had known going into our relationship that long distance would most likely be involved, but with me being 5 for 5 on acceptance letters there was no longer any doubt: one way or another, I was heading across the pond that fall.
All that remained was to choose my poison. After careful deliberation – and resisting the urge to just pick Cambridge because holy shit Cambridge wants me – I opted for the one with the most interesting program. Which meant that in October of that year, I would be moving to the charming city of York and attending its university, which was situated around a man-made lake.
That lake would become the center of my universe. My bedroom window looked out onto it. I walked around it, alongside it and over it to and from my classes and almost everywhere else.
And there were birds, birds as far as the eye can see.
I was excited about the birds. At any given time, the university is called home by countless geese, ducks, grebes, moorhens and coots, as well as a small population of mute and black swans. I wanted to photograph them all.
One of my flatmates, Gordon, had already been resident at the university for several years and was less impressed by the campus’ avian population.
“Just you wait,” he laughed, shaking his head at my enthusiasm as I ran outside yet again with my camera. “Their charm will wear pretty thin soon enough, just you wait.”
I didn’t understand the full meaning of those words until it was too late. I shrugged off Gordon’s warning, attributing it to his customary cynicism, and went about my routine blissfully ignorant of the horrors to come.
- Wake up to sound of geese honking outside bedroom window.
- Get up, use tiny student housing bathroom that is basically just a big shower with a toilet and sink in it, get dressed.
- Leave flat, doing best to dodge the omnipresent goose shit in the courtyard.
- Get hissed at at least three times when dodging results in getting too close to the producers of the shit for their liking.
- Walk along lake path to class, intermittently followed by ducks looking for handouts.
- Spot a grebe diving down into the lake for something tasty.
- Get hissed at by more geese, for no particular reason.
- Wave hello to Canada geese grazing on hill outside lecture hall. Get politely stared at in response.
- Attend classes.
- Return to flat via lake path, get hissed at some more.
- Encounter Ebenezer, the crotchety black swan who’s constantly pissed off because he’s the only swan on the lake without a girlfriend. Skritch Ebenezer affectionately on the neck, prompting him to turn his back and swim off somewhere to pout some more.
- Reach flat, stop outside and attempt to get as much goose shit off shoes as possible before entering.
- Enter flat, go to kitchen to try and heat something up for dinner without touching layer of grime covering all surfaces, all the while cursing flatmates for being such slobs.
- Hear tapping at window. See ducks looking expectantly for more handouts.
- Ignore ducks.
- Hear stronger tapping at window. Ebenezer has wedged awkwardly large body into space formerly occupied by ducks and is following their lead.
- Toss Ebenezer a bread crust because he looks so pitiful.
- Eat dinner in room to avoid hungry, sorrowful eyes.
- Repeat for one year.
For a while, I thought that was all there would be. Sure, all the honking was a bitch when you were trying to sleep in on a Saturday morning, and the wait for the universally adored “poo man” to come around and clear the paths on his little crap Zamboni sometimes seemed interminable, but this was paradise compared to apartment living in Vancouver. I’d take a flock of noisy geese over city traffic and ambulances screeching by at 3am any day.
Then winter came, and with it, the day I suddenly understood Gordon’s lack of enthusiasm for the birds.
The lake had iced over and a thin layer of powdery snow coated everything, goose waste and all. Charmed by the beauty of the glittering landscape, I immediately broadcasted my Canadian status by willingly going out and just sitting in the cold, breathing the crisp air and taking in the idyllic scene.
That’s when the frantic quacking began.
The ice was thick enough to hold the weight of the local ducks, and they liked to hang out in a certain corner of it near the cafeteria, just in case anyone was feeling generous.
I looked over to this corner, which was the source of the current quacking, and that’s when I got my first big eyeful of duck rape.
It would not be my last.
Male ducks are assholes, y’all. I can’t even begin to explain their magnitude of assholery. If you ever get reincarnated as a female duck, know now that you did something horribly, horribly awful in your past life, because you’ve basically just been brought back as a walking vagina as far as the male duck is concerned.
Male ducks are such unrelenting rapists that the female duck’s genitalia has evolved into a maze-like structure of false turnings and dead ends, because that is her only way of conveying to the males, other than quacking, that she is NOT OKAY WITH ALL THE RAPING.
The male ducks, in response, just evolved a bigger, longer, more terrifying penis, for bigger and better raping.
I would learn all this later. In the moment, I just stood there, mouth agape, as what started out as a one on one duck rape turned into a 3 on 1 all-out duck gangbang, with the poor female completely unable to get away or even move as they forced themselves on her because the ice beneath her gave her zero traction.
And there was nothing I could do for her.
I couldn’t watch. I went back inside and made myself a cup of tea to give myself something to do.
Gordon wandered in, looking for a snack. He saw my face. “What’s with you?”
“Holy shit, man, ducks are ASSHOLES!”
“Ah.” He nodded sagely and began rummaging in his cupboard. “Finally saw your first duck rape, did you?”
“I used to feed those bastards. Never again. I thought ducks were cute, Gordon. WHY DO WE TEACH CHILDREN THAT DUCKS ARE CUTE?”
“If you think that’s bad, go Google duck penises. You won’t be disappointed.”
Against my better judgement, I did.
I have never wanted to kick a duck so much in my life.
People, I love animals. And I love nature. And normally, I don’t believe in interfering. I can watch a crocodile snap a gazelle’s neck or a pride of lions bring down a zebra on TV and go, “Okay, that’s sad for the gazelle/zebra, but that’s just how things work.”
But duck rape is where I draw the line. There are plenty of other duck species who pass on their genes perfectly well without all the raping.
Not long after my eyes had been opened to the wide world of nonconsensual duck sex, I came upon another female quacking and stumbling and flapping wildly in a desperate attempt to escape being assaulted by a male who was determined to either mount her or kill her, judging by the hold he had on her neck.
They were right in the middle of the path. My kicking foot started to itch.
I looked around me. No witnesses.
I didn’t kick him.
I wanted to, but I didn’t. Mostly because I didn’t want the university to expel me if the duck went and tattled that I had booted one of its precious waterfowl, but also because deep down I knew it wasn’t really his fault he was a rapey little bastard. There’s no community of duck bros retweeting every post hashtagged #NotAllDucks, or claiming the lady duck was asking for it because she spent so much time preening her tailfeathers.
So I forgave his tiny duck brain its bad wiring, and the urge to cause him bodily harm faded away.
I did, however, run towards him flapping my arms and screaming and generally scaring the living bejeezus out of him until he forgot about his pursuits of the flesh and flew off as fast as his wings would take him.
The lady duck shook herself off and waddled away in a bit of daze. I felt a little better, but I knew I had just postponed the inevitable.
And the sound of quacking will always haunt me.
Today’s blog post was brought to you by the letter Q, the number 3 vs 1, and the QuackMeansQuack Challenge, AKA the Blogging A to Z Challenge.
1 “quack.” OxfordDictionaries.com. Oxford Dictionaries, 2015. Web. 20 April 2015.