A Tale of a Duck’s Tail or a
Duck a la Orange
I was 12
years old, dressed in a costume like Donald Duck, and ready for the
Children’s Parade. As we rounded the corner from the old City Hall to go
down Main Street, I suddenly heard a popping noise. I realized that my
costume was about to fall apart from the waist down! I quickly grabbed as
much material as possible before the pillow tail-end fell from my waist to
my feet. The street, on both sides, was deep with onlookers cheering and
waving. I did the same albeit with one hand. Suddenly I had another
problem. It began to rain.
shower poured down on both my cardboard duckbill and my swim fin duck
feet. This would not have been so bad except— for a life-like color—my
mother used orange crepe paper that began to melt in front of my very
eyes. My web feet were following the same example. The bill dropped orange
spots all over the front of the white bed sheet. I looked as if I had duck
measles. But more was to come.
paper that covered my swim fin feet also began to self destruct but with
only one hand I couldn’t bend down to take the paper off and hold my
bottom on at the same time. The pillow that shaped the tail end was also
getting wet—and increasingly heavy. As the paper on the fins continued to
get soggier, it peeled off in little chunks that splattered my costume and
littered the street. I discovered later that my real feet had turned
orange too. Things were not going well at all until it got worse.
to keep everything together until the parade ended and I could call mom to
pick me up. “Nope,” she said, “Just keep holding the costume up and walk
home.” This was devastating news. Didn’t she realize I was soaking wet and
covered with orange spots, that my bill had melted leaving me with orange
lips and cheeks? I felt totally alone and embarrassed as I took the back
mother would leave her child to fen for himself under this duress but life
was different in those days. I felt abandoned, betrayed and demoralized. I
was angry, upset and on the verge of tears but I held them back. After
all, I would be a man someday. Self control, self reliance, and “grit” was
needed here, not tears. “Into each life a little rain must fall,” dad
would say. How right he was.
disasters that day, I had two great things going for me. I had a totally
sympathetic little sister who still saw her big brother as a hero, even if
he was orange all over. And I had $12 in prize money. No small sum in
those days. The three of us went out for ice cream and suddenly the day
was much brighter.
Michael F. Hansen