Monday, October 30, 2006

The penguiduck

We have all heard of so-called ‘hybrid’ or ‘alloy’ animals, in other words animals which are bred from two different species. Who doesn’t remember the ‘cabbit’ (cat and rabbit) or the ‘weagle’ (weasel and eagle) from the news about twenty-five years ago. Or how about the lesser-known ‘mooose’ (?) or the ‘platypus’ (??) from even longer ago. It’s a fascinatingly little-studied field of study.

Our local “legend” is called the ‘penguiduck’, and up until recently was considered just that, a legend. A new discovery in a cave on the shore of Lake Hecksapoppin in the North Hecksapoppin Valley, British Columbia appears to have elevated the legend of the penguiduck into the possibility of the penguiduck, and possibly even the probability of the penguiduck.

In a story that I will be posting later, the Canadian Institute of the Theoretical Sciences has announced the discovery of a Haida painting of what looks like a penguin. The painting appears to be quite old and although it’s location is unusual, there is so far nothing to indicate that it is a fake. It is with this bit of information that I visited the town archives, which are unusually extensive, especially in the preservation of native lore. Unfortunately most of this lore has never been transcribed and is hand-written and so it took three weeks of eye-straining, head-pounding “effort”, but I found something. In 1958 a member of the Hecksapoppin Historical Society interviewed an older native man named Lewis LaGroupé who told a story he had been told by his father about his grandfather. When his grandfather had been a young man, which had probably been in the mid-1880’s, he had gone ‘duck-netting’, which is where the natives used large nets to live capture ducks. According to Mr. LaGroupé, his grandfather and his friends happened on a colony of “the ugliest darn ducks you ever saw”. They didn’t catch any but they did notice that the ugly ducks didn’t fly away but rather they toddled off into the surrounding brush with a curious rolling gait. This was the only mention I could find, but it was enough.

As it happens this incident took place at the head of the lake, which is now a public beach and park, and as I had a couple of days to spare (being extra-capable, time-management-wise) I figured a penguiduck hunt was in order. Option-wise I figured I had two ways I could go about it. I could take the holistic approach to this situation, by which I mean the complete pattern of any given situation can be gleaned by the observation of seemingly unrelated incidents. For example, the flapping of an elk’s ear in Nunuvut will influence an earthquake in China. Bizarre, but just check the newspapers. It’s a fact! It’s science. Upon careful consideration I decided to go with my second, and more traditional option, whereby I set up a duck-blind, or a penguiduck-blind if you prefer, although I am a little uncomfortable with calling it a penguiduck -blind in case folks begin mistaking it for the John Cleese character from the movie ‘Yellowbeard’. Of course John’s character’s name was actually ‘Blind Pew’ (pronounced ‘Blind Pew’) but I still think it would be kind of distracting if people kept coming up and asking for autographs, thinking that my penguiduck -blind is actually a famous English comedic actor. I think it would sort of ruin the whole being inconspicuous thing which, as I understand it, is the entire point of a duck, or in this case, a penguiduck -blind.

Another thing that made the whole inconspicuous thing kind of difficult was when one of our local hardly incompetent at all building inspectors appeared as I was assembling the penguiduck -blind. I was ignoring him at first because I usually don’t have much time to spare for self-important little wanks sucking on huge cigars. Eventually I got tired of the little goon poking at me. “What the f**k do you want?” I asked politely.

“You got a permit for this structure?” he asked, waving a freshly signed Stop Work Order at me.

“Bag off, scrunch-mutt,” I said, “I’ve never bought into that Commie crap. Besides, this ‘structure’ is a cardboard box.

“Yeah, yeah,” muttered the little wank as he took a puff on his cigar, ‘that makes no nevermind anyways. You know there, guy, for a small consideration I could be convinced to look the other way, if you know what I mean.”

“Oh, yeah!” I said, “I hear you! What you’re saying is that if I give you a couple of bucks or something, you won’t hit me with that there Stop Work Order, right?”

The wank nodded. “Well you could have been a little more subtle, but yeah, you’ve got it.” He sucked on his stogie, a small smile on his face.

I adopted a look of confusion which had been wandering by. “But I already gave five bucks to one of your colleagues,” I lied. “He came by a couple of minutes ago.”

The wank choked on his cigar. “What?” he grunted, “What’d he look like?”

I shrugged. “He was a dumpy little brute. Greasy hair hanging all over his face and his clothes were all stiff with dried sweat and mucus. Oh, and he was smoking a cigar.”

“Huh,” commented the wank as he swiped his greasy hair away from his face. “That could be any of the guys. I’ll get back to you.” He turned and waddled off, stuffing the Stop Work Order into a pocket.

I wedged myself into the penguiduck -blind. It was snug but once inside I began to observe what was going on around me. Did you know that the ******* and District Dog Walking Cabal use the Hecksapoppin Beach Park walk every morning to walk their dogs? I haven’t been peed on that much in about ten years, but you can get used to almost anything, I suppose. Besides it really wasn’t all that bad. Your average Yorky or Dachshund can’t pee very high, so it was only the toes of my runners getting damp. Then someone came along with a Great Dane. Who in their right minds owns a Great Dane? They’re huge, skinny, and they have the calm disposition of a sugarcoated Chihuahua. Oh, and when they pee it’s about three feet (say, a meter) from the ground. Needless to say, this was not an experience I wanted to… experience. Fortunately I had come prepared. Not for the dog pee you understand, as that had come as a bit of a surprise. I had, however, in a fit of whimsy brought along a one meter (about three feet) length of one inch (2.5 cm) doweling so I could poke at the bike riders and joggers when I got bored. Well when the Great Dane lifted his leg I wasn’t bored but I was inspired to jab the mutt in the ‘nads (he wasn’t altered, if you know what I mean.) It went well. I jabbed, he got a Scooby-doo look of puzzlement on his mug, but instead of saying, “uh a eck!” as Scooby-doo would have, he just howled off down the beach. Oh yeah, he livened up a whole bunch. Too bad I can’t say the same for the old guy in the wheelchair four-wheeling along behind him, but I suppose that will teach him to clasp the leash directly to his chair without some sort of emergency release device.

That was about it for the day. I whacked a few of the smaller dogs that came near, but after the excitement of the Great Dane, terrier and poodle stories seem kind of weak. Mind you, it’s still a hoot. Not enough of a hoot to get me out there again any time soon though. I’ve spent enough time in a box for anybody, especially in a penguiduck-free area like the public beach I was at. I’ll get the info on what started this whole adventure and post it ASAP.

Anyway… Humouroceros

Artists conception of a 'penguiduck'


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