When I was growing up, we had the best security system of anyone on our street. No, it wasn't some fancy system that automatically calls the fire department when you burn the cookies, or a door with a three inch dead-bolt, or even a guard dog. No, at my house we had a guard goose.
I know. It doesn't sound very scary. But have you ever had a goose chase after you? First it stares you down with those big beady eyes. Then it starts bobbing its head forward and back. Next, it ruffles its feathers and starts taking steps towards you. It's intimidating. In fact, I think the next breakthrough in national security will be using geese to help in terrorist interrogations. Just lock them in a room with a cocky goose. They'll talk. And if they don't, the goose will peck their eyes out. Slowly.
It was after a near death experience with a goose that I realized their value. I was in the park with my friends when a huge goose was blocking my path. Now, granted, the vast majority of living creatures in the world seem huge when you don't even reach the five-foot mark, but that's beside the point. My friends refused to go past him. Finally, I volunteered to be the brave one. He went through his little routine. As he took his first steps towards me, I ran to the side, hoping to avoid him. He kept chasing me, and I kept running, while my friends laughed at me. Some friends. I ran home, certain the deadly goose was behind me the whole way. I ran in the house and slammed the door.
"Goose... Big.... Scary."
My mom laid her had on my forehead. "Are you feeling okay?" she asked.
"Ask me that again," I panted, "when I haven't been chased down by a goose. Is he still out there?"
My mom chucked as she walked to the window. "Oh, come on. He can't be that.... Oh. Wow."
The goose kept pacing our yard, bobbing his head and scaring off anyone who dared to venture near.
"He's got to go," I firmly stated. I grabbed a loaf of bread and headed out the door. "Wish me luck, mom. Just don't say I was killed by a goose in the obituary, okay?" I walked outside and the goose stopped his routine. He looked at me with his head cocked to the side. He looked almost... well.... cute. I'm not exactly sure when I lost my senses, but my next actions confirmed that I had indeed lost them. "Come here, my goosey little friend," I cooed. He walked towards me and started pulling the loaf of bread from my hand. I reached out a timid hand and pet him on his back. "I think I'll call you Gerald."
My mom must have thought I had been out there too long, because the next thing I heard was my mom's voice.
"Honey? Are you okay? Do you need this?"
I turned towards my mom and doubled over in laughter. She had my dad's catcher's mask on, my brother's hockey goalie pads, and my dad's catcher's mitt on one hand. With the other she held out my bike helmet to me.
"I'm fine, mom. In fact, I think he likes me," I said, my arm draped around Gerald. My mom slowly approached us, but Gerald stared his intimidation routine again, sending Mom into the house screaming. Somehow I convinced my mom we needed Gerald, even if I was the only one who could approach him without risking life and limb. In fact, that was my main argument.
"Just think, Mom. If anyone tries to rob us, Gerald will save us."
"I hardly think a goose could do that."
"Mom, what dogs are you afraid of?"
"You mean, not Rottweilers, nor Pit Bulls, nor German Shepherds?"
"And yet, you're afraid of a simple goose."
We looked outside. A crowd had gathered across the street. They were staring at Gerald as he was ruffling his feathers and bobbing his head, staring them down, and doing a great job of performing what I now call "The Gerald Shuffle." Now, anyone who approaches our house has to face Gerald. That is, if they don't step in his special brand of fertilizer first. Do you think it's a coincidence we're the only family one our street that hasn't had a break-in? Just ask Gerald.
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