I hate ducks. I've always disliked them, but after today, they're my "Enemy Number One."
Every year my wife's playgroup holds a family picnic. You know, a "come and meet the rest of the family" kind of shindig. I'm pretty sure it's more a chance for the wives to put a face to the various names we husbands have been gossiped about all year, but Hannah and the kids enjoy it, so I make the effort to attend.
This year's picnic commenced at 11am. It was being held at Centenary Park. No, the other Centenary Park--one hour's drive away. Apparently it has a better playground and is "just prettier."
We piled the three cherubs into the family Magna and set off with surprising ease. Maybe the day wouldn't be as bad as I was anticipating. Please God, let it be so, please please please.
"Honey, did you say something?" Hannah looked as beautiful today as when we married eleven years ago; the pastel pink and green dress, her hair straight and flowing over her full-figured but gorgeous shoulders, her beaming smile. Perhaps God had heard my prayers after all. I turned to reciprocate…
"…because if you're muttering to yourself about how much you hate these picnics, I don't want to hear it!
"Dad I need air."
"Sure squirt, no problem."
Problem. The aircon refused to start. Never mind, we're almost there.
Two painfully long, sweaty hours later--don't ask--we arrived. Hannah grabbed the thermos and ran to Di, her BFF and fellow "Yummy Mummy." Ten minutes later I joined them, the myriad picnic paraphernalia clunking onto the rug.
"Oh, honey, you'll never guess what's happened."
Did I want to hear this?
"I thought Di was going to bring the coffee and we were to bring the thermos of water."
"Apparently she thought it was the other way around. Isn't that funny?!"
"We have two thermoses and no coffee!" Their raucus laughter attracted the bemused attention of all at the park.
I was still at the point of denial. No caffeine? Dear Lord, give me strength.
"Daddy! Look, ducks!" said Pippa.
"Oh daddy, can we go feed the ducks?! Please can we?!" said Jonathon.
"Uck! Uck!" babbled Eli.
"Not today, kids."
I could feel Hannah's "Why not?" eyes boring into my skull.
"I mean, they just don't look hungry."
I looked at my soulmate with desperation, willing for her to recall my deep-seated fear of any bird bigger than a canary.
Apparently ESP is not our strong suit.
With great enthusiasm she threw me a bag of waterlogged tomato sandwiches. Suddenly I was the pied piper of Centenary Park, with kids flocking from all directions, eager to feed the local--feral--wildlife.
Okay. Just give the bag to the kids and stand back, no worries.
I waved back at Hannah. Yep, I was a dad in total control.
"No, honey, watch out!"
"What?" Before I could say another word I was attacked by… this… pterydactyl, its beak ripping open the bag that I was still grasping!
Make a choice, Steve: "fight or flight?"
A few days later Hannah read aloud from the Courier Post.
"Fun was had by everyone, including dad Steve Smith, who may be nursing a bruised ego after taking on the resident gander of Centenary Park, Major."
"You're making it up," Steve's ego was indeed a little damaged.
I just thank God no photographer was present.
"Here, read for yourself." Hannah stifled a laugh as she passed the paper to Steve. There, in full colour was a large photo of him crawling out of the pond, his slightly-balding head covered in slimy gunk, glistening in the sunlight. Below this, the humiliation continued; a series of smaller photos detailed the entire event--duck charging--Steve running--duck biting his rear end--Steve tripping and falling head-first into the pond.
There was only one thing for it.
Rose O'Leary sorted the mail sitting on her desk. Intruiged, she opened the cream envelope from Mr. S. Smith. With a wry smile she read the enclosed card, smiling at the lone duck adorning its cover.
"Dear Ms O'Leary,
Thank you so much for your thorough article on our playgroup picnic.
We would like thank you by inviting you to a small dinner party we're hosting next Wednesday.
Steven and Hannah Smith
PS: the main course will be…
Duck a l'Orange!
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