Last Duck March of 2011

I spent New Year’s Eve alone in downtown Memphis watching five ducks parade down a red carpet. Before you feel sorry for me, let me reassure you I had other options. I could have gone with the guys and watched Vandy take on Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl.

Me and football? Nah. I don’t like football.

I didn’t want to ruin the game for them. Plus, I like alone time. I like thinking my own thoughts, and Memphis possesses just the right ambience for writing.

I had no transportation, a little money, and a notebook. I was set. I found a safe spot at the foot of W.C. Handy’s statue in the park and let my stream of consciousness form words on the page. I would have made William Faulkner mighty proud.

I made the trip to Memphis to rediscover myself. Amidst my recent tragedy, I misplaced my goals, my dreams, my desires. But in Memphis they began to trinkle back, one by one as I listened to music drift in and out of one doorway then another.

The blues has a way of cutting to the core and making people move. You have to do something when you hear the blues. You just can’t be. You have to be something. I searched for what I was.

The first word that came to mind was crazy. My friends warned me not to go alone. They said I’d end up getting mugged or worse.

Nonsense. But a quick scan of a vendor’s wares reminded me how naïve I can be. For five bucks I could buy  a rhinestone Glock belt buckle. If I were in the wrong place at the wrong time, say just a couple streets over behind the Fed Ex, I could buy the farm.

I wasn’t afraid, but I wasn’t stupid either. I set my radar on high alert.

The wind picked up and rustled my pages. It was too chilly to stay outside much longer. I figured I might as well do a little shopping (loosely translated looking), so I headed to the Peabody Hotel to check out the boutiques, terribly expensive but free to browse.

Somehow I found myself in the lobby, awaiting the grand event of the day—The Last Duck March of 2011.

I had heard of the Peabody Ducks, but I never took time to watch them. As the story goes, after sipping a little too much Jack Daniels, General Manager Frank Schutt let loose three live decoys in the hotel fountain. The guests fell in love with the ducks. A former Ringling Bros. animal trainer took the official position of Duckmaster and trained the ducks to walk the red carpet from their pent house abode to the marble fountain and back each day. Thus, a tradition was born.

I am a writer who searches for metaphor, another level of meaning, both in literature and in life. For some reason, The Last Duck March of 2011 stuck with me. It had to mean “something” more than just a one-time event. Where’s the serendipity in that?

So I did a little research to unearth any symbolism associated with ducks. Because ducks can run, swim, or fly to elude their enemies, they are considered resourceful. Celtic legends also depict ducks as symbols of simplicity, honesty, and sensitivity. J.D. Salinger’s Catch in the Rye relies on ducks to convey a message of the motion of life.

But what about me?

Why did I spend an hour at the Peabody Hotel, notebook in hand, waiting, waiting, waiting to watch five ducks waddle down a red carpet to an elevator door?

Oh, it was a grand to-do, mind you. I snagged optimum seating, a red chair in front of the entourage. Children and adults lined the red carpet. Everyone toyed with their cameras, checking the flashes, waiting for the special moment.

The truth is I really didn’t care about the ducks. It was something to do. I watched. They waddled. I left.

It was getting late, so I made my way to Starbucks to finish my writing with the help of a grande three-pump, nonfat, half-caf, no whip mocha. Not that I’m picky or anything.

As I waited for my drink, I cast my eyes on a small table for two. But before I could sit down, some guy staked it out by setting his backpack in one of the chairs. I took a bar seat by the window. It was just as well. I could watch the carriages roll by. I looked over my shoulder. It figured the guy would be a writer. He gripped a pen and scribbled words in his notebook.

Inspired, I took out my notebook and wrote my own words in a frenzy, page after page. Then three street kids walked in. If I had to guess they lived behind the Fed Ex Forum, which is directly across from Starbucks. If I traveled a few streets over in that direction, I bet I could find a real Glock, not like the one with Rhinestone bling on the vendor’s table.

The funny thing was I knew these kids.

These were the kids I had written about in my first manuscript and the incomplete sequel. I watched them out of the corner of my eye. Unbelievable. The characters I created were so real to me I recognized them when I saw them on the street.

That’s when it hit me, and I almost said it aloud. “I have got to get my ducks in a row.”

My metaphor.

The year 2011 was very difficult for me, but 2012 doesn’t have to be, despite what people have predicted. I can choose to make the best of my situation, and if 2012 does turn bad, at least I will have spent my days living instead of hiding.

So if I have one resolution for 2012, it’s to get my “ducks in a row.”

I will polish my manuscript and send it to the agents and editors who have requested it. I will finish my sequel and plan out my other two story ideas that await being written. I will work on my lyrics and take a chance on a few dreams.

I have to get my ducks in a row.

What’s your metaphor for 2012?

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10 thoughts on “Last Duck March of 2011

  1. I love reading your blogs…and empathized with your night. I spent the night in Nashville…downtown Nashville at that…I am one to stay away from crowds and busy celebrations…yet here I sat ….in my son’s jeep. Why? My youngest son was given tickets to a concert that night at the War Memorial Auditorium….across from TPAC. He didn’t want to drive in downtown Nashville …so I drove him. There were several places in walking distance including a starbucks…problem was…they all were closed. I sat in the Jeep 2 blocks away ringing in the new year by myself. While some might think that’s pathetic or sad…..I had time to sit and think. While others might think I was crazy or sad…I was happy. Because it brought joy to my son to be at the concert. Seeing my kids happy makes me happier than I ever am anytime else. and on the way back…we stopped and had breakfast at IHOP at 1:30 in the morning. Listening to him talk about the concert…and other things in our lives….was wonderful. So yes…I rang in the New Year alone…but doing something that made me happy. How can that be sad? It will be wonderful to rediscover joys in life this year….I can’t wish any more for you also. Good luck!!

  2. I totally understand. Alone doesn’t always equal sad. We all need a time to reflect. I love to see my kids happy too. As I was on my way to Memphis on New Year’s Eve, Josh broke down on the Interstate on the way to Murfreesboro, and there was not a thing I could do to help him. Worrying would do no good. I just had to trust that he would be okay, and he was. I am looking for renewal in 2012. I want to reclaim some things I gave up. I wish you much joy. It really means a lot to me that you took time to share your thoughts. Thank you. 🙂

  3. That’s so cool,…. when I first saw the photo and read the title (even before reading the blog itself), I said to myself, “Talk about getting your ducks in a row”. Great minds think alike. Oh, Oh, Oh — birds of a feather flock together. 🙂 I amuse myself, if not others. LOL

    I have NO doubt that 2012 is going to be an exceptional year. Those little duckies best watch out!

    My metaphor for 2012. Gonna have to give that some thought. I do LOVE seeing the glider birds (actually buzzards, but I like to call them glider birds because they are indeed majestic in spite of how they appear close up). Probably something about flying or soaring above it all – guess i’ll give it some thought as I sweat my brains out at the Rec Center…

    • I absolutely have to work on fitness this year. I am not healthy as I should be. I must go to the Rec Center. I actually feel better after I go, but I dread learning how to use the machines again. I have an honest fear I’ll kill myself on the treadmill. I’m not so coordinated. But I need to walk the track and do the weights. It’s a must. And referring back to the bird motif, I just hope I don’t “chicken” out.

  4. Happy New Year, Beautiful TEE!!! I know it will be such a great year for you as you allow yourself to enjoy the process!! Ducks/Geese are special to my husband and I. In the 90’s we lived in an apartment for awhile and couldn’t have pets. We used to go to the Truckee River and bring the ducks and geese cracked corn. We named them biblical names and they actually grew to recognize us. (You are a Red Sock fan if I recall… whatcha think of getting Bobby V as manager?)

    • Happy New Year, Kuby! It’s always a happy day when I hear from you. I have always wanted to own ducks, but we have dogs, and you can imagine how that would turn out. When I went to Gatlinburg over Thanksgiving, I walked down to the water by the Old Mill and feed the geese and then just sat on a rock and watched them.

      As for the new manager, I am just heartbroken that Francona left. I really liked him. Bobby V will definitely change things up. I’ve heard he’s pulled quite a few antics, such as getting kicked out of a game and then reappearing in the dugout in a really bad disguise. 🙂 It should be an interesting season. 🙂

  5. I use the phrase get my ducks in a row probably at least once a month if not once a week. I’m obsessed with nudging one more little duck into the row, I always imagine little yellow rubber duckies though and sliding them into place and off to my side there’s a little pile of them each with what they represent scrawled on the bottom. Everytime I move one into place the line gets longer and the pile gets smaller. My husband say I’m obsessed with those imaginary ducks, but there is nothing more thrilling or more satisfying than sliding that duck into place almost hearing a click as it finds its perfect spot in the line.

    • Funny how things just work together. We ate at Mellow Mushroom for my birthday, and there was a toy machine full of rubber duckies in a vast assortment of colors and designs. I “had” to have the green one, so Michael “won” it for me. He also “won” a gray duck that looks like my Stevie Ray cat. So I guess I now have tangible symbols to remind me of my metaphor. I can’t wait until I get at least ONE duck in its place. I’m on the right track anyway. 🙂

  6. nice writing, very insightful. I like it a lot. I come acoss this website by yahoo search engine. I may visit your site oftenly and introduce it to my neibourghhood. Please keep it updated. Keep on the good work. – A sweet girl

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