Archive for February, 2007


Storytime with Duck…Short passages from great books. Part 1

February 20, 2007

Nevertheless we soon met again, but in New york City, for Lily had separated from her mother, quitted Danbury, and had a cold-water flat on Hudson Street where the drunks hid from the weather on the staircase.  I came, a great weight, a huge shadow on those stairs, with my face full of country color and booze, and yellow pigskin golves on my hands, and a ceaseless voice in my heart that sait I want, I want, I want, oh, I want — yes, go on, I said to myself, Strike, strike, strike, strike!  And I kept going on the staircase in my thick padded coat, in pigskin gloves and pigskin shoes, a pigskin wallet in my pocket, seething with lust and seething with trouble, and realizing how my gaze glittered up to the top bannister where lily had opened the door and was waiting.  Her face was round, white, and full, her eyes clear and narrowed.

“Hell!  How can you live in this stinking joint?  It stinks here,” I said.

–Saul Bellow, from Henderson the Rain King


My Chocolate Vagina on a Stick

February 9, 2007

Maude Lebowski: Does the female form make you uncomfortable, Mr. Lebowski?
The Dude: Uh, is that what this is a picture of?
Maude Lebowski: In a sense, yes. My art has been commended as being strongly vaginal, which bothers some men. The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina.
The Dude: Oh yeah?
Maude Lebowski: Yes, they don’t like hearing it and find it difficult to say, whereas without batting an eye a man will refer to his dick or his rod or his… Johnson.
The Dude: Johnson?

–“Big Lebowski”

I have a vagina made of chocolate, and I can’t give it away.

My Chocolate Vagina

The university I work for recently put on a production of The Vagina Monologues in conjunction with V-day, “a nonprofit grass roots movement dedicated to ending violence against women around the world.”

In August of 2004 my cousin was killed by her husband. Last July I sat through the bulk of his murder trial. His first murder trial, as it turns out, after the jury hung 11-1 (for conviction.) The retrial is scheduled for May, and as of now I have no idea whether I will have the time off (or the stomach) to attend again.

So I’m all for putting an end to violence against women.

And I’m all for the Vagina Monologues, although I’ve never read the book or seen a performance:

Based on interviews with over 200 women about their memories and experiences of sexuality, The Vagina Monologues gives voice to women’s deepest fantasies and fears, guaranteeing that no one who reads it will ever look at a woman’s body, or think of sex, in quite the same way again. It is witty and irreverent, compassionate and wise.

Strikes me as a very healthy read. God knows we need all the honest discourse about sex and sexuality we can get around here. Perhaps some of us menfolk could benefit from confronting a little bit of our squeamishness about the topic as well.

I feel especially compelled to give it a read now that I have a vagina of my own.

(My Chocolate Vagina, close up)

I bought my vagina for three dollars at the Student Center, with the intention of giving it to my coworker K, a wonderful lady in her late 50’s who has been talking up the Monologues for a while, and even suggested that I go, although she had some trouble saying vagina out loud in front of me.

But halfway to the office I realized I had a chocolate vagina in my pocket that I was about to present to a female coworker, and I balked. I figured there’d be no good way to explain the whole situation to the Chancellor if she happened by while I was holding my chocolate vagina up for inspection. I imagined myself in front of some kind of Human Resources Junta attempting to save my job.

“Mr. Duck, did you present one of your colleagues with a gift on February 8?”

“Yes, yes I did.”

“Will you describe for us the confection in question?”

“Well, sirs, it was chocolate in appearance, and it had, umm, a stick on it.”

“Did it have any particular shape, Mr. Duck?”

“Well, as I recall, umm, yes it did.”

“As what would you describe that shape, Mr. Duck?”

“Well it, you know, it, umm, reminded me of, a, you know–”

“Speak up, Mr. Duck.”

“A Georgia O’Keefe painting?”


(one artist’s rendering of my vagina, in white chocolate)

Of course the funniest part of this whole episode would have been watching me trying to get the right light to photograph my own vagina with my camera phone while sitting at my desk.  Unfortunately, unless HR alerts me otherwise, no video exists of that moment.

I’ve had this thing for less than 24 hours and it’s already created complications in my life that I could neither forsee nor forestall.

See the Monologues?  Hell, I think I could write my own chapter.


Clean Living: The DuckBox Virtual Tour Part II

February 8, 2007

TROUBLE slept in cursive words. I held the torn sliver of yellow paper in one trembling hand, reading again a name vaguely familiar, a phone number with a Pine Woods prefix, and instructions for the purchase of a hundred-dollar washer and dryer set.


I’ve lived most of my life in the pine woods, and if I’ve learned anything it’s this: It’s a desperate man who will offer you his washer and dryer for a hundred bucks.

He could be a meth addict.

Or a recently-divorced, middle aged man who has given up on clean clothes forever.


I met a man like this recently at the Piggly Wiggly in Rabbit Hill. He wandered the aisles (both of them) like some kind of mad prophet, ZZ-top beard and hair so long and tangled it had long ago formed dread locks of its own accord. A walking, smelly, Cautionary Tale. He stopped me in the Smoked Meats section, jabbing at my chest with the corner of a saltine cracker box.

“This is all I’ve eaten for six years and three months,” he stammered. “Saltine Crackers and Vienna Sausage.”

(Which, if you’ve never pulled an ice-cold Pepsi from the same cooler in which you’re keeping the fish you just caught, you might not be aware is pronounced “Vie-ee-na.”)

“I hope you’re going with the low sodium,” I said. “Men on that diet have been known to spontaneously combust when exposed to open air.”

“Would that God would bless me with fire!” he lamented. “She left me for the Game Warden who arrested us for spotlighting deer. He took my hunting license, my rifle, and three hundred dollars in court costs and fines. She took my heart.”

“Game Wardens are known for their cunning and cruelty,” I sympathised. “Some say their hearts are three sizes too small.”

“I have no reason to keep living,” he said. “I’m going to put back these crackers.”

“Let’s keep it positive here,” I told him. “Mix it up a little bit. Try some of those sardines. Spring for the Ritz crackers. Grab yourself a hunk of hoop cheese.”

“Hoop cheese,” he contemplated. “I had forgotten about hoop cheese.”

“Hoop cheese is good,” I said. “Ergo, life is good.”

“I used to be very good at chess,” he said, smiling. “Very good.”
“You should gamble,” I told him. “Now get out of here. Take a bath. Get a haircut. Wash your clothes.”

“I sold my washer and dryer six years ago,” he said. “For a hundred bucks.”


You see what I’m talking about. My worst fears were confirmed when I dialed his number.

“I thought you were coming last week,” he said.

“Running low of pseudophedrine?” I asked.

“Excuse me?”

“I’m coming Saturday. Where do you live?”

“You know where Old Cabbage Road is?”

“Of course,” I said, my heart plunging into my gut. Old Cabbage Road. My ancestral home. A lawless, bloody neighborhood. Think Missouri river country, 1866. Jesse James and Bloody Bill Anderson. Pinkerton agents and bushwhackers. “You know where the old Boss Duck place is?”

“I know it,” he said, his voice suddenly hard.

“Which direction would I go from there?”

“Depends which direction you’re coming from,” he answered.

“Indeed,” I said.

“I live in a trailer with a building out back,” he continued. “I’m usually in the building.”

“Is that where you keep the Vienna Sausages?”

“Say again?”

“Never mind,” I said. “I’ll find you. See you Saturday.”


I would need backup. My next call was to the Growler, who, due to his own backwoods upbringing, understood the situation immediately.

“You go out there alone,” the Growler said, “that man will tie you to the back of his truck and drag you through the woods.”

“A Pine Woods Sleigh Ride,” I agreed. “I don’t want to have that happen again.”

“I’ll bring the twelve gage,” the growler said. “Should I bring Kerosene? You think we’ll need to smoke the bastard out?”

“No, Growler,” I said. “Bring the shotgun, but I go in alone. These are my people, after all. You hold your fire unless there’s trouble.”

“Oh,” the Growler answered. “There will be trouble.”


Trouble indeed. We found the brick house and the man’s trailer easy enough. Navigating the driveway was another issue. The whole estate was a swampy, rutted mess; The Growler slung his pickup off the hard top road and into the extended mud puddle at fifty miles per hour, holding his shotgun out of the driver’s side window as we careened sideways toward the rotting tarpaper structure between the trailer and the swamp, coming to a stop inches from a man in camoflague overalls and a blaze orange cap, holding a thirty-thirty rifle.

“What’s in season?” I asked him, leaning out of the window.

“Foreigners,” he said. “Godless Heathens. Seventh Day Adventists. You any of that?”

“Church on Saturday?” I said, spitting at the ground for effect. “That ain’t the way God intended it to be.”

I thought we were making progess, but just then a woman stuck her head out of the trailer’s back door.

“Lord, Harold, those boys almost run over the septic tank coming in here!”

The man’s eyes narrowed. “Is that how you treat a stranger?” he said. “Come in here and run over his septic tank?”

Behind me I heard the Growler cock the hammer on his shotgun. We’d both had relatives shot over septic tank disputes, and we both knew the stakes had just been raised.

“Hold on,” he said. “Are you a Liberal or a Conservative?”

“I’m just a man who needs to do laundry,” I answered.

“Well then get your washer and dryer,” he said. “And mosey on out of here before there’s trouble.”

“No shooting?” the Growler asked, disappointed.

“No shooting,” I said, keeping my eyes on the crazed fundamentalist with the hunting rifle while I stuck five twenty dollar bills through the window. “Just a simple business transaction. nobody gets hurt.”

Five minutes later we were tearing back through the gray muck of the front yard, washer and dryer secured in the bed of the Growler’s truck. I held the wheel as the growler Extended his torso out the drivers side window, shooting into the air and screaming “Full Cargo! Full Cargo!” The man’s wife, in a fit of rage, chased us all the way to the paved highway, waving a gallon can of Kerosene and a lit torch.

Beware of people who bury their septic tanks in the front yard. They will burn you out if you turn your back.

And thanks, Growler, for the backup.



An Apology to the Completely Heterosexual Evangelist Ted Haggard

February 6, 2007

Boy, did I step in it this time.

Last November, I called evangelist Ted Haggard a “self-righteous asshole” for vehemently opposing gay marriage while carrying on a three-year “cash for sex” relationship with a male prostitute, who also sold him methamphetamine.

Turns out, Haggard isn’t gay at all, and therefore his lifestyle is totally consistent with his religious/political views.   Apparently, because he only had sex with the one guy on and off over a period of three years, it doesn’t count.

Oh, and he never ingested any of that meth he bought.

So mea culpa, Ted Haggard, and godspeed to you.  I’m glad we both got that off our chests.


Above: Reverend Ted Haggard, not thinking about getting cranked up on meth and boning a male prostitute.


February 3, 2007