News & Features
The Derpy Duckling
How I finally learned to be a responsible adult … quacking and screaming
Published: February 6, 2013
I have a confession, Orlando: I've been a pain in your ass.
I've made more dastardly mistakes and dealt more low blows to your kindest denizens than I should have, so I have a lot to atone for. Sure, I'm a 25-year-old entrepreneur with spitfire wit (and some damn good hair), but I grew up never truly understanding the concept of personal responsibility. But I digress: This story isn't about me ... it's about a duckling. The best duckling. Ever.
One hopelessly inebriated night, I was driving home in a cantankerous state. My current relationship was failing, and I had recently moved home and had to leave behind an incredible job in New York City. My life was a sham, and I would have probably considered priesthood if … ya know … the "no sex" thing wasn't a thing.
Then, all of a sudden, I saw them: DUCKS.
A mama duck and an army of ducklings were huddled in the middle of the street as cars jerkily pirouetted around them. Nobody stopped to help, and they were bound to be squashed. Not on my watch, Sally! I wasn't about to end my drunken pity party by allowing a slaughter-fest of peeping fuzzballs to take place. I swerved belligerently off-road and rounded up the little squirts, guiding them onto the closest sidewalk. The frantic mother was a little more hesitant and, upon further dizzied squinting, I understood why.
One of the babies had been hit. The mama duck wanted nothing more than to stay close and guide the little one home – even at the expense of her own life. My mother would have done the same thing (I love you, Mom). After a hopeless struggle, the injured duckling stopped moving, and I guided the mother to the rest of her little ones huddled safely on the side of the road.
As I watched them all waddle away together, I patted myself on the back.
"Ya did good, asshole." I was still a mess soaked in booze, saliva and self-loathing, but I'd saved some lives.
As I proceeded to stumble toward my car, I noticed a shivering ball of fuzz on the concrete. One of the ducklings, still in shock, refused to join the rest. Son of a bitch.
Like a regurgitated scene from those movies I don't watch, I made the Disney-riffic decision to put my open hand on the ground and make kissy noises, like I was summoning a poodle – I know, I'm an idiot. But so was the duck. The little quacker miraculously ran face-first into my palm, curled up in a squeaking ball and fell asleep.
So, for the next three weeks, I had a pet duck. After little to no thought at all, I lovingly named him "Derpy" due to his affinity for running in circles and looking up at me out of the side of his head. And … well … I just liked the name. From the moment I took him out of his luxurious cardboard-box apartment, Derpy would follow me around the house like his life depended on it (and it did). In one of the proudest moments of my life, I even taught the beaky baby to swim in my bathtub. Derpy was a rock star.
> Email Adam McCabe