What power do rubber duckies possess to transform the most stoic adult into a giggling child? What is it about a simple yellow plastic duck that can make any day sunny? I don’t really know the answer but I do know that once I started collecting the cheery little guys I just couldn’t stop.
My first rubber duck entered my life in 1996. I was at the LA Apparel Mart and was meeting with a rep. In the window of the showroom was a pair of flannel pajamas with yellow rubber ducks on them. Around the mannequin, in a huge puddle, was rubber duckie after rubber duckie. They were so cute and I couldn’t stop myself from picking one up and squeezing it.
I had had ducks when I was little, Mallards to be exact. Strange for suburbia, they lived in my back yard in a nice little area with a fenced in house for nights (we had raccoons) and a pond. I remember playing with the ducklings in my inflatable pool and having them follow me around. We most likely would have kept them forever but our crazy neighbor next door came over one night and killed all of our precious ducks and all but one of our chickens. He got to spend the next few months in jail.
I don’t think that would induce me to enter a rubber duck collecting frenzy. However, picking up that one initial duck did something for me. I ended up ordering some pajamas, some for the store, which had no place in my type of store, and one pair for me. I also took home with me that little duck. A gift of my rep who must have seen she would have had to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.
So the duckie came home and I thought, “well gee one duck is good but how about two.” Then being an artistic person I knew I could never have even pairs, odd numbers are so much more appealing. Three became four became five and so on until my flock of rubber fowl grew into the triple digits. I looked for ducks everywhere I went. Toy stores became my favorite haunts. I went to the UK two years in a row and on my second trip I garnered 12 new ducks, many of them I haven’t seen in anyone else’s collection. I have been lucky to have kind friends who have brought me ducks from Brazil, France, and Australia.
I am a self-admitting duck snob, a purist if you will. Only yellow duckies will do. Oh sure they may have polka dots, swirls, or wear hats but they have to be of a yellow shade. It’s a horrible thing I know, my alma mater would be ashamed, but I figure that way there are more multicolored duckies for everyone else. I also subscribe to the less is more theory and like my ducks rather plain. Sailor duckies can stay at my house because ducks are water-loving creatures. I just cannot find duckies in hard hats in nature so the same mold/different hat ducks do not grace my shelves. This makes my collecting a bit harder as I have to really search for my ducks and have quite a few same mold/different paint job ducks.
Like other duckie lovers it has gotten to the point where not many people can give me ducks as presents. They most likely will end up as duplicates and they get so disappointed when they are doubles. I love them all anyway and thank the giver for even thinking about what I like so much. People may think I’m crazy for collecting ducks but I know different. There is so much joy contained in one duck, it could last any one of us a lifetime. I may have had a hard day but I can look at one of my ducks and smile. I have created another duck monster as well for I have spread the joy of duck collecting to one of my dear friends and she is moving on towards double digits with her ducks. I didn’t mean to do it, I swear.
I am a preschool teacher and even my students know about my duck obsession, if you will. Any mention of a duck and most likely two or three children will yell out, “Ms. Jennifer, your favorite!” I have been found out! We are thinking about hatching ducklings this spring in our classroom. The kids voted unanimously ducks over chickens. Baby ducks…Uh Oh!
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