Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Ducks and geese.

     We saw a magnificent hawk soaring directly above our heads when we first entered the Chicago Botanic Garden Sunday. For a moment I thought it might be an eagle — it was that big, and seemed to have a white head. But then I saw the distinctive brown markings on its wings. A hawk.
     Soon we were debating whether certain birds far in the distance on the water were ducks, or geese.
     We walked. A thought grew.
     "Do you know..." I began, "that, in nature, there is a strict ratio for ducks and geese?"
     My wife chewed on that a moment.
     "Is this the set-up to a joke?" she asked.
     Damn. Busted. I used to be so good at this. I told her that, yes, it was. Then I told her what the joke would have been, had she not ruined it. She admired its primitive beauty.
     "I should have let you play it out," she said, regretfully.
     But my wife, like a skilled jazz musician, picked up the refrain of the thwarted joke and riffed upon it anyway.
     "Because then, you could have said, 'I learned about it in nursery school," she continued.
     I didn't immediately see where she was going with this.
     "And then I would be impressed that you still remember it, after all these years."
     I nodded, realization dawning.
     "And you would say, 'The ratio is very simple. It goes, 'Duck. Duck. Goose.' Then repeats."
      I know I'll be living to tell it to someone someday. Or you are free to use it as your own on some future occasion.
     Assuming there is anyone else in the world who might want to.
     Which there probably isn't. We are a particularly well-suited couple, having grown into each other like a pair of old oaks leaning against each other.
     On Monday, we were back in the garden — we go there a lot. We found ourselves standing before a mixed group of ducks and geese. Mostly the latter.
     "You're wrong," she observed.
     I knew exactly what she was talking about.



  1. "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together." John and Paul got nothing on the Steinbergs. G'goo goo g'joob.

  2. What a wonderful example of a very good marriage. Yes!

  3. I wonder if I'm the only one who didn't get the joke and had to look it up. I did go to kindergarten briefly, but don't remember playing such a game.


    1. I never played it, either, although my wife did. I'd heard of it, and knew it was a kid's game, but my wife actually had to explain how it was played. After I'd done exactly what Mr. S did, she didn't laugh.. She just said: "Shut UP!" She's heard nearly all my jokes, many times over. Truth is, there are no new jokes...just new audiences.

  4. Although I didn’t read your book on your challenges with alcohol I assumed you and your wife had a pretty solid relationship.
    She stuck with you even though she was successful in her own field. She could have hit the road but she didn’t.
    Now you have the Botanic Garden and all that goes with it.
    You’re both fortunate.

  5. In my marriage this happens whenever we spot a tern. One of us is sure to say it deserves another.


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