Tuesday, September 22, 2009

goodbye, mr. duckingtonworth

Goodbye, old friend.

Allow me to tell you a little story.

It was August 1999, and I was ready for my first day at my first full-time, post-college job. I was wearing what I thought was appropriate work attire for the serious Art Specialist, but it was actually a linen suit made for funerals. All black. Itchy. But since I'd interviewed in a tank top, spandex skirt, and sandals, I was putting in the extra effort to appear focused, hard-working, and serious. Even if it itched.

It was pouring down rain, and I didn't own an umbrella, so I was soaked by the time I made it to the door, ruining my hair and makeup and making my linen suit smell like wet, dead dog. I was terribly self-conscious. And it got worse.

When my boss arrived, she gave me my first assignment: take this stack of event posters to downtown Marietta, GA and go into each shop on the Square to ask if we can tape up a poster in their window.

If you know me, you know that this assignment was beyond terrifying. Go to a new place that I've never been to and ask strangers for a favor? About the only way it could have been scarier was if I had to eat a tuna salad and hot apple pie while having blood drawn afterwards. But, by gum, I was determined to succeed in my position, so I did it.

But I had to stop and buy an umbrella first. I went into a CVS and came out with that fellow you see in the first picture. Mr. Duckingtonworth. He was the only umbrella they had left, and I think I paid $20 for him, since it was a rainy day. In and out of shops I popped all morning, breaking through my sheer terror to smile and explain the event and tape up posters where allowed. Most folks were pretty nice and accustomed to being asked such favors. No big deal.

And then, as I trotted out of the last shop, exhausted of posters and smelly of linen, the sun burst from the clouds and sparkled on Marietta Square, and I shut my new umbrella and exhaled with satisfaction and relief.

And then I had lunch.

And now, after 10 years of faithful service, Mr. Duckingtonworth is finally ready to be retired. He has many problems. Wanna see?

As you know, Atlanta had horrible floods yesterday, and I counted on Mr. Duckingtonworth to shepherd my children and me from Chickfil-A to the car. And he turned inside out and flew away, and I chased him down in the rain, even though it ruined my new shirt and soaked all three of us. Because that duck has been with me through a lot. Six jobs. Three states. Five apartments and four houses. A wedding. Two babies. Countless times Mr. Duckingtonworth has preserved me from the elements, and now I need a new umbrella.

Would it be sacreligious to bury an umbrella next to your favorite cat?

I don't know. But he deserves to go out with panache, because there never was a more faithful $20 wooden duck umbrella than Mr. Duckingtonworth.

RIP, old friend.


Caroline D. said...

I'm pretty sure he needs a place of honor in his retirement. Put him on the mantle where he can watch the household goings-on. or you can give him a permanent spot near the door where you touch his head before you go out like they do in those sports movies. and battlestar galactica.

NutellaonToast said...

Give him a viking funeral.

Leslie said...

What Caroline said! Now is the time for an umbrella stand, maybe? As you will soon likely realize that he is a valuable talisman in the array of protective items we hold dear.

Anonymous said...

I would totally keep him and find him a nice resting spot in the house.. kinda like keeping someone's ashes around. The umbrella stand is a good idea! I wouldn't be able to bury him. Too sad.