I received a surprise yesterday that was both delightful and unsettling. It was 34*F when we took Harper for her morning walk so, being fully acclimatized desert dwellers, we got out our winter jackets for the first time this season. In the pocket of his winter coat, Harper’s Other Dad found a rubber duck he’d purchased for me sometime last year and forgotten to give me. Harper’s Other Dad is such a sweetheart.
As welcome as any addition to the flock always is, I find this duck a little unnerving. It is half black and half white. But rather than being simply all black on one side and all white on the other, as if that were something one sees every day, the two colors alternate on its features. Also, it has horns; one black horn and one white horn. I am no ornithologist but I’m not sure ducks really have horns. There is some kind of message in that and it isn’t; “I make bath time lots of fun”.
I guess the juxtaposition of black and white represent Yin & Yang; the idea that opposing forces bring balance to the world. O.K., the little symbol on its chest is a clue. Natural balance in the universe notwithstanding, there is something about a little creepy about the faces that are painted half one color and half another. Maybe it is just a variation of my coulrophobia. The dictionary defines coulrophobia as “an abnormal fear of clowns”. That is a little offensive. Fearing clowns is the most normal thing in the world to me but that is a topic for another day.
Faces that are painted all one color aren’t necessary comforting sights either. This is especially true if the color is one that does not occur in nature or is not appropriate to the race or ethnicity of the wearer.
The arrival of this new duck prompted me to look at memorable times I had encounters similar faces. There was an episode of the original STAR TREK series; an allegory about racism, where the population of a planet was at war because some were perceived as “half black” while others as “half white” depending on which side of their face displayed the color.
I was also reminded of one of my ‘guilty pleasure’ suspense films; Fade to Black. Released in 1980, it starred Dennis Christopher and Mickey Roarke. I haven’t seen it in decades and yet it was the first thought that entered my mind when I saw this duck.
The duck in a welcome addition and will take a place of honor among the flock. And you can be darn sure I will check it’s location before I go to bed each night. If I wake up in the morning and find it has moved during the night I’ll know something is amiss. There will be corrective action. I think exorcists still make house calls.