It’s spring, and all the ducks are in pairs now. Ethan and I went walking past the duck pond, which was empty. By the sides of the pond, little ducky couples just sat, sleeping. Probably waiting for the hen ducks to lay eggs, or for said eggs to hatch. In the park, there were little spots on the grass where mallards and hens were sleeping, side by side, couple by couple. I’ve heard ducks mate for life. At any rate, they’re adorable. And I don’t mean “cute and fluffy” adorable – but adorable in the same way that old couples holding hands are adorable.
Then Ethan and I noticed something. There were a few mallards just kind of sitting on their own. Or wandering around the park aimlessly. Or floating lazily in the pond. No hens. Just mallards. We realized that there was an uneven number of ducks – about a dozen too many mallards – which means one of two things has to happen: either a couple of these hen ducks go Jersey Shore and forget the whole monogamy thing, or these poor mallards just get used to being lonely this season.
Maybe I’ve spent too much time in single-and-trying-to-get-married wards in a college town, but I instantly felt a little sorry for these ducks. Biologically speaking, the whole point of surviving to adulthood is to propagate the species. And here these guys are, frustrated because there are literally not enough girls to go around. I mean, I’ve heard that excuse from humans before, but now there’s match.com. These ducks may not even know there are other ponds.
We started narrating what we felt the lone mallards were saying to one another. Things like, “Dangit, Rosalee, that guy’s nowhere near as good-looking as I am. You don’t know what you’re missing.”
Or the really creepy, jealous mallard: “Yeah, yeah. No mate this year, whatever. But next year, I’ll be dating Rosalee’s duckling.” Cradle-robber.
Or simply guy talk between single mallards. “Hey, Doug. You watch the game yesterday?”
“Yeah. I got a pretty good seat up at the bleachers. Some kid gave me a hot dog bun.”
“Meh. It’s better on TV. Lucky score with the hot dog bun, though.”
“Yeah. You wanna go do something?”
“Nah. I just figured I’d float in circles a bit.”
Or, you know, maybe I’m just thinking a little too hard about this. Maybe ducks don’t sympathize with the human college experience as much as I think. But they are Botany Pond ducks. I mean, they live on campus. The pond is practically a ducky dorm. And they might not follow the BYU Honor Code (these ducks were stark naked, I tell you!), but they looked pretty bookish to me. I’ll bet they know more than they let on. ♦