I believe your immediate question is going to be, “Why did Betce have two ducks.” I can tell you with all honesty that I do not remember or choose not to remember.
It was the spring of 1992 and I lived at 19 Palmer with Mustache Joe, Meyer, Loy, Betce (pronounced Betsy) and Baker. We were all geared up for graduation and were pretty much sick of each other. (That’s the nice way of saying that we were all getting sick of Betce.)
Betce had a dog named Flash. I remember Flash not being that smart of a dog. Flash had a problem coming when Betce would call. Once I told her that dogs responded to lower voices rather than high pitched, Cleveland accents. Often I would hear her out the back door squealing, “Flash! Flash!” Then she would pause and barrel out a low pitched, “Flash!” Flash didn’t give a shit either way. All in all, Flash was tolerable, especially when he was not listening to Betce.
One day, Betce brought home two ducklings. Oh boy, were they cute. And oh boy, those little f’ing ducks wore out their welcome quick. The noise they made. The poop. The stink. She named them Freedom and Chief. You can make your own assumptions why. If you didn’t know Betce, you might think it had to do something with her love of the Native American peoples. If you did know Betce, you might think it had to so something with the large amount of weed she smoked.
So Freedom and Chief became our house guests and we all lived happily ever after.
Well. Most of us lived.
Enter in Handsome Joe. Many of you might not know this, but Handsome Joe is probably only 9 credits short of having a BS in veterinary studies. Handsome Joe worked for years at a Vet’s office in Lancaster. He probably had a lot more practical experience than most other Ohio University students. He’ll tell you tale after tale of him putting down cats and putting fingers in dog’s asses. I think he’s birthed most domesticated animals and possible impregnated a few as well. He’s worked with all sorts of animals… including ducks.
Betce decided that it was best for the ducks, now no longer ducklings but rather larger, noisier, stinker ducks, to be outside in the fresh air. She bought chicken wire and some posts and set up a nice little unclosed area behind the house where the ducks could eat grass and shit out whatever grass becomes inside a duck’s stomach.
She immediately noticed that the ducks were beginning to test their wings and could actually gain a bit of air. This was a problem because Betce wanted the ducks to be happy, but she also wanted to keep herself happy by sheltering wild animals in the house. She called Handsome Joe and he showed up with a pair of scissors.
You can, with the proper knowledge and tools, keep a bird from flying by trimming back its flight wings. Handsome Joe had the proper knowledge and tools and the birds were made flightless. Betce was happy and the ducks didn’t know any better not having known the beauty of flight.
Everyone from the house, except Betce, left for Memorial Day weekend to go white water rafting. We came back Monday afternoon to find the duck fence in disarray and feathers everywhere. Flightless birds can’t get out of a chicken wire fence and they also can’t get away from neighborhood dogs. Betce had left the ducks alone outside in their pen and some roaming dog killed one of them and either chased off the other duck (Betce hoped) or took him “to go” (we all know this to be the probable truth.)
Betce was terribly upset. We felt bad, but come on. This could never have ended well. Who raises ducks in a college house? The fence was wrapped up and thrown out.
Years later, the sitcom Friends had Joey and Chandler raising a duck and a chick. They made it look so easy. In Hollywood, they don’t allow you to harm the animals during the making of the film. Chief and Freedom should have been so lucky.
The real question we must ask ourself is this: is Handsome Joe responsible for the deaths of the two innocent ducks. I think we all know the answer to that question.