Through a concantenation of events I won't go into here, ducks became an inside family joke some twenty or thirty years ago. In the intervening decades, my folks have built up a collection of ducks--some mechanical, some antique, some in excruciatingly good taste, most definitely not--that makes me nervous about bringing anybody to the family home in Seattle.
To give you some idea: a friend of theirs (a Methodist pastor, so he wouldn't lie) once counted a hundred and seventeen ducks (d=117) in one of their bathrooms. The fact that, as Dad says, "A good number of them were on the shower curtain" does not excuse stuffing one-hundred-plus ducks into a seven-by-five space.
Anyway, they pulled out the duck that yells, "DON'T FORGET TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH!!" this weekend, much to the amusement of their un-grandchildren, who are almost six years old.
Reader, you must understand: it is the holiday season. In addition to the ducks (mechanical, singing, flapping, clapping, oral-hygiene-reminding), there will be at least sixty-eight (X=68) mechanical Christmas toys festooning their walls and bookshelves soon.
Imagine this: You pull up to a house in a nice Seattle neighborhood on a frosty December night. The house itself is of understated, tasteful modern design. You imagine cozy nooks and soaring ceilings, and you won't be disappointed. Inside, there's a combination of exquisite antiques, soft, comforting couches, carpets bright in pattern and intricate in design, and tiny details that catch your eye and invite further study. The walls are lined with books and things in frames that make you say, "Wait...was that a Matisse?" There's a cup of coffee in the kitchen for you, a cat who wants nothing more than to get its head rubbed...
AND SIXTY-EIGHT SCREAMING CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS, INCLUDING ONE ON THE BACK OF THE BATHROOM DOOR. THAT ONE SINGS, EVEN.
I don't spend holidays with my parents. Don't anybody dare question why.