I was recently in the China pavilion of EPCOT’s World Showcase, when I spied a most heartwarming site: tipsy ducks in love. I came to know them and found their story quite sincere and worthwhile…
Lyle was not your ordinary duck. For starters, he was an accountant. He was an accountant who worked for the Quacky Quack Quack Corporation, a company that specialized in Doing Business with money and firm handshakes. Lyle had to wear a tie to the office, and because he was the point person on many things that had to do with money and business, he had many Important Papers that required him to carry a briefcase. He was always busy stamping Important Papers, affixing his signature to Important Documents and The Contracts for the Big Money Clients, giving firm handshakes, and Being Serious. Some days he might spend 12 hours at the office Being Serious. Lyle was very well respected by his superiors, and was generally seen as the finest example of a gentleduck.
Despite its name, the Quacky Quack Quack Corporation was owned and operated by rabbits. Rabbits, as you know, are the most businessy of all the animals in Far Farthington, Near Nearington, Away Awayington, North Northington, Isle Islington, and all the vast reaches of the Animal Kingdoms that reside across the Blue Space. If you did not know that, it means you have a great deal of reading to do about the Animal Kingdoms. There is no shame in that, but as the rabbits like to say, you best get hopping. Just to give you a quick primer, though, I will tell you this: rabbits are very businessy and they do not like to get into business and money things with other types of animals. So you see, it was not at all common to see a duck work for a rabbit. Rabbits, to be quite blunt, don’t like ducks, as ducks are mostly carefree, preferring to shake their tail feathers and quack and quibble their days away while eating crackers and joyously looking for their next thrill. Thus, to re-iterate: Lyle was not your ordinary duck.
But as I said before, Lyle was very well respected by his rabbit superiors, and for that reason they had decided that he should go to talk about Important Things with the Potential Business Partners who the QQQC hoped would Do Business with them. The Potential Business Partners asked that Lyle meet them in Disney World, for Very Specific Reasons. Neither Lyle nor his rabbit bosses seemed to know what the Very Specific Reasons were, but since they all wanted to Do Business, they didn’t care.
And so, Lyle found himself on a bench in the China pavillion in Epcot, waiting to meet the Potential Business Partners. That bench was where he met Clara.
Clara was your ordinary duck. She was a free spirit, carefree, and always looking for joy. She never focused on the ullage of life, but rather on its amplitude. She loved nothing more than to sit on top of a calm lake and eat crackers all day, quacking contentedly with friends, and napping in the sunshine.
“Hello there? Hello, darling? Darling? Is this seat taken?” Clara asked as she approached the bench that Lyle was sitting on, indicating the spot to his left.
“Oh no, ma’am,” Lyle replied as he scooched over, giving Clara more room.
“Ma’am? Oh don’t be silly! We’re the same age, I bet! Don’t call me ma’am. I’m Clara and I am just the most fabulous person you’ll ever meet!” She said this with a little flip of her bill and a wink that perplexed Lyle. Who was this duck?
“Umm…” Lyle felt utterly perplexed by this seemingly loquacious duck.
“I think this is where you tell me your name,” Clara suggested.
“Oh, uh, my name is Lyle.”
“Lyle? Oh how perfectly droll! Lyle Lyle Crocodile! Though your teeth don’t look menacing at all, darling. Not like those fearsome crocodiles that they have in some of the waters around here. Oh, they’re just dreadful! I was out in a lake somewhere near Tampa—St. Petersburg, Pinellas—oh who knows? Florida all looks the same doesn’t it? Sunshine and palm trees and what was I saying? Oh yes! Crocodiles! Well I was out on a lake and there was this other duck sitting there just a few feet away—a real waif of a thing, probably hadn’t had a cracker in weeks by the look of her—and this crocodile came along and just gobbled her whole. Oh now isn’t that just awful? But you aren’t like that, are you darling? You’re not a Lyle Lyle Crocodile at all. You’re a Lyle Lyle Adorable Duckling. Well, darling, I’m Clara and I am just the most fabulous person you’ll ever meet, but I said that already, haven’t I? Oh, jellyfeathers! I’m just a fantastical mess, aren’t I? It must be this stunning little drink they concocted for me over at that tea stand. Would you like a sip? Oh, but you must try it! It’s just divine!” And with that Clara shoved her drink right in Lyle’s face.
“Now, no. No! Listen here, ma’am—”
“—Clara! Clara St. Quack. I’m just the most fabulous—”
“—Clara. It was lovely to have met you, I’m sure, but I must be on my way. I have to Do Business and most certainly cannot partake in the drink.”
“Do Business? What are you? Some sort of rabbit?” Clara laughed. “Oh. Oh, now I see that you are. Or at least you think you are, with your adorable little briefcase and your oh-so-sensible glasses. Oh, Lyle darling, you’re just the living end! What a pair of cat’s pajamas we are. You’re all rabbity and I’m just… I’m just ducky!”
“Yes, well, ducky indeed. Good day, Clara. I must be going.” He got up and took a few steps.
“Oh but don’t go. If you leave, I’ll be all alone here on this bench with nobody to enjoy the view with!”
Lyle turned and looked at Clara. “I don’t really see how that’s my problem.”
“Problem? Well who said it was a problem? It’s no problem at all to sit on a bench and look at a lovely view alone. But… well… it’s no problem, but it’s no solution either. The world always looks better when there’s another person blocking part of the view, don’t you think?”
Now for whatever reason, this caught Lyle’s attention. Lyle, who was so often focused on work, never had time for friends and certainly no time for dating. He looked at Clara and saw her for the first time. She was quite beautiful. Her brown feathers looked so soft, and her long black trail after her eyes wrapped all way back around her head. Her tail feathers were perfectly straight. Clara was lovely, Lyle realized, and he slowly re-approached the bench.
“I’ve never had anyone to block my view,” Lyle said softly. He found that as he said this he was a bit sad about that fact.
“Never? You’re pulling my paddle!”
“No, I’m not. I spend all my time Doing Business and I just haven’t found the time to…”
“Well, jingo jambo, you really are a rabbit! Oh, Lyle honey, why don’t you sit down and have a look around? Everything here is so fabulous. Listen to the music! Oh, I just love the music in this pavilion. It is the most divine thing in the world.”
Lyle sat down next to Clara and listened to the mandolin music playing in the background. He looked out across the lagoon and realized that it was, in fact, a beautiful day. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the bright sun gleamed appealingly off the metal railings all around the water. He breathed in the clean air.
“See? Isn’t it great? Here, try this!”
“What is it?”
“They call it a Panda Blaster. What a silly name, right? Well, it’s coffee, tea, milk, chocolate sauce, and bourbon. It’s just the whisker’s wiggle! Go on, try a sip. Just one sip.”
Lyle was a bit unsure about having a sip of something with bourbon in it at 11 in the morning, especially when he knew that he would have to Do Business later. Clara, though, was having an intoxicating effect on Lyle. He found her to be a delightful and a buoyant spirit. He found her thoroughly irresistible, actually. He took the Panda Blaster from her hand and took a long swig.
“Isn’t it just the best thing you’ve ever had in your life! I’ve never tasted anything so sensational ever. I could drink them by the gallon. Here, have the rest of mine! I’ll go get another one!” And before he knew it, Lyle was on the bench alone with a Panda Blaster, watching Clara waddle back over to the tea stand as fast as her little feet would carry her. He loved the way she walked, with her tail feathers swishing furiously and her had turning from side to side. She let out little quacks of excitement here and there. She was beautiful.
As he waited for her, he looked at the many people walking around. None of them were alone. There were families with little children, groups of friends around Lyle and Clara’s age, and older people too. The older people were all couples. He wondered how long had they been together. They all seemed so happy. Lyle continued to drink his Panda Blaster. It was so good. Perfectly cold on this warm day. Sweet, just like the color of the flowers next to him. Lyle wondered if Clara liked flowers. He wondered if Clara liked these flowers. He wondered if Clara would like it if he picked one of these flowers and gave it to her when she returned. He decided that she would like that very much and was just about to bend down and pluck a petunia when his phone rang.
It was The Potential Business Partners. Lyle immediately answered.
“Lyle J. Duckbill here.”
“Mr. Duckbill, this is the assistant of The Potential Business Partners. We are ready to Do Business with you. You must come inside the China pavilion immediately.”
“Oh, um. Well, my friend just stepped away for a moment. As soon as she returns, I will come inside. It shouldn’t be more than a minute or two. I’ll be right there.”
“A minute or two? That is not acceptable. The Potential Business Partners want to Do Business right now! They are ready to give firm handshakes and discuss Important Things. You must come immediately.”
“But my friend will not know where I am, and she will be worried if I have suddenly gone missing.”
“This is unimportant to us. You must come inside now, or else we will not Do Business with the Quacky Quack Quack Corporation.”
“Then you will not do business with QQQC. That is that and that is my final word on the matter. Goodbye.” It was unlike Lyle to think of anything other than Doing Business, but strangely the words came out of his bill before he could really comprehend their magnitude. He didn’t care about Doing Business. He only cared about Clara. He had decided she would like one of the lavender flowers next to the bench and so he bent down and picked one. He looked at it closely. It was a lovely flower, Lyle thought. It was the first time he had ever thought about the beauty of flowers, but he thought that maybe thinking about beautiful things should be a more important part of his life. He smiled and it was something his face was unaccustomed to. It felt marvelous.
“Well look at you! All smiles and sunshine today, Lyle!” Clara exclaimed as she returned with not one, but two, Panda Blasters. “Here, I got you a full one. I figured you would just guzzle down the other one while I was gone and boy howdy, looks like I was right. Lyle, I just might make a wonderful lush out of you yet! Here you go!” she said as she pushed the drink into his hand.
Lyle grinned and realized that, sure enough, he had finished the first Panda Blaster—and he wanted more.
“Bottoms up!” said Clara with a smile, as she raised her cup.
“To beauty,” said Lyle as they toasted. He took a long gulp of his drink and let the sweet chocolatey liquid fill him.
“Beauty? Well, Lyle, it looks like the rabbit in you might be fading away. But you’re right. Isn’t it just ravishingly beautiful here?”
“It is beautiful, Clara, but not nearly as lovely as you are. Nothing I’ve ever seen has been. Not even this flower. Here, have it, Clara. It’s for you,” Lyle said sincerely as he handed the little lavender flower to Clara.
“What’s this now? Oh, Lyle! It’s just lovely. I do love lavender. It looks so nice against my brown feathers. How sweet of you to think of me like that. Now look. Does it look nice?” she asked as she tucked the flower into her breast feathers.
“You look like a dream.”
And so their day together started. Clara and Lyle drank their Panda Blasters and talked all day. They sat on that bench for hours, mining the depths of each other’s life, soaking up all there could be to know about the other. They kept refilling their drinks and as the day wore on, they decided it would be nice to stroll around the lagoon and visit all the different pavilions. They listened to drums in Japan, sipped wine in Italy, and watched the little movies in France and Canada. They talked about how they wanted to visit the different countries, and planned dreamlike escapades along the way. Clara wanted to see if the Loch Ness Monster was real, and Lyle wanted to lay in the sun in Cancun and drink pineapple juice and rum. They had a lovely dinner of crackers and cheese sitting on the side of the lagoon in the France pavilion. Lyle bought champagne from a little cart and they watch the day turn into twilight and then to night, toasting to life.
They continued their little stroll around the showcase until they found their way back to the tea stand and the bench in the China pavilion, where the day had started. It was nearly 9pm.
“Oh, Clara,” said Lyle. “This day has been so worthwhile. I feel like I’ve never felt before. I’m thrilled and tingling with vivaciousness. I feel like the wind is blowing straight through me and that the only way to stay upright is to dance with joy. I feel lightheaded and gay as a daisy in May. I feel… I feel…”
“Tipsy!” laughed Clara.
“Yes! Tipsy! Oh, what a sensational word that is, Clara! I do feel tipsy and spritely and… in love. Do you hear that?” he shouted. “I’m a tipsy duck in love! I’m a tipsy duck in love and I want everyone to know it!” And with that, he grabbed Clara and kissed her, just as the first of the night’s fireworks went off overhead.
“I love you too, Lyle,” said Clara breathlessly, when at last they pulled away from their long, passionate kiss.
And as they sat, hand in hand and watching the fireworks, those who passed them couldn’t help but smile at the sight of these two tipsy ducks in love and be curious about the strange drink that they shared while the show in the sky illuminated their little kisses. They wandered over to the tea stand and asked about the ducks and what they were drinking. “I’ll have one of those tipsy ducks in love drinks,” they would say, and the staff knew exactly what they wanted, because after all, everybody wants love.