Life is difficult.
Especially for a rubber ducky trapped in an arcade that’s stuck in the 1950s.
Paddy Rüberduckie has watched for years as countless kids skipped back and forth across the scuzzy, black-and-white speckled tile floor from video game to video game. No one ever stopped at the claw machine filled with rubber duckys. Every once in a while, a wide-eyed child would approach, drop in a quarter and see other duckys get chosen by The Claw.
But it was never his turn.
He tried to make the best of his situation. He tried to be happy as he watched other ducky’s leave the nest, but it was hard because it never seemed like he would escape.
Once, he got pretty close, but halfway to the drop zone, he slipped through The Claw’s claws. Shiny, metallic hope dangled in front of him, but over time, he lost all hope.
And then, one day, on the last day of my annual family vacation in Lake George, NY, I happened to follow my best friends into the old arcade, a place I hadn’t set foot in for nearly two decades. I had a few quarters in my pocket, so I thought I’d try my hand at the rubber ducky-filled machine.
Seven quarters and nothing. I was on my last and, filled with little hope, I pushed the button to release The Claw and held my breath as it’s cold metal fingers plucked Paddy Rüberduckie from obscurity and into my arms.
From that moment on, we were the best of friends. We walked the Village strip together and when he saw Batman at a store front, he just HAD to pose with him:
We went to the Mystery Spot together. He stood in the center and quacked his little heart out. After so much time spent cooped up in a plastic cage, he was finally out and proud and ready to take on the world.
He was happy. And so was I.
Here he is posing with everyone (Steve, Kevin, Marissa, Nikki)
Then he made a friend. His name was Boris. Boris was also from the old arcade, but he lived in a more wild Claw game at the other side. He’s a little kooky, and has a lot of spunk. They became best friends:
Paddy loved Lake George. It was peaceful and beautiful and a far cry from his life in the Claw Machine.
He enjoyed all that life had to offer. He even had time to take in a few beers at the brewery.
But, all vacations end. So he came home with me. And now he resides in my car, ready for any and all missions of fun.
Paddy Rüberduckie reminded me of my youth. He made me remember what it felt like to be excited by something so small that it seemed like the biggest, most important thing in the entire world.
There is so much hate, so much anger, so much drama in the world. So much to make you feel jaded and cold. It is easy to harbor bad feelings and to dwell too much on shit that simply doesn’t matter in the long run, and it’s even easier to encounter situations that completely change everything you’ve ever known, whether good or bad. It’s so easy to get distracted by everything else, all the white noise in our day-to-day lives, and forget to stop for a minute and just be silly.
The real world is always there. Harsh realities are waiting around every corner. But somehow, in such a short time, at the tail end of my vacation when I usually am in the midst of a deep “WHY IS VACATION OVER KILL ME” depression, I was able to be blissfully happy and tap into my inner child. And it all happened because of a rubber ducky from an old 1950s Arcade in a crusty, rusted claw machine.