In Praise of the Rubber Duck (It’s Not Just for Bathing Anymore)

Painted and decorated rubber ducks from the an...

Painted and decorated rubber ducks from the annual rubber duck race in Leichlingen, Germany, 2007 (Wikipedia)

Disclaimer: Serious-minded folk will want to pass over this week’s post, as it violates one of blogging’s most sacred rules: Thou Shalt Not Post on Dumb Things Nobody Cares About.  The rest of you, keep reading.

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 I don’t normally spend much time thinking about rubber ducks.

In fact, I don’t usually spend ANY amount of time pondering the little creatures, no matter how cute they are or how creatively costumed.  If I had one in my bathtub as a child, I imagine I enjoyed it, but I take showers nowadays, so a rubber duck would serve no purpose in my bathroom beyond decoration.  And since its colors wouldn’t really match the rest of the décor, the point is moot.

For me, at least.  Not so much for other people.

What got me to considering the possibilities posed by a child’s squeaky toy (which is, incidentally, made of plastic vinyl and not rubber.  You know what they say about truth in advertising!) was an article in my local newspaper on the “Great Duck Derby,” an annual event to benefit the Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park, FL. This innovative form of fundraising set me to thinking: If you can race rubber ducks for a worthy cause, what else can you do with them?

Turns out, quite a bit.  For starters, you can:

  • Write a song about them, thereby helping to launch them on the path to cultural icon status.  If you also launch your recording career in the process (hey, it worked for Ernie), remember where you got the idea, okay?
  • Exercise a technique known as “rubber duck listening” (a staple of some mental health professionals I’ve known) when someone brings a problem to you.  Just smile and nod as they talk, in the hope they’ll eventually arrive at a solution on their own.  Chances are good you’ve already done this without knowing there was a name for it.   Bonus points if you shout, “Hey! Stop rubber ducking me!” the next time that happens.  Then enjoy the bewildered look on their face.  You’re welcome.
  • Use them to advance your knowledge of oceanography.  I feel certain that Bryn Shaffer, credited by some for being the inventor of the rubber duck in the late nineteenth century, could not have foreseen that her brainchild would someday travel from the confines of the bathtub to the endless span of the deep blue sea, furthering the cause of science in the process.  But it did.
  • Get one in a tattoo.  Because sometimes true love can only be expressed in body art.  Brave that electric needle and show the world you care!  Who cares if your friends call you cheesy?
  • Start a collection.  Better yet, start the world’s BIGGEST collection.  After all, Charlotte Lee only had 5,631 of them as of 2011. I know somebody out there’s itching to steal that spot in the Guinness Book of World Records – could it be you?  And if you’re not keen on record setting but would like to take away some valuable academic lessons from your efforts, Ms. Lee entertainingly explains how in this video.
  • Then again, sometimes just one duck is enough…especially if it’s Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s non-partisan goodwill ambassador, designed to travel the world’s waters in an effort to “reconnect people with their childhood and put a smile on their faces.”  Mr. Hofman, deep down you must be one wacky dude…and I adore your brand of wackiness.
  • Discover your inner rubber duck by taking a quick quiz.  I’m a Superhero Duck.  Who woulda thunk it?  But I took the test twice!

These are just a few of the possibilities. Now how about you?  Did you have a rubber duck in your tub when you were a child?  Do you still?  (It’s okay, you can comment anonymously.)  Have you embraced your Inner Rubber Duck?  Write me and let me know.  (Bonus points if you share a picture.)  And until we meet again – Keep on Quackin’!

(Stock Free Images)

(Stock Free Images)


2 thoughts on “In Praise of the Rubber Duck (It’s Not Just for Bathing Anymore)

  1. Fun blog! (Don’t think much of the inner duck survey, though — it says I’m a “Texting Duck,” and I’ve NEVER texted in my life.) Who knew that there was so much you could do with a cheap child’s bathtub toy!

  2. You can build a house for them, decorate your car with them…I never knew there were so many uses for the little creature…or so many enthusiasts out there.

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