Friday, April 25, 2014

How Sweet Is the Duck-In?

Last week, Kerry and I decided to take a long walk with our friend Liz, Kavanaugh's former prom date and How Blank's lone groupie. Before we left, I grabbed my wallet, something I'd never do prior to a normal walk. We mockingly claimed that we were ready for "an adventure."

Our trio strolled around Woodlawn before entering Van Cortlandt Park, the third-largest park in New York City. As we wound along a serpentine path on the edge of the 1,146-acre expanse, we started inventing hypothetical situations.

"What if we ended up in Riverdale?" Doable -- just a few miles through to the other side of the park.

"What if you saw a bear?" Dumb question. Next?

"What if one of us got raped?" Ummm, let's just move on.

"What if we found a bar?" BINGO!

And you wondered why I brought my wallet. With that comment, we made it our mission to find some sort of watering hole without turning back. Sure enough, about 15 minutes later, we saw a sign: "Golf Course Club House -->". It was a literal sign, but also a figurative one: A drinking mission is the best kind of mission.

After another mile or so, the woods opened up to a reservoir, a golf course, and our oasis -- the club house. 

Obviously, we owed ourselves a duck-in. The duck-in -- the act of stopping at a bar in the middle of another activity -- is an ancient tradition, practiced by our thirstiest ancestors and refined by some of the sneakiest married men among us.

Our duck-in at the club house lasted about two hours. The duration of our stay could also be measured in pints (six for me, four for each of the girls) or famous golf lockers (we saw the erstwhile lockers of Babe Ruth and Joe Louis). 

On the way home, the path wasn't as exciting because there was no adventure ahead of us. That is, until we decided to make a stopover in The Hideout once we left the park. Another duck-in! What a day.

Which brings me to my larger point: What are the most common forms of the duck-in? Here are a few:

The Expected Duck-in
In the Suspected Duck-in, you know there's a pretty solid chance that you'll be wetting your whistle by day's end. Our Van Cortlandt Park duck-in falls into this category. (Remember my wily wallet-grab.) The Suspected Duck-in works great in big cities, just meandering along until you find the bar that's "right for you." (Read: the first bar you see)  

The Sneaky Duck-in
Urban Dictionary defines duckin as "hiding from someone or a group, usually cause they ratted and got them head hunters on em."*

*Noah Webster would be spinning in his grave, underneath his exquisitely-spelled epitaph.

Our term "duck-in" -- a noun with a hyphen in it -- is obviously different than Urban Dictionary's. Still, we often have to avoid detection by others in order to execute a duck-in. The Sneaky Dunk-in should mostly be employed on weekdays and on solo missions.

The Errand Duck-in
A few of younger cousins enrolled in a 10-week Friday acting class in my neighborhood during the springtime. My uncle dreaded it at first, an activity putting a dent in the family's Friday night. During the first week of the class, I met up with him and asked if he wanted to duck-in to The Heritage. Once he realized that it was okay to bring his other little kids there for a couple hours, he couldn't wait to drive to "acting" every Friday. My phone rang promptly at 6:45 each week for about four weeks. At that point, my aunt stepped in and put the kibosh on the the Errand Duck-in. Don't worry, though, Uncle Mike; there'll always plenty of errands to take care of.   

The "Escape the Party" Duck-in 
Have you ever attended a crowded or boring party that stifles your desire to stay there, but not your desire to stop drinking? Odds are, you've engaged in the "Escape the Party" Duck-in. I've initiated ETPDI's during college parties, weddings, Christenings, and holiday gatherings. Oh, and also...

The Funeral Duck-in
This ETPDI gets its own category. The Funeral Duck-in sounds morbid, but it's a staple of Irish culture. (Wait, did I just negatively stereotype myself, all my relatives, and all Irish people?) I've heard my uncles lie to my grandmother about "going to put some money in the meter"* more times than I can count. The Funeral Duck-in gives mourners a chance to remember the best times they had with their friend or relative.

*As I write this, I realize that "going to put some change in the meter" is a great euphemism for getting boozed up.

Jimmy pre-emptively struck in order to prevent the Funeral Duck-in. (Photo via
I know there are other varieties of the duck-in, and we'll certainly have a follow-up post or two. Whattaya got, Kavanaugh?

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