The Dinner We Never Ate
One Saturday morning when I was around 11 years old, Mum and I were doing our usual household chores while Dad was out doing whatever it was he did on Saturday morning. When Dad came home he looked a little excited (never a good sign) and asked Mum and I to come outside with him. Dad explained he had a surprise for us (these were rarely "good"). He led us down the driveway to the spot he had parked his early 1970's boat of a car (not the normal spot...again...not a good sign). Walking around to the trunk of the car Dad told us both to follow him and began to arrange us precisely where he wanted us to be. He handed Mum the key to the trunk and told her to wait a minute. Next, he handed me the end to a rather short string which was dangling from the closed trunk.
Knowing my Dad, and knowing that his surprises weren't of the normal sort, I gingerly pinched the tip of the string between thumb and forefinger and prepared to run. The string was too short to get a good runners block stance but I was as close as I could be to Olympic form. Finally, victims in place, Dad issued the order to open the trunk. Mum said something to the effect of "Oh, for goodness sakes, Ralph. What have you done now?" and I just took a deep breath.
The key was inserted into the lock and there was a low clunk as the mechanism opened. The old trunk springs groaned a little and sent the trunk lid skyward. What followed can only be described as a possible winning $10,000 video for America's Funniest Home Videos had we actually been recording it. The trunk was still in motion toward it's apex when I took off down the driveway holding the string. It came with me quite willingly and with no drag whatsoever. As I reached the bottom of the driveway I turned to watch the show.
Now that the trunk was open its contents were free to spill out. With a huge cacophony of hissing and honking a very large, very disgruntled white goose threw up its head and spread its wings across the edges of the trunk. It only took Dad a second to realize that the string I was holding, which had formerly been attached to the leg of the goose, was now at the bottom of the driveway with me. It had been intended as a leash so I could gently "walk" the goose out of the trunk and possibly take it for a nice stroll through it's new neighborhood.
"Oh shit", he said and slammed the lid of the trunk back into place simultaneously bonking the goose on the head and trapping a couple of wing feathers in the process. Mum looked at Dad with the incredulous look I had seen on her a million times.
"Precisely what were you planning to do with THAT?" she asked.
"I thought you could wring it's neck and pluck it so we could have it for dinner" he explained.
Mum pursed her lips and gave him a smoldering look. "You thought WRONG!" she replied and turned on her heel to stomp back into the house.
Dad looked at me and told me to come and help him put the goose into the garage. It wasn't difficult to convince the goose that the garage was preferable to the trunk and he eagerly exited into his new digs. Dad explained it would be my job was to feed and water our cranky future dinner guest until such time as he could figure out what to do about it.
The condemned goose was fed by my launching his food in through a window I managed to pry open and watered by barely opening the door to slide the garden hose into his bowl. I much preferred the hose being attacked than being on the receiving end of a goose tirade every day. After about a week, I suppose he thought Mum would change her mind in that amount of time, Dad loaded the goose back into the trunk and took it down to his friend's river camp. Once there the goose was free to roam around and serve as a watch dog/house alarm for Dad's friend.
We never saw the goose again but can only hope that his life without us was a good as our life without him. Growing up with my Dad was never dull and packed with the experience I got when Dad didn't get what he wanted.