Campus Life wenbo’s walks

The strangest game of duck, duck, goose

A parking lot obsession fuels my summer walks

9461 giraffe frog
This giraffe feels special. Why? Because of his frog friends, of course!
Wenbo Wu–The Tech

I pulled up to the vast asphalt expanse and started counting my spots. Duck, duck, goose. There. I sighed, relieved, knowing that despite COVID-19’s hindrance to driving in general, I still vaguely remembered how to park a vehicle.

So, the good ol’ age of 19. I suppose that’s where I’m at now. Another year older, another year wiser. Okay, maybe not quite the latter but I’m working on it.

I mentioned last month that I’d spend my birthday largely isolated using my typical COVID-era pessimistic rhetoric. Well, that’s certainly what I thought would happen, but my friends really outdid themselves to make my birthday feel special. They really do mean the world to me.

In particular, I would like to thank all my friends at The Tech who were able to successfully fool me into “leading” a News Department Zoom meeting before turning it into a surprise birthday celebration, complete with adorable puffle virtual backgrounds. I love y’all so much (and sorry for the moments of awkwardness when I didn’t realize what was happening because I’m just really not used to wholesome surprises).

I would also like to thank my friends who took me on a (super-well-planned-out, properly socially-distanced) day trip to an island along the Potomac River. Y’all gave me my first dining-out experience since March 12, and the food was incredible. I know it’s especially difficult planning these things during pandemic times, but I really appreciate it.

And finally to my friend who was on a call with me when the clock struck midnight July 10 and kindly interrupted one of my rambles to wish me a happy birthday, I’m so thankful to have such a Joyous Presence™ in my life.

And yes, believe it or not, I do chatter like a runaway train in real life and forget my temporal whereabouts sometimes, just like I do on this train-of-thought column.

In my defense, I usually only do this when I’m tired. But also, to be completely fair, being tired happens now more often than I’d like to admit, as my sleep schedule has somehow shifted itself to Pacific Time, a problem for someone who very much lives on the east coast. Yep: 3 a.m. ET bedtimes, here we go!

While on the topic of restlessness, do y’all ever lie awake at night and just think about how much you miss having the sound of road work on Mass. Ave. lull you to sleep? No? Just me? Alrighty then.

Speaking of roads, why don’t I make the really flimsy transition to discussing this new walking spot I found?

You may be wondering aloud at this point, “What?! Wenbo actually talking about a walk on Wenbo’s Walks? NO. WAY.”

I have some good news, my friend: you better believe I’m going to be talking about a walk. The times are a-changin’ and I’m evolvin’, and that’s what what I like to call “growth, period.”

I know some of y’all are about to make the argument that I’m basically just returning to my roots rather than doing anything to evolve, per se. To that, I’ll say that I believe that one can simultaneously return to one’s roots while continuing to evolve in a positive way.

If you don’t believe me, just take a look at Taylor Swift surprise-dropping her masterpiece folklore. I woke up at tired o’clock PDT on Thursday morning, but as soon as she dropped the announcement on Instagram, I found myself wide awake. No snooze button needed.

That was such a productive day only because of how early I woke up. If Taylor dropped a new album every day, I’d probably already have figured out a way to get myself to Mars by now, not that I’d necessarily want to be there at the moment.

I think I should add here that I’m very unbiased toward her music because I’m definitely not one of her top 1% of listeners worldwide according to Spotify a few months ago. I’ll be the first to admit that being an “avid Taylor Swift fan” isn’t exactly a selling point on a resume, but I consider it a personal accomplishment nonetheless.

I’ll go back to talking about my new walking spot before I swerve too irrevocably off-topic as I often do.

I’ll cut straight to the chase. I found myself, like many months ago, in a (different) parking lot. 

Yep. All this build-up led to a parking lot. Why’d I opt for this fancy in medias res thing to begin this article with? Discuss.

But dear reader, I assure you that I did not bring you all the way here, some 750 words into this article, just to marvel at painted lines upon the tar. That’s not nearly enough payoff, though knowing me with my cliffhangers, it’s something I could totally conceivably do.

I shall not admire this parking lot anymore, for it may accidentally allude to the Jordan Davis country song “Slow Dance In A Parking Lot,” which is admittedly a guilty pleasure of mine but assuredly not my favorite song of all time.

I call the song a “guilty pleasure” because it addresses Walmart in a romantic context, which, as you may imagine, makes it awkward to blast in the car with friends around.

I mean, I’ve already written a whole half-article about capitalism, so I think Walmart falls safely under the umbrella of things I’ve already covered, if only tangentially. Besides, another one of The Tech’s brave reporters has covered this particular institution in a delightful guest article many months ago.

I feel like I should at least explain what goes on in my head when I play duck, duck, goose with parking spots. Whenever there are ample parking spaces, I always start on an arbitrary free spot and count three empty places up to determine where to finally park.

I don’t really know why I do this, but it makes about as much sense as going through the eenie, meenie, miny, moe tiger chant we all learned in elementary school. Geez, just do some simple division with 16 and save all the hassle!

Whenever teams were chosen in elementary school Physical Education, I would always be one of the last ones picked, “presumably under this eenie, meenie, miny, moe system,” I had rationalized. Clearly the reason I never got picked was because I never stood in the “optimal” spot in the initial lineup of kids modulus 16. It was totally not because, you know, I was just laughable when it came to sports.

Anyhow, my family and I started to walk around this enormous parking lot, and we saw a gaggle of geese huddled on a median ahead. Cool. 

Since I’ve mentioned it, I should probably point out that “a gaggle” is the last thing I would personally use to refer to a group of geese. However, I do not make the rules of English. This is obviously not nearly as amusing as “a tower of giraffes” or “an army of frogs,” but it’s definitely at least comparable.

The cutest image just came to mind: an army of frogs riding a tower of giraffes. Ribbit.

I’ll admit that I have no clue what sound giraffes make, but “ribbit” alone is hopefully sufficient to convey my enthusiasm for this idea’s potential fruition.

Well, it’s at this moment that both my parents unanimously exclaimed, “Ducks!” Or more accurately, the Mandarin equivalent, “鸭子 (yā zi)!”, as opposed to the term for a goose, “鹅子 (é zi).”

As you might imagine, I was quite taken aback by this assessment of these birds. I mean, isn’t the entire point of duck, duck, goose supposed to be that geese are distinguishable from ducks? I always thought so, but apparently not.

I recognized these birds as geese only because I saw fires in their beady little eyes. I mean, they could attack and I, with my poor athletic abilities, probably wouldn’t be able to outrun (and certainly not outfly) them.

Make no mistake, geese may look cute, but when a goose starts honking and flapping, I’m going to dash from the scene. If the world were a stage, and if I were to be attacked by a goose on this hypothetical stage, I care not for who the players are. I do however know for a fact that my temporary exit would be akin to “Exit, pursued by a bear.” Thanks, Shakespeare.

And with that really important insight, I shall similarly exit from this month’s edition of my column. Fear not, for I am safe. I was never pursued by any of these geese, and neither were my family members who remain convinced those were ducks.

I promise, I don’t dislike geese. If geese are your favorite animal, all the more power to you. I often exaggerate their aggression only because I remember witnessing a boy get attacked by one in a park over a decade ago in Texas.

That boy may or may not have been me. I don’t think I was guilty of anything as a seven-year-old, but I’ll plead the fifth to be safe.

Anyhow, I suppose through this wild-goose chase of an article, we must return to our regularly-scheduled #deep question. If you, dear reader, had the option of becoming either a duck or a goose, and you had to pick one, which would you choose, and why? Thank y’all so much for tuning in, and I will see y’all at the end of August.