The Talent My Roommate Had That I Coveted
Among all the useful skills one could acquire in life, we sometimes set our hearts on being able to learn one of the most useless ones. I suppose learning to talk like a duck is one of these, but, nevertheless, it was a skill Joyce had that I coveted. Joyce did not often speak this language. She never spoke it in public. She performed in our dorm room at Dykstra Hall when she was tired of studying and there were a few of the gals around all ready to take a break. Then she would break out in duck talk.
Now talking like a duck isn’t easy for me. I just don’t have what it takes. But Joyce could slip into it as easily as she could the German she majored in. Most of the time she was a serious person. She had a sense of humor, but tended on most occasions to be somewhat reserved – unless she was letting her hair down with the girls.
How I looked forward to those occasions. I’ve heard a few school boys do Donald Duck imitations, but they were pale compared to what Joyce did. She didn’t imitate some other duck. Duck talk was just a second language. In it she recited German poetry (“Die bist du eine Blume….”) with great earnestness. Hamlet’s soliloquy was another of her favorites.
Believe me, even if you have heard these from the mouths of famous dramatists, you have not heard them the way Joyce did them. The facial expressions were all sincerity, with all the passion the poets intended. But voice was all duck. The contrast between face and voice had us laughing to the point of tears. I was always sorry Kosta never got to see this performance because I know he would have loved it.
Of course, since it was a second language, Joyce used it for more than reciting. She would break into duck talk in ordinary conversations with just me present when she was tired or frustrated. I guess I’m that way with cat talk, though I haven’t mastered purring yet, either. I guess that’s another useless skill I covet, but I don’t know anyone else who can do it either, outside the cat family.
Do you have a useless skill others have tried to learn? Is there one you always wanted to acquire and couldn’t?
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