The Real Duck Dynasty
The Peabody Hotel, Memphis, TN. I have often said that if I could be any animal in the world, I would be a duck. Think about it. You get to float around all day, looking all adorable-like, shaking your tail feathers with mirth, and then at the end of your life your plump little body is plucked, cooked, and praised for its succulence as you’re served, beak and all, on a gorgeous Canton platter in an upscale Chinese restaurant. Now that’s a finer sendoff than most of us could hope for.
Something tells me that this fate, glorious as it may be, will not be met by the ducks of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Holding the undisputed title of the world’s most famous ducks, these water fowl, upon death, are sure to shoot straight up to heaven, reincarnated as fresh stars to stud the constellation Anatinus Gloriosissimus, otherwise known as “most glorious duck.” It’s up there somewhere next to the Big Dipper, which is technically their private bathing facility, though they sometimes invite Pisces over for a friendly dip.
Bath time at the Peabody Hotel is a most elaborate affair. After a leisurely morning spent waddling around their Duck Mansion located on the hotel’s rooftop, the drake and his harem of hen-ducks muster all of their dignity – which is considerable – and begin the daily routine of slapping their webbed feet onto the elevator, down to the lobby, and along a red carpet to their destination: the lobby fountain. There they loll away the afternoon, alternately supping, slumbering, and scooting spasmodically around the fountain to the delight of busloads of Elvis-crazed tourists and hotel guests. At Christmas, when the hotel is brimming with evergreen and ornaments, the bathers assume an almost sacred aura. (Weren’t there ducks at the birth of baby Jesus? Surely…) At five p.m. when the ducks repair to their sumptuous quarters, the tourists and guests drown their sense of abandonment with salty martinis, reflecting on their fleeting proximity to greatness as they absently fondle their plastic duck-tipped cocktail stirrers.
Practical Info: The famous ducks grace the lobby of the Peabody Hotel from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For best viewing, get there early and stake out some cozy arm chairs. Your time won’t be wasted, as there is plenty of people-watching and martini-guzzling to go around until the ducks make their grand entrance. Address: 149 Union Avenue, downtown Memphis. Telephone: 901-529-4000.