T minus 2 and counting.

My friends may tell you sometimes that they can get me to tell them things about myself without too much trouble. On the other hand, I have felt somewhat reluctant to explain away large parts of my character in this forum, because, aside from the handful of you who read this and who actually see me every day, when you read this, the only real things you know about me are my thoughts, my methods of writing and my appreciation of attractive women.

But sometimes certain stories need telling.

When my sister and I were wee tykes, we used to stay at my grandparents' place every once in a while so my parents could go and enjoy life without having to worry about our constant needs as little pestering children. Anyway, I remember once that our grandmother was trying to think of something for us to do during the day and it occurred to her that we would love to go down to the pond in the park and feed the ducks. My sister and I agreed.

I could not have been much older than about three at the time, and even though I generally have a hard time remembering much of my life before about the age of 6, for some reason I remember this two-hour span vividly. I had on a pair of sweet red shorts with an elastic waistband and white trim around the edges. My grandmother also made me wear the tattered Atlanta Falcons windbreaker that I had somehow inherited from somewhere. This was well before the Falcons switched their colors to black, so I was basically a study in red that day. We piled into the Oldsmobile and away to the park we went. My sister got the privilege of holding the loaf of bread in the car, but I didn't mind.

Ducks are a pretty tame creatures, but usually they prefer their own space. I've fed ducks in more recent years, and I remember I always have to ball up the little bread chunks and toss them in the water before the birds will eat their treats. But this particular family of Donalds came right up out of the pond, practically taking the bread from our hands. They would stand at our feet and we had but to drop it on the ground and boom, Donald and Daisy had themselves an easy way to fill their tummies.

This went on for some time. I kept trying to get the ducks to take the bread from my fingers, but they wanted none of that. But I kept trying.

At some point, a rather large goose joined our feeding party. As it started shuffling into the feeding group, the ducks started gradually retreating to the water, leaving the much larger animal to mop up the free meal.

Keep in mind that I am still only about three years old, so with the exception of the knowledge that one word meant "stay seated" and the other word meant "get up and chase me when I tap you on the head" (unless you're from Minnesota, in which case you would use the term "gray duck." You're also very weird if you fall into this category) the essential differences between "duck" and "goose" were pretty much lost on me. I was simply thinking, "ooh, big ducky! Big ducky eat bread!" So I held out a nice big hunk of Wonder white between my index finger and thumb.

The goose took the bread. He also took my thumb.

I screamed the way only a dumb three year old boy being molested by a mammoth waterfowl can scream, but the damn brute wouldn't let go of my thumb. My grandmother actually had to come running up and kick the bird in the gut before he would let go. I cannot remember if the bite actually hurt all that much or not, but seriously, at three years of age, if an ugly honking bird grabs you, aren't you going to be just a bit freaked out?

The best part of the whole experience was that the goose left a nice little U-shaped pattern of dots with his little teeth on the top of my thumb. For the first few hours, looking at it scared the crap out of me. Over the next week, I adjusted to it until it disappeared.

Years later, when it came time to invent an yahoo email address, I couldn't think of anything I liked. Then someone said to me, "pick something traumatic from your past that no one will understand until you explain it." Actually, no one said that to me. I just made that up. But I came up with the idea for GooseFood anyway. And that was that.

And I don't try to have any animals eat from my hands any more. They can just wait for me to toss it to them.

Flattered: that Alfred has called me a modern day Renaissance Man. Why? I don't know.