Not at noon, really, more like nine o’clock this morning.
I was out for my morning jog through the park when I came across a gaggle of geese. For those of you who aren’t intimately familiar with semi-domesticated, park-inhabiting geese, they come in two varieties: the ones who get out of your way, and the ones who attack you. The ones who attack you are either geese with kids, and overly aggressive males. The latter are easily recognisable as they instantly get into the “angry goose” position and start hissing at you. If you’ve never seen a goose in this position, I urge you to seek out and provoke a goose at the earliest opportunity. Since there were no goose kids around and no goose adopted this stance, I assumed these geese were all of the get-out-of-my-way variety and would leave the path to let me pass. And they did. All of them.
One goose turned out to belong to a hitherto unknown third variety, the Clint Eastwood Goose. It stayed exactly where it was, bang in the middle of the path, flat feet well apart, wings hovering over revolvers, staring me right in the eye. I slowed down, giving it more time to get out of my way. It didn’t budge. I was getting close to it now. The sun was approaching zenith. The shadow of the stick in the ground had almost disappeared.
Not a feather ruffled on it, the Lee Marvin of geese. Its mighty beak was closed, its face expressionless. I outweighed it by a good thousand per cent, but it was of no concern to this rattlesnake of a goose. I looked it in the eye, and realized that I had not its indomitable will. It had broken me. I was defeated.
I started pulling to my right to circle around it and avoid the inevitable confrontation. Then, but only then, when I had already announced my intention to withdraw from the cataclysmic clash to come, did it move. It took a few steps to the other side of the path, letting me pass. I may be mistaken, but as I passed, I think I saw it nod. The nod of the gracious victor to the worthy opponent.
The goose stared me down and won. I lost a chicken race to a goose. So know, companions, know that we humans may consider ourselves the masters of the world, but they’re out there. And against a Gary Cooper Goose, even the mightiest of men fall flat.