Usually, I end the evening with my son reading first, Duck and Goose followed by Duck, Duck, Goose both by Tad Hills. In the first book, Duck and Goose discover a ball that they mistake for an egg. In responding to what they take to be the egg’s needs, they develop an appreciation for one another that blossoms into a friendship. In Duck, Duck, Goose a new duck, Thistle, introduces competition into what had been a mostly cooperative relationship. My favorite part of the book occurs when Goose decides that he has had enough of Thistle’s contests.

Tad Hills. Duck, Duck, Goose. Schwartz and Wade, 2007.
Tad Hills. Duck, Duck, Goose. Schwartz and Wade, 2007.

I love that Goose has boundaries. Though he acts as a good sport and participates as much as he can in Thistle’s games, he ultimately decides to move on to something else. “I’d rather look for butterflies,” he decides.

I thought about this as I read an excerpt from Christina Haag’s memoir, Come to the Edge, published in Vanity Fair. Unlike VF’s description, I found nothing “magical” about the trip Haag and John F. Kennedy Jr. took to Jamaica. I judged his “fearlessness” to be reckless and their “romance” to be patriarchal. The example that proves the case is the story Haag relates of the time he took her kayaking in Jamaica after she had broken her foot. Before they encounter the reef that could have killed them or the “enormous swell” that might have, she describes her reluctance and offers his response:

” ‘It’s a reef–turn back, King,’ I heard myself saying in a voice much higher-pitched than my own. We paddled back out and convened. ‘You’re first mate and I’m captain, but we’re a team and I need you behind me,’ he said. ‘If we pull in and you say no for any reason–any reason at all–I’ll turn back.’ He kept his eyes on me and waited. There were bits of dried salt on his large brown shoulders. I wanted that desert-island fantasy, sand and all. I also wanted to feel powerful, as afraid as I was. And somewhere in the mix, I wanted to please him. ‘O.K. But you promise?’ ‘Don’t worry, I promise.’ ”

I had to read this several times before I felt certain I understood what happened. I was confused by the conversation following Haag telling Kennedy, who she affectionately called King, to “turn back.” She told him to “turn in” and he didn’t so how could they even be having the conversation they presumably had where Kennedy tells Haag that if she tells him to turn in for any reason, he will? Though I completely sympathize with Haag’s desire to want to please and found it admirable that she admits this, I did not regard this scenario as attractive. Kennedy seemed insensitive and self-absorbed. There is nothing magical or romantic about someone ignoring you and asking that you forsake your concerns for theirs; that’s just manipulative.

I guess that’s what I like about Goose, he knew when he had enough. Knowing when to stop, yeah, that’s attractive.

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