By: Matthew David Brozik

Justin Jedlica…famous for undergoing approximately 140 surgical procedures to look like Ken, didn’t…have the nicest things to say about Valeria Lukyanova, who has transformed herself to look like…a real-life Barbie doll. “She’s an illusionist.” Meanwhile, Jedlica takes pride in [having] taken extensive measures to actually become Ken. “My baby is my shoulders, because nobody has anything like them…I divided these so there’s six pieces — front, middle, and back. Just like the actual anatomy….” — E!

Amateurs, the both of them. Not that I don’t respect what they’ve done…but all they’ve done is had their bodies altered — on the outside — so that they’ll look like the bodies of fashionable dolls — but humanoid dolls. So big deal. And while I agree with “Ken” when he puts down “Barbie,” I do think it’s the acrylonitrile butadiene styrene pot calling the polyvinyl chloride kettle uniformly pinkish-beige, as it were. Neither demonstrates true, unreserved commitment. I, on the other hand, have taken great pains to resemble — inside as well as out — a less obvious, but no less popular, choice of plaything: a rubber duck. Plus, while those two nutjobs have been turning themselves into toys for personal satisfaction, I’ve been doing it selflessly for the children. One child anyway: my daughter. My daughter loves rubber ducks. She’s almost two.

Of course I consulted with numerous doctors about the best way to go about turning myself into a real-life rubber duck. Almost every doctor I spoke with referred me to another doctor, and in almost every instance that second doctor was a psychiatrist. Never one to be dissuaded from what I believe to be “the right thing to do,” however, I kept knocking on doors until I found the man willing to help me. As it happens, Mr. — formerly Dr. — “L” (not his full name or his real initial) had just that morning surrendered his medical license voluntarily in a deal that allowed him to avoid multistate criminal prosecution for something or other, but that didn’t change the fact that he was — is — an extraordinarily gifted surgeon, which is just what I needed to turn me from an average-looking human into a beautiful duckling.

One hundred forty (approximately) surgeries, Ken? That’s all? I’ve undergone 500 to date, and we’re not finished yet. The “Doctor” and I — although these days it’s mostly him, I confess — are always identifying something else that can be nipped, tucked, tweaked, or grafted with rubber or a rubber-like material such as vinyl plastic, depending on market prices. Not that cost is an issue — I’d be willing to spend every penny I made (when I had a job, before I decided to become a rubber duck) on this quest, but the good Doctor agreed to donate his surgical services to the cause for free. He just wanted to stay in practice, he said, and I certainly wasn’t going to argue with him, if he wasn’t going to argue with me about the wisdom or sanity of what I’d proposed. A meeting of minds is a truly wonderful thing.

I won’t go into great detail about the half-thousand major and minor procedures involved, but an overview with highlights should suffice. We started at the bottom, so to speak, by which I mean we first tucked my legs under my butt and then secured them there, forming the base of the duck I was going to become. (It was, we decided, important to get the general shape squared away first, before we tackled texture, color and other details.) Pinning my arms and hands permanently to my torso gave me the basic wing structure I was looking for. And of course we shaved off all of my body hair, because rubber ducks are more or less completely smooth. This also meant removing my ears (the external parts, anyway) and fusing my nose with my lips and moving my nostrils to the top of my new “beak.” My eyelids had to go, too, because rubber ducks don’t blink.

When we had me in the right shape, the good doctor had a brainstorm: one of the most amusing things about a rubber duck is that it floats, and this is because it is hollow. So, with my permission, my partner in this adventure took a break from reimagining my outside appearance to remove my internal organs, one by one, paying careful attention to which could go and which were absolutely essential to my survival. You’d be surprised at what fell into which column, I’m sure. The end result, though, was a decrease of approximately half my original body weight, increasing my buoyancy in bathwater by more than 300% — which any engineer will tell you is true efficiency. One of the other truly ingenious things the brains of this operation thought to do was modify my vocal chords so that anything I try to say comes out like a squeak. Pure genius (he squeaked with genuine admiration)!

To report that my wife and daughter were impressed and appreciative would be only half true. My daughter was thrilled when her “Daddy Duck” was left on the doorstep of the house where we all used to live, together, as a happy family. She was still clapping her hands and squealing with delight even as my wife — my ex-wife, I should say — dragged her upstairs and into a bedroom, locking the door and screaming the whole time. It started to drizzle, but ducks like rain, so I just sat on the welcome mat until the police arrived, with an animal control specialist. When the effects of the tranquilizer wore off, I was in a child’s wading pool in a precinct stationhouse, and Doctor L was already there to collect me. (A tattoo on my underside identifies him as my veterinarian.) On the ride back to his office, he informed me that he had spoken with my ex-wife and explained the situation, and that she had calmed down considerably. The bad news is that my daughter doesn’t love ducks quite as much as she used to. She’s been growing ever fonder of frogs recently, but I shouldn’t be disheartened because he has a new plan. And he doesn’t think it will require removing my heart.


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