Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mister Ducklips

The question is on everyone's (duck) lips; how on earth did I get the name "Mister Ducklips?"

Well, I'll give you the short version here. In the late 1980s, the University of Oregon Marching Band was looking for ways to raise funds for new band uniforms (those meager years before Nike stepped up to help the Ducks). Now, I had seen "duck calls" (noisemaking devices use to hunt ducks) in action at football games in the '60s and '70s, but someone had come up with a duck call shaped like a duckbill, hence the name "ducklips."

Seemed like a natural to me, so I picked up a pair and instead of losing my voice at Duck football and basketball games, I just used my ducklips. Never had a problem with anyone until our basketball seats were shuffled around to the southeast corner of McArthur Court in the late 1990s.

As the season proceeded, it didn't take long for the fellow seated right below me to express his displeasure at my use of the ducklips. Now, mind you, I only used my ducklips at the appropriate time during the basketball game: when an opposing player was at the free throw line, or when the opposing team had the ball on offense in a tight game. It's not like I blew the ducklips right into his ear, either. He simply couldn't abide the ducklips, and he asked me to stop.

The first time he asked, I politely told him that I would not refrain from using my ducklips, and our heretofore non-existent relationship deteriorated from there. He claimed he would call an usher to force me to stop with the ducklips. "Go for it," I replied. When that didn't work, he kept up his litany of complaints. "You know," I said, "if you really don't like the noise, maybe you can go home and watch the game on television."

This back-and-forth went on until I received a call from the University of Oregon Athletic Department. They had received a complaint from my buddy, the erstwhile Duck fan with the sensitive ears. The gal on the phone asked me: "did you know there's a NCAA rule forbidding the use of artificial noisemakers in member basketball arenas?" "You're kidding," I said. "I purchased those ducklips in the lobby at McArthur Court!" "Oh, right," she replied. Nice try, I thought, but I was not going to give up my ducklips that easily.

We were at an impasse, which continued through the end of the season. Months later, when it was time to renew our season tickets, I noted that my seats had changed, seemingly for the better, from the southeast to the northwest corner of Mac Court. However, my grandfather clause as a longtime season ticket holder was missing, which I knew was a mistake. You only lose the grandfather clause when you change your own seats, not when the UO Athletic Department initiates the change.

So I took my season ticket information over the the Casanova Center to straighten things out with the Athletic Department. As I explained to the gal at the ticket window about my situation, I could tell it was becoming a bit complicated for her, so she said, "just a minute, let me get someone who can help you." So another gal comes up to the ticket window and I start my story all over again.

As I'm telling her the story, a look of realization comes over her face and she exclaims: "Oh, you're Mister Ducklips!

Yes, ma'am, and the name stuck.