the baffling: if it walks like a duck

Earlier this week I saw something as I was driving along that made me do a head swivel and then laugh out loud. It was a man hurrying down the street with a black balaclava on his head, and a backpack slung over his shoulder. It was about 11am so it was difficult not to miss him because balaclavas are not standard headgear where I live. He was hurrying, but he wasn’t sprinting which would indicate that he had not in fact just robbed a bank, though his walking gait was a nervous sort of stride so he did fit the stereotypical picture of a criminal with his whole get up. While I realise that criminal activity is nothing to be laughed at, I immediately thought of the scenario that maybe he had just robbed a bank and had forgotten to take off his balaclava. His attempt at a somewhat casual stroll down the street, whistling like nothing was amiss, is akin to forgetting to remove your name badge after being at a conference. Perhaps a minor embarrassment for the conference goer at the time, but a potentially career ending oversight for any criminal. Unfortunately a forgetful robber does not a good criminal make.

And then of course there is the other option. Maybe his Mum knitted it for him. Son, that wind is pretty chilly out there and I don’t want you to get an ear-ache so I have knitted you a new beanie for your head. I made it a little ‘larger’ this time because I had some extra wool. And so his redesigned black beanie is born. And what a confronting piece of headgear it is. The balaclava creates quite a menacing look, so even if you are just wearing it to protect against the cold weather, don’t be surprised if ‘closed’ signs start appearing in shop windows as you stroll on past. And if you loiter anywhere in the vicinity of a bank, that large flashing red button within easy reach of the jumpy bank teller is going into launch sequence. I can guarantee it. But all is not entirely lost when it comes to your social life. As much as the balaclava is quite an anti-social type of accessory, you may get to mingle with Mr Policeman, even if the rest of the population gives you a wide berth. And telling Mr Policeman that your Mum knitted it for you to stop you getting a chill, while helpful to the police, might not stop you from having to partake in their hospitality in the way of some long discussions about your recent social life in the area. And your fingers might get a bit dirty from the ink on them, but it will wash off in time for your sausages and mash dinner with your Mum that evening. So all’s well that end’s well. But as the saying goes, if it walks like a duck, and it talks like a duck, then Mr Policeman is going to pluck that duck off the street and try to roast him, so maybe tell your Mum next time to knit you some mittens.