For a few years, I worked a relatively dead-end job at a custom framing store. Had I been an artist, this job would have made a lot of sense because framing can get expensive. For me, this job made as much sense as my getting an internship with a chiropractor to further my literary pursuits.
Ultimately, I did get many things of my own nicely framed, things which continue to decorate my home to this day. Aside from that, I got a story or two to tell.
A man came in to frame two stamps and their corresponding lithographs. The stamps were part of a series that showcased breeds of ducks (apparently, there had been great demand for duck stamps and the USPS jumped at the chance to benefit from this overwhelming public opinion to the tune of, what I presume, to be dozens of dollars.) As he set them on the counter, I said, “Those are really pretty. What kind of ducks are those?”
Pointing to the first, the man said, “Well, this one here is a blah-blah-blah.” I nodded, then he described the second, “This one here is called a something-something.”
“Are you a birdwatcher?” I asked, despite knowing full well the answer to that question sat atop his head in the form of a camouflage cap.
“Oh, no, no, no,” he said, as though he were trying to quell any suspicion or rumor regarding his manhood. “I’m a sportsman.” (I couldn’t help but imagine those men on trial at Nuremburg answering to the charges of crimes against humanity with a chuckle, “Nein, nein. Ve ver sportsmen.”)
“I had duck once,” I said, “but I didn’t care for it much. It was on the dry side.”
“Meh, I don’t eat ’em, either,” he said. “I get ’em stuffed, hang ’em up in the house.”
“So, you hunt strictly for aesthetic purposes,” I said.
“Nothing. So, do you have any ideas how you would like to…”
“This one here,” the man said, again pointing to the second duck, “is a beautiful bird. It’s very rare, though. I think, only a few thousand left in the wild.”
Then, before I could continue this topic using the words ‘endangered’ and/or ‘species’, the man smiled proudly. “My son shot one just last weekend.”