At the end of every year, as digital media companies post their year-end lists about the best or the worst television shows and movies and podcasts. As writers tweet threads about their favorite articles they’ve published, I often wonder about everything we failed to remember. Because most things, and most people, are so simply average that we forget they even exist. What about everybody who was completely OK? Who slipped through the cracks of these past 12 months because they did nothing special, but nothing that terrible either?
So, to right a few wrongs, I’ve compiled things—mostly people, but some animals—who had incredibly, jaw-droppingly average 2018s.
The mandarin duck in Central Park, also known as “hot duck,” has captured the attention of the world. When he briefly went missing earlier this winter, somebody tracked him down in Northern New Jersey. He would not be lost. A beautiful duck who also commutes—we were in awe at his majesty. But at the expense of this lovely animal, we’ve paid little attention to his fellow creatures, those other ducks who wake up every day and go swimming. What about those ones who are totally OK? Our celebrity-driven culture overtook us. We could not be helped. We looked away from the plight of everybody else. And at what cost? Have we not listened as they quack away into the ether? Have we been that selfish, throwing our bread into a single direction for much too long? All the while we’ve been neglecting them, they’ve quacked on, floating in circles, flying away to places, perhaps, we’ve stopped looking.
It’s been a big year, of course, for Philly’s newest mascot, Gritty—and a completely average one for the previously weirder (yet still completely weird) Phanatic. We live in the era, now, of the 24/7 internet news cycle, so, between him (it?) becoming an Antifa icon, or nearly being TIME’s person of the year, it’s no wonder his counterpart has been largely forgotten—and has fallen deep into the annals of recent history. But lest we forget: In June, the bird-like thing/amorphous green blob with a vacuum-like mouth who cheers on the city’s baseball team was in the press in June when he accidentally shot a fan directly in the eye with a hot dog. The woman, Kathy McVay, was heralded for not taking the misfire too hard—“It gives people a good laugh, and if that makes somebody chuckle, then that’s fine,” she told ABC6—and the Phillies organization, for its part, offered her free tickets to any upcoming game. She forgave him for the misfire, and we all moved on, infatuated with the new guy, who, it seems, will forever overshadow his predecessor.
The pair met once this year, and, according to NBC, are now best friends.
Me and All My Friends
Let me assure you, it was as status quo as you can get when you’re talking about me and all my friends this year. (To be clear, when I say “all my friends,” I’m referring to three people.)
This was the big event, for me anyway: I moved out of one apartment, where I was living with my friend, and moved into another apartment, where I now live with another friend. (The final friend, that friend number three, relocated to Los Angeles, because it’s warm there, and he hardly knows anybody.) We all had minor, fleeting moments of success. Oh, and none of us got married, or have even pretended that’s happening anytime soon.
Jake, My Bodega Guy
I first started chatting with Jake, one of my new bodega guys, when I noticed him watching John Wick 2 on his cellphone. He’s young—he can’t be much older than 20. That day, he was standing behind the counter, avoiding making me a sandwich, because he said his co-worker did it better, which is true. I told him he might be better off watching the action flick on a larger screen, because carnage is hard to appreciate when you have to squint. He waved me off and said something about how he couldn’t hold a television in his hands at work. We became fast friends in that way often specific to the service industry: I speak, quickly and often, about nonsense, and he just wants to be left alone. This year, after the John Wick 2 afternoon screening, I began greeting Jake with an ordinary, not too fancy, “How are you doing?”
His answer, always, was: “Fine.”
In November, the internet erupted over a gigantic Australian cow named “Knickers” (who turned out to be a steer, but who cares). At six foot and four inches, and almost 2,800 pounds, he has continuously avoided the slaughterhouse by his sheer immensity. (He has literally become too big to kill.) But much like Central Park’s OK-looking ducks, the cows around him, standing tall in their averageness, have relatively been overlooked.
It would be pretty hard to tell how large that cow is if it weren’t for all those other small cows surrounding him, wouldn’t it? Have you ever once thought about the juxtaposition they provide, wandering around at a complete normal size and weight?
Honestly, I think I heard from her once, and we had a conversation about how some people in her retirement facility are better than her at mahjong, while others aren’t. (Unrelated, but she reminded me that getting old sounds really fun.)
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