White Goose’s Reign of Terror

This was not unusual. Parents of small children must keep to a strict schedule of Ruining Everything to prepare their brood for the challenges of life. It is important to get all your tantrumming out of the way as a child when you get the wrong colour cup, so that as an adult you can cope when your favourite movie is remade, or people like a new fad that you don’t like.

Up until this point, my parents’ preferred method of Ruining Everything was letting my sister sit in my chair and stopping us from watching Jurassic Park on endless repeat. The goose came as a surprise.

If you have ever met a goose, you know where this is going. You probably have your own Goose Story. In fact, you are probably cowering behind the couch right now because if you’ve met a goose and aren’t afraid of geese, either your name is Chuck Norris or you’re lying. And even if you are Chuck Norris, I’m sceptical.

Geese are objectively terrifying.

If you haven’t met a goose and think I’m exaggerating for the sake of humour, enjoy it while it lasts. Your Goose Story will come for you. Maybe it will happen on a picnic. Maybe when you stop your car on a road trip for a quick pee a goose will catch you with your pants around your ankles. Maybe it will happen inside your own house. One day, you’ll learn.

Just like I did.

Before this all unfolded, I thought I knew about geese. We had a large yard with a utopia of poultry—chooks, ducks and two geese. The geese were sisters. They had been my parents’ pets longer than I had been their child. They were lovely and gentle and shy. And, perhaps, this is the more noteworthy Goose Story. We called them the Grey Geese.

Maybe the Grey Geese are why my dad—who had been around longer than me, had met more geese, and really should have known better—thought a new goose would be just the thing.

The new goose was beautiful. He was sleek and pristine white with a submarine yellow beak and cornflower eyes. If he were human, he would not need Instagram filters. He was the Miss Universe of geese.

We called him White Goose.

He came for my brother first.

That first attack crossed a line that could not be uncrossed. White Goose got a taste for violence, and nothing would stop him.

My Goose Story was not a single event. It was not an afternoon of alarm followed by a good night’s sleep and amused retellings, the way my Emu Story was. My Goose Story was a nightmare cycle, an abusive relationship, a siege. My Goose Story was like camping in Jurassic Park. In fact, if you ever meet anyone who doubts that birds evolved from dinosaurs, introduce them to a goose.

Dad, the instigator of the madness, insisted that it wasn’t so bad.

It was that bad.

Our yard was no longer our yard, it was White Goose’s. I could not come and go as I pleased. I could not play where I liked. It was like getting the pink cup when I really wanted the green one. White Goose was, figuratively speaking, sitting in my chair. And my parents were allowing it.

Unacceptable.

(You have to get your tantrumming out of the way young.)

So instead of trying to avoid White Goose, I decided I would outsmart him. I would go where I wished. I would play where and how I wanted. No goose would stop me.

I tried being tall.

I tried being fierce.

And in one memorably innovative and stupid attempt I tried wearing armour.

Although actually I’m the eldest sibling, children under ten are basically tiny Bond villains minus the funding, and memories are a bit vague after two decades, so for the sake of honesty I should mention that there’s a chance that last one went a little differently.

Accounts vary.

In the end, I had to admit defeat. I could not outsmart a goose. White Goose had won. He reigned supreme over out yard for several long years, until one night he met with a large marauding dog.

We were free.

For a while.

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22 thoughts on “White Goose’s Reign of Terror

    1. Yes, I have. Allie Brosh is a comic genius.

      (I worked my butt off making sure this was not the same story as that, especially because the way I combine text and illustrations is so similar to her stuff.)

      1. Isn’t she?!??!?! I love her.

        That definitely would have been tricky, since your story structure and hers are the same format (and especially with this story as the subject matter is so similar). You did a FANTASTIC job though – the stories feel really different and are both epic and hilarious!!!

        I was just going to turn you onto it if you hadn’t read it – but this raises a question for me. Just curious (feel free to not answer) – did you feel you had to leave something out of your story or change your approach on an illustration because it would have been too similar to hers?

      2. Hmm. I was very aware of the situation and really focused on approaching it a different way. At first it felt like I’d have to leave things out and to make it less alike–less goose, less humour, less everything–but the solution was (I think) the exact opposite. I added more–more of my personality, more of my ideas, more of my family and more of my goose (who was a different goose after all). And I’m really pleased with how that worked out.

        In more practical terms, I think the big differences are the time frame and voice. Her goose story is a couple of hours. Mine is a childhood. And that suits both our styles too, as she often goes for more action-based, blow-by-blow accounts (and very much uses her illustrations for that) and I tend to do a chatty first-person-omniscient authorial voice sort of thing (I’m not sure if that makes sense, but it’s how I think of what I do).

  1. in-4t-u-(in)nately, I also (like U predictulated) have a goose story, or 3. one of the more-memorable? was when one of the Geese of the Lake tried to copulate with one of my son’s friends who was trying to swim …

  2. Storm troopers disguised as country garden ornaments. We had one that would slink around picnics in the garden stealing beer and wine from unguarded glasses. Loved your story.

  3. My uni campus (UQ) had geese that lived around the lakes. They were massive and ferocious. Pretty sure they had teeth. Didn’t know geese had teeth. Anytime I had to walk past the lakes, I’d give them a wide berth.

    1. My uni campus surrounded a lake. I had to walk to class through a minefield of geese every morning because they camped out in the courtyard outside my student housing. The geese learned very quickly that I had absolutely no reservations about kicking them if they decided to pick a fight, so for the most part all I had to endure from them was a chorus of hissing whenever I passed by.

      My favorite thing about the whole situation was that there was a man the uni hired to drive around the paths in a little Zamboni-like vehicle to remove the droppings whenever they began to pile up. Truly those were golden days when the Poo Man made his rounds.

      1. That is hilarious! Imagine having that in a job description… Very important job though, no doubt.
        Good to hear your geese responded to authority (i.e. kicking). I never even got within kicking distance of our campus geese

      2. Wait, the answer was kicking? ALL ALONG?

        (But actually dad tried that–or at least a non-animal-cruelty-firm-foot-push–and it just topped-up White Goose’s hate engine).

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