Riikard Havik talks to Chuck the Guck Man
RH: Let’s cut to the chase. Those rumours about a musical based on your life…true or false?
CHUCK: I thought you might ask about that. I don’t know who let the Cat out of the bag, so to speak, but yes, it’s true, or as true as it can be without it being a reality yet. The working title is, “Every Inch a Guck Man.”
RH: Really. I thought it might be “CHUCKles the Guck Man.” Why a musical?
CHUCK: Well, let’s face it: the life of a guck man isn’t exactly dramatic. Besides, it’s meant to be a sort of feel good thing: a celebration of Park life and the Animals who do the basic work that needs to be done here.
RH: So, you would call guck making a necessity and not a luxury?
CHUCK: It’s by no means a luxury! We have to attend to our ocular health. It’s critical.
RH: Now, there are other guck men in The Park, but you have the epithet “beloved” attached to your name…
CHUCK: I didn’t give myself that epithet, you know.
RH: Yes, I know, but do you have any theories as to why you are so beloved?
CHUCK: I think trust has a lot to do with it. I’m a fourth-generation Guck Man, which means my customers can count on me. I’m no fly-by-nighter, although I do work primarily at night. But all my guck is made in-house at my family’s three laboratories and all of it is delivered and applied by me. If something goes wrong, I’m here to set it right.
RH: That’s a lot of work, isn’t it? I don’t think we realize how much is involved in being a guck man.
CHUCK: It’s a busy life. It’s seven days a week, most weeks of the year. I take a bit of time off every now and then. But it’s rewarding.
RH: What would you tell the younger generation about guck-making that would make them want to join your ranks?
CHUCK: Well, first of all, you’ve gotta love it. For me, that’s easy. It’s in my blood. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t in the lab with my dad or grandfather, watching that guck bubble up in the tubes. But there are actually two things you’ve gotta love. One is guck and guck-making and the other is just as important and that’s other Animals. If you don’t love that part of it, you’re going to burn out quickly. You have to love your customers and want the best for them. I’m not saying that’s easy. Sometimes, it’s hard. But you have to care about them. Otherwise, what are you doing this for?
RH: If you hadn’t been a guck man, what do you think you’d have wanted to be?
CHUCK: You thought you’d trip me up there, didn’t you? But, actually, I have thought about that. And this might surprise you. I have a lot of admiration for Herman Stoat. We’ve become friends over the years…
RH: The choreographer?
CHUCK: Yes. And I think, if I hadn’t grown up surrounded by guck and guck men, I might well have tried to do something in the dance area. Choreography, maybe. Or maybe just dance. Or gymnastics. I do a bit of that on my own, when I have some free time.
CHUCK: Yes. Does that surprise you?
RH: In fact, it does.
CHUCK: Guck men are not one-dimensional, you know.
RH: I realize that.
CHUCK: Or you’re just realizing that, now.
RH: One last question, and it’s an easy one for you: what does the “guck” acronym stand for?
CHUCK: That is an easy one. Glutinous Unctuous Coagulated Knots. It may not sound pretty, but we couldn’t live without it.