Easter Memories

Many years ago, my pop decided to take my brothers and me to a big, organized Easter egg hunt. Colored eggs had been hidden all over a city park in our small town—including one gold egg. The kid that found it was to receive a fabulous prize—perhaps candy for life. Plus a gift certificate for unlimited orthodontia.
The huge throng of kids, including my brothers and me, were lined up on various starting lines. Everyone was staggered several feet apart so that the littlest kids would get a head start over bigger ones. That meant the youngest kids—say, under a foot high—were placed in front, while the older kids—say, those with beards and tattoos—were placed in the back.

But when the starting whistle was blown, the big kids ferociously bounded past the tiny ones—like sharks elbowing their way through a school of minnows. (If sharks had elbows, the preceding simile would have been brilliant.)

The scene was straight out of “Lord of the Flies.” Kids were crying, rolling, screaming, kicking, wailing and punching—in perfect imitation of their parents.
Finally, in the midst of the throbbing throng, a kid who looked old enough to be working in a liquor store emerged with the gold egg. His was the only face among the hundreds who was smiling.

Afterwards, the proud father of the gold egg-finder told my dad: “Egg hunts are good training for life, you know.”
“How so?” Dad said.

The guy hitched his pants a bit and said, “To succeed in life, you’ve got to outmaneuver
the competition, be tough—and never settle for second best.”

It also helps to have a little insider information—because it was later discovered that
the kid’s dad had been among the committee of parents in charge of hiding the eggs in
the first place.

The resulting scandal was the biggest in our small town since—during a mayoral debate—a candidate sneaked a whoopee cushion onto his opponent’s chair. The candidate defended his actions saying he had gotten tired of his opponent’s constant mudslinging—and had decided to go “toot for tat.”

Eventually, my parents decided that we kids could have just as much fun if we staged an egg hunt in our own yard. Plus, our house sat next to a forest, so there were plenty of hiding places, bushes and cranny-laden stumps nearby.

Our folks would hide a bunch of colored eggs—behind an arborvitae, under a rock or nestled into the lawn—and then cut us loose to find them. The lawn was a particularly perilous place though, since the neighbor’s dog regularly used our yard to do his business. So before actually picking up an egg, it was important to “trust and verify.”
Nobody ever kept a careful accounting of just how many eggs had been hidden in
the yard—so one or two wouldn’t be discovered until the hottest days of August, when we’d run over them with the lawn mower.

The smell would be familiar to anyone with a brimstone collection.

But the Easter I remember best was the one when Dad announced he had a big surprise. We had all returned from church, eaten a breakfast and then were ushered outdoors. There on the lawn was a small cage—and inside were two, long-eared, pink-eyed white bunnies.

“You kids have been wanting a pet,” Dad said. “I thought it’d be nice if you had two
of them.”

Actually, we were hoping for just one dog—but this was a start.
Dad opened the cage door carefully, reached in and pulled out the two rabbits. He sat them on the lawn. Their little noses twitched the way rabbit noses tend to do. Their cute little pink eyes blinked sweetly. Their little rabbit tails wiggled eagerly.

My brothers and I were enthralled. We started tossing around names: “Let’s call
them ‘Twinkie and Blinkie!” I suggested. Another brother offered “Hippy and Hoppy.”
I think even “Eddie and Jack Rabbit” were mentioned.
But “Butch and Sundance ” might have been better, because suddenly, as if shot from a double-barreled cannon—our pets of perhaps two minutes—escaped into the forest.
They were gone for good, despite days of searching.
Now that—better than any egg hunt—is real training for life.