Egg on my Face

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My family believed in celebrations because those always came with food. And while the food itself was scrumptious, the whole scenario of sitting around, catching up on each other’s week, and relaxing with a cup of coffee and a slice of key lime cake was the real draw that partnered well with holidays. But even my mom had limits on the merrymaking, and one of those involved the Easter Bunny.

This is the way we roll in my family ... and this is only a portion of the offerings

This is the way we roll in my family … and this is only a portion of the offerings

The Easter Bunny was a festive icon that was never embraced in the Carver household. Even as a child, I always knew that the chocolate covered marshmallow rabbits that crossed the door were the compliments of the Dollar General and never the bounty received from an overgrown hare capable of bipedal locomotion while carrying a wicker basket filled with plastic, green grass. Sure, he was cute, but as the product of an agrarian society, he was also a tough sell. I mean, come on. Rabbits don’t lay eggs, and if he was peddling stolen goods, then he would have needed the help of a raccoon or a fox since those were the miscreants that farmers had to chase out of the henhouse. Bunnies never did much more than sneak into a garden and work over your squash blooms before their time, and you didn’t see them laden with multicolored vegetables.

The origins of an Easter basket sans rabbits

The origins of an Easter basket sans rabbits

But I do remember one Easter egg hunt that lives on in that file I have marked “Childhood Memories.” It was the year I found the prize egg. As an eight year old, I was at the peak of my egg-scouting skills, since I was still childish enough to run without fear of being labeled “uncool,” and yet, I was also smart enough to realize that the best eggs weren’t going to be perched on the church sign out front. If you wanted any chance of landing that Holy Grail of poultry products, you had to be willing to crawl, to dig, and to elbow when the chaperones weren’t looking. And I wanted that prize egg in the worst way. The year before the kid who had landed the prize egg received a blow-up bunny that was almost as tall as I was. You could hold its paw and take walks with it or simply bring it along and recount your victory to all of your friends who stood there coveting your carbon dioxide friend. So you can imagine my feelings of triumph when I fought my way into the bowels of a behemoth Cedar tree and wrapped my little mitts around that champion’s egg. I clutched that plastic trophy, formerly packing for women’s pantyhose, and wiggled my way back out, a little scratched for the effort but reveling in my glee.

The moment was short-lived. When it came time to take the winner’s podium, I was informed that the prize was inside the egg itself. I cracked open that egg to find a lousy five dollar bill, and my dreams of the giant bunny died. My great prize was fated to slip through the slot in the top of my owl bank, and a part of me felt the injustice of dozens of scratches all for something as ignominious as money. Prize egg indeed.

So I think between the egg hunt and faulty logic behind the Easter bunny itself, my focus will have to remain on the spiritual aspects of the day. But I’ll still buy lots of discounted chocolate bunnies the day after.

 

© 2014 – Traci Carver

Gun Play

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Yesterday I witnessed several murders. People died by gunshots, swords, and foam pool noodles. That last method took a while and left pieces of aquatic pasta all over my floor. I know this for a fact because I observed these gristly deeds as I do every year. The location for this massacre was the front of my classroom, and the people who died were Montagues and Capulets. I could have helped them, I suppose, but why interfere with fate?

Death by pool noodle - not as painless as one might imagine

Death by pool noodle – not as painless as one might imagine

The assignment requires students to write a modern day version of the bard’s classic that retains the original meaning. While last year’s group took the cake with props and preparation, this group held their own with creativity. I watched Romeo and Juliet join the Kardashian clan, and I must say that the drama performed in front of my marker tray was some of the best stuff that family has produced to date. At least it looked real. Then I saw the two warring factions square off as social media competitors, and all conflict had to be interpreted through hashtags and Facebook status lines. But the most gripping moment came when Lord Capulet took Juliet’s cell phone as punishment. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as members of the audience reached down to possessively pat their own device as they tried to envision such a horrible fate.

The words "cell phone restriction" and "fate worse than death" are interchangeable to students.

The words “cell phone restriction” and “fate worse than death” are interchangeable to students.

Aside from the themes, students put their all into acting, as they delivered lines and waved Nerf guns in the air. They were allowed to carry their scripts, but even then over eagerness sometimes got the better of them as they missed cues or skipped ahead. Of course, you had to know the play like a Thespian to catch such subtle nuances, but it wasn’t hard for an old pro like myself.

“Halt, I say, Tybalt, or – What are you doing, man? You’re supposed to be over there – or I’ll be forced to draw my – Why did you hit me in the arm? We don’t fight for two more lines- sword and take you out!”

But I think my favorite moment came with the group that used a gun app on their phones. These phones had a picture of a gun on their screens that would cock and shoot with authentic sound effects. Of course, during the double suicide scene between the two star-crossed lovers, Juliet had trouble getting the gun to fire, so Romeo resurrected himself, punched a couple of buttons, then lovingly fired a bullet into the temple of his young bride before resuming his pose of eternal rest. Now that’s true love.

And I’m pretty sure that if Shakespeare could see all the flavors added to his 500 year old classic, he’d be in search of his own happy dagger.

© 2014 – Traci Carver

There’s Peanuts and Then There’s Just Nuts …

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We’ve always been the type of family to own pets. Never too many at one time, you understand, but we always had one good yard dog and a friendly house cat, maybe two. But in recent years, the felines that have come to live with my mom have been a tad on the strange side. Let’s take Mr. Billy, as an example.

Mr. Billy was a gift from my brother, who had the very best of intentions. He was a Ragdoll breed and was probably the prettiest cat I’ve ever seen with his seal point markings and bright, blue eyes. His breed was known to be lap cats, and for this reason alone, my brother just knew that my mom was going to love him. He even came with papers, which was a real change from the kittens we normally picked up at the dump. But there was a problem with Mr. Billy. His high breeding and sophisticated bloodlines had left him nervous about life in general, and he had a terrible compulsive disorder that manifested anytime Mom tried to change the furniture in the living room. The day she rearranged the recliners, he strolled in from a nap, saw the chaos, and began howling in earnest. The very idea that people should watch television facing due west was more than his tender nerves could bear, and subsequently, became more than any of our nerves could bear, either. Restructuring applied to people as well as to sofas, and if Mom and Dad tried to switch places from their assigned seats, Mr. Billy would dart back and forth between the two, screaming about a world gone mad until my parents relented and put the universe back in its proper place. He was a fragile soul that never would sit in laps, but he looked lovely curled up on an ivory afghan.

Years after the departure of Mr. Billy, mom found herself the benefactor of feline charity in the form of two kittens she dubbed Linus and Lucy. While not from an aristocratic family tree, they still came with eccentricities that we link back to the unconventional manner of their birth: they were found in an empty cement mixer in July. So while it’s difficult to ascertain if soaring Florida temperatures did anything to upset the delicate balance of their psyche, we knew from the beginning that mom had a couple of atypical felines on her hands. They gnawed wallpaper from the sheet rock like a couple of termites with an appetite for interior design, and to this day they have a difficult time with sudden movements that they deem sinister in nature. Like opening the refrigerator. One crack of that door and Lucy will all but rupture a disk hightailing it around the hall corner, claws clicking along the wood floors, to disappear under the bed where she will remain for a modest 6 hours or until I go home. Anytime Mom and I observe one of their psychotic episodes, we simply wag our heads and say, “A little too long in the cement mixer.”

Linus is thinking, "Little does she know, I just unraveled great-grandmother's pink doily."

Linus is thinking, “Little does she know, I just unraveled great-grandmother’s pink doily.”

 

Mom sometimes mentions that she wouldn’t mind having a little dog in the house, but I always ask her, “What if you get one like Linus and Lucy?” And that sobering thought is enough to stave off any adorable canines for the immediate future.

© 2014 – Traci Carver