easter eggs

easter-eggs

In these modern times, a lot of religious holidays have become the subject of considerable scrutiny – or at least hilarious joke fodder. Poking fun at this, while enjoyable, is not my area of expertise. I’ll leave jokes about “what does Jesus have to do with a fat man delivering presents to kids?” or “Jesus is back! Quick, hide the eggs and cook the pigs!” to smarter and more accomplished comedians. Religious affiliations aside, I choose to embrace these holidays for what they are: an excuse to be gluttonous with your loved ones and engage in otherwise ridiculous activities rationalized under the banner of “tradition.” This past Easter, one of my first away from my mother’s endless buffet of home-cooked holiday delights, was destined to be one to remember.

See, at this point in my life, my girlfriend – Emma – and my roommate’s girlfriend – Andrea – both were babysitters for hire. Arguably part time nannies, I mostly refer to them as the mercenaries of child care because there were days when Emma would literally bounce from one family to the next babysitting upwards of three different sets of twins at one time. That sort of action is illegal in some states. If for no other reason than there are too many names to remember.

Why is this relevant? Well, my room mate and I, both young men, found ourselves often times listening to our lady friends chit-chat about… their kids. They would laugh about how goofy they were or they would complain about the frustrations. At my place in life, it was strange to hear things like “Oh my gosh I know! They just hate to put their shoes on!” It got to a point where I was pretty sure I had a son.  Or two. I felt like I knew these kids and I hadn’t even met them. Hadn’t even seen photos. I could just imagine his little head of red hair running… wait, he’s a brunette?… roll it back – I could just imagine his little head of brown hair running through the yard. Our make-believe games of catch were countless. His imaginary football spiral getting better each time.

It only made sense then that, come Easter time, I pitched the following to the girls: “Wouldn’t it be fun if your kids came over for an Easter egg hunt?”  The looks I got were empty. It hit me almost as quickly as I finished the sentence.

‘Oh, shit. That’s right. These kids have actual parents. Parents that are going to want to hide eggs for them. How selfish. I’ve spent all this time playing hypothetical games of hide and seek and then when a holiday rolls around they swoop right in for the good stuff.’

In a weird way, I’d felt like I lost this child I’d never even met in a custody battle with parents whose names I didn’t even know. While in my post-Easter-egg-suggestion-shame, the girls chimed in with an unexpected amount of enthusiasm – “Forget the kids! I wanna hunt for Easter eggs!”

We all had a laugh and the subject was changed. They had moved past it. Not me. If I couldn’t hide eggs for my hypothetical children, I was going to hide eggs for these (very real) girls. And it was going to be magical.

In the days to come, I went to the grocery store and purchased a few dozen plastic eggs and the accompanying candy prize that would live inside of them. While doing so, I enjoyed the occasional mother who would stop me and ask, “Aww, how old are your kids?” The first time I just laughed as I thought of the true answer ( “23 and 24. One is actually older than me. Yeah – figure that shit out” ) but instead of confuse the daylights out of her, I just said – “No, sorry, I don’t have any kids.” Which, considering my shopping cart at the time, likely raised a few follow up questions I was lucky to avoid.

On Saturday, my room mate, myself, and the ladies in question enjoyed a standard Easter Eve tradition of drinking copious amounts of alcohol while attempting to conquer the classic architectural disaster game: Jenga. (If that’s not an Easter Eve tradition in your household, consider adding it to next year’s itinerary – you won’t regret it). I wasn’t going to be able to hide the eggs that night so, while we were all preparing for bed, – like any good father (fake or not) – I set an alarm despite my stupor.

 

I woke up to the violent beeps of my alarm doing it’s damnedest to cut through the haze that the previous night’s spirits had cast over me. I turned it off and stood up. I knew what I had to do. I walked through my bedroom, a hung-over twenty-four year old and I emerged into the living room: The Easter Bunny – and still really hung-over.

Easter ammo in hand I looked around the living room. Did I have the focus to find creative locations for over twenty plastic eggs? There was only one way to find out. It took everything in my power not to just drop the bag of eggs in the middle of the living room and let the treats roll to their own hiding spots. Allowing me to go back to bed sooner. But that would make me a crappy fake dad. And that wasn’t going to do.

So I hid them. In the lamp, the DVD rack, the entertainment unit, the couch, the bookshelf, you name it. And I still had a bunch left. I was going to have to expand past just the living room. I was on an egg-hiding rampage. Driven by adrenaline and holiday spirit I flew through the front yard, into the back yard and all through the house. It was a blur of pastel eggs and sneaky hiding places. It was the makings of a brilliant Easter egg hunt. I just had to make sure I could remember where they all were. But that was for later in the day. Right then, I needed to go back to bed.

 

I woke up for the second time feeling refreshed. It turns out that anxious and hopeful excitement is a strong hangover cure. I didn’t say anything to anyone; I just let the eggs sit around the house inconspicuously. I waited for hours. Bright orange and yellow eggs in, what I thought was, plain sight and no one was noticing. It was almost lunchtime when I finally heard it – “Wait! What is this?!” Andrea had found Egg Numero Uno. All eyes shot over to me and the shit-eating grin that I was unable to hide said: ‘Let the games begin.’

Mike and I stepped back out of the living room as frenzy took over the girls. There were eggs to be found and they were going to do it, damn it. In a true sign of my fake-fatherhood, I grabbed the closest things I could for them to use as baskets.

Andrea’s basket: A jacko-lantern Halloween decoration that was full of spare electrical cables.

Emma’s basket: A vase full of bottle caps that represented all of the beers consumed in the house.

Not ‘#1 Dad’ material but it was something. Regardless of their egg holding receptacles, I watched with pride. The girls searched high and low with smiles from ear to ear. They were certain they’d looked everywhere “Are you sure there’s more eggs?” Yes. I’m sure. Keep looking. The simple, childish adventure was irresistibly adorable to watch – even if, in the back of my mind, I knew that both of these women had Bachelor’s Degrees.

Every time things would slow down, I would – with the practiced fake-curiosity that comes with parenthood – mention a new room we could look in – “oh, well maybe there’s more eggs in the backyard!” and their eyes would light up. A whole new region of childish fun to explore.

I felt Father-ly. Parental. It was everything I could do not to grab a crappy, outdated VHS recorder and film the events that took place in front of me. Capturing all of the “Well, you know, I already got the one in the tree. You’re sure there’s more?!” With the traditional shaky camera style that is so indicative of home videos. All the while having banter behind the camera with my non-existent wife –

“Are you sure it’s recording?”

“Yes I’m sure.”

“Well is the light on?”

“Yes. It’s on. Now be quiet.”

“Ok. Just making sure. We could get on America’s Funniest Home Videos. That Bob Saget is a riot.”

It took about an hour but they found all the eggs. A victory to them that would rival at least Lance’s first five Tour wins. Then, to wrap things out – the girls sat in the living room eating the candy that each egg promised them, while I plopped the ham in the oven to make sure it would be ready in time for dinner.

I was twenty-four years old and I was a father. Funny part of it all was – I didn’t even have any kids.

 

- dc

 

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