Sunday, March 29, 2015

Easter Pre-mortem: Memories of Egg Hunts Past

This time next week, those of us who survived will be cleaning up the fur, blood and chocolate left over from Easter morning. We will remember those we lost and dread their reincarnation as a blood thirsty rabbit and the vengeful return they will make next year. But why focus on the dark and horrifying Easter traditions when there are so many good parts?
                One of the best Easter traditions is the Easter Egg Hunt. A bunch of brightly colored plastic eggs, filled with candy and then scattered around an expansive field for children to scurry around and find. It’s magical. It was also the scene of most of my greatest competitive triumphs.
                As a child, I was – and I’m not bragging when I say this – no worse than the second greatest egg-hunter of my generation. Much like the Williams sisters in tennis, my younger sister and I spent years jockeying between first and second in the rankings. One of us was always at the top of every nationally-recognized and respected egg-hunting poll. Our names are still said in hushed whispers in churches and YMCAs around the greater Roxborough, PA area as spring dawns, for fear we may return like the souls of rabbit-ravaged loved ones.

                Some described us as having a sixth sense that allowed us to sense when candy was near. Others said we already had that sense – smell – and that ours was simply a cut above what other children possessed. Other onlookers said we sensed the eggs through an echolocation ability like of a bat or a dolphin. Still others chalked it up to steroids. We were tested before each competition and never tested positive.
                I’m not sure what was behind our success as egg-hunters. I asked my parents about their own egg-hunting backgrounds, but they were always, suspiciously, dodgy.            
                Whatever the cause, my sister and I would snatch up dozens and dozens of eggs, while the other children spun in circles, waved to their parents or chased down the first butterfly of the year. Eventually, we got so good and other kids’ parents got so sick of having to watch their offspring disappoint them, the YMCAs and churches put a limit on the number of eggs each kid could claim. That number was three, an embarrassingly low haul. Hardly even worth the effort of navigating the blood-soaked, post-Easter morning streets. But we did and we had our three eggs and were back in the car while parents were still goading their children towards a bush or a tree.
                Soon, we aged out of the program. Unlike basketball or football, there was no next level for us. Once you got to a certain age as an egg-hunter, there was nowhere else to go. As time passed, my skills atrophied. I can’t speak for my sister, but I’m sure she’s suffered the same fate.
                Eventually, I met a girl whose family has an egg hunt for the kids and adults every Easter. This was years after my final formal competition. For the last nine years I’ve competed, but I’ve never won. I attribute this failure to all of those years I was forcibly separated from the competitions that I held so dear. Imagine telling Lebron James he couldn’t play basketball after grade school? Or little Barracky Obama he couldn’t lecture once he hit thirteen? If you suddenly threw them back out there as full-fledged adults, chances are they would struggle to get their old game back again just as I have.
Excuse my language, but it’s a goddamn shame. It’s also life.
Perhaps my own children will be world-renowned egg-hunters one day. If they are, I will make they have somewhere to practice their skills after the world deems them too old for formal competition. That way, they won’t lose their gift like I have. And if, as an adult, they find themselves with a bag in one hand and a field-full of bright, treat-fill vessels before them, they’ll be ready.
Primed to claim their fill.    

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