Violet was clutching the three-dollar basket I’d bought for her as the wind whipped across the field unmercifully.
Watched her standing there, my four-year-old little girl, I could tell she was so excited. She was rocking on the balls of her feet, jitter-dancing from one leg to the other, trying hard to deal with the fact that she was staring out at a a couple football fields worth of bright pink and yellow and purple plastic Easter eggs, a piece of candy in every last one.
Henry, two, proudly lacked his sister’s restraint. As soon as we came withing fifty feet of the damn eggs spread out before us, it was only a lightning-fast hood grab by his mom that saved us from the show he would have put on for the hundreds of kids packed around the perimeter of the grounds.
Believe me, nothing would have stopped him. You would think that after a minute or so of full-blast maniacal Easter egg collecting he would have raised his head and suddenly wondered to himself: “Hmph. Where is everyone?!!”
But no. The dude does not think that way. He would have collected eggs on his own, a sole munchkin hunched over in the gale, until he eventually just collapsed out there in a heap of nap mode.
Monica, my wife, held his hand and talked to him gently about what to expect when the whistle blew. And how we don’t bite people.
“Two minutes!” came the cry from the megaphone.
“Get ready kiddo!,” I leaned down and whispered to my daughter.
All around us other kids had their parents in their ears too. Words of encouragement and light warnings not to go all loco when the madness began. I looked around me at all these parents and their little kids standing in the stupid cold early spring air just so we could all ‘hunt’ down a freaking tractor trailer load of fake eggs that were just plopped in the dead grass out there and I have to be honest: I actually felt a brief rare flash of camaraderie with a whole bunch of people at once.
I mean sure a lot of them have “Obamunist‘ bumper stickers on the backs of their rides, and yeah, if you took a poll you’d probably have about 90% of them who really really believe that their toddlers ought to be able to arm themselves at elementary school; nothing crazy, mind you, no big clips or anything; just like a 6-shot .45 maybe.
Nowadays, a moment of unity is a moment of unity and I take what I can get. And here, on this frigid edge of the candy-coated Easter Fields, at least for a moment or two, I felt pretty sure that I was amongst my people.
“Are these two children yours?” A woman was talking to me, to us, to my wife and me.
“Umm, wha?” I bumbled. I was all up inside my head, man, and in the brief moments before the Great Bellefonte Easter Egg Hunt of 2013 kicked off, I defiinitly hadn’t seen her, or this, coming at all.
Monica, who was still kneeling down next to Henry and holding his hand, looked up at the woman inquisitively. Oh the look on her face when I realized that my wife tasted something nasty before I had even bitten in.
“Well, the starting line for the event is actually over there behind that yellow tape,” the woman said flatly, pointing about thirty feet away where, yeah, there was a yellow tape that we simply hadn’t even noticed since there were freaking kids EVERYWHERE.
I looked at her.
I was trying to comprehend the situation. It truly was beyond my immediate reach. I looked over at the throbbing mass of youth behind the yellow tape she was pointing at and then I looked around at the shoulder-to-shoulder kids and their parents standing all around us, too.
Then it hit me. In my mind, I landed my plane. She was being bitchy wasn’t she? I settled down into a clear view of what was going on just as my wife unsheathed a dagger from her eyeball and asked the wench,”Pardon me?”
Oh my God, what’s happening???!!!, I screeched inside myself. THAT LOOK is Monica’s Warrior Face! I know it well! Were we leaping into serious battle here?
Were we doing this??!!
In a split second, I went from father just trying to soak in the atmosphere of a pretty cool afternoon to straight-up badass gangsta ninja. I jumped eight feet up in the air and did a triple twist that allowed my left foot (weapon deemed illegal in like 46 countries) to swish around and just…barely…..skim the edge of this lady’s fat nose in a show of superhuman parenting power that stood for all things just and right and solid in this world!
(Okay, that part is a daydream, but I honestly wish now that I had done it. Or that I even could do it, you know?)
The woman took one look at my wife and then at the cool mom standing next to my wife who was a stranger to us but who had also decided to fix a dagger-eye on this Egg Cop and she murmured a huffy “Nevermind!” and turned back to whatever damn rat’s nest she had just crawled out of.
But it was all too late; the air squealed out of my whole moment then. I couldn’t believe what had just happened, that a woman, an adult and a real life mom, would or even could ever give a donkey’s fart about which direction a bunch of tiny children would come at this field chock-full of eggs from. It was, and will forever remain, just baffling to me.
A minute later, we were all out there, rooting our kids on as they picked up eggs and simply walked away from a million more ( that’s how many there were). I watched my son hand an egg to a boy even smaller than him.
I smiled. There was pride shooting up into my skull, I’m not gonna lie.
But deep down in my guts, I felt super-disconnected from the exact thing I had felt so plugged into moments before.
You suck, lady, wherever you are.