Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter!

Now that Easter is upon us, I thought I would regale you with a particularly vivid memory I have of the holiday.

I was seven, and because church bored me to such an extent that I often found myself doodling rudimentary blueprints for a more aerodynamic Millenium Falcon, I was sent to the basement where, huddled around a small table with other easily-distracted children, I was to keep quiet so we could all hear the minister's sermon through the wall-mounted speaker near the tiny window that let in a meager shaft of natural light. There was a selection of used (and often chewed on) plastic toys and some coloring pages, and as long as we made no fuss Mrs. Lancaster would let us be. Even at my young age, I recognized a good deal when I saw one, so, not wanting to be sent back to my parents in the sanctuary, I would occasionally look to the speaker in an effort to prove my piety to the venerable Mrs. Lancaster.

Everything was going well until Darrell, a particularly loud and active kindergartener, dragged a chair over to the window and scaled it. Now, lest you think Mrs. Lancaster failed in her duties, let me assure you that she acted as quickly as any seventy-four year old woman with a bad hip could possibly be expected to. As our eyes turned to take in the sight of the precariously perched five year old, she pushed back from the table, sending the tiny chair she had occupied tumbling across the room. She stood (rather wobbily, if memory serves) and scolded, "Darrell! You get down from there!" To which young Darrell responded, "I see him! I see the Easter Bunny!"

After that, who could remember what happened? I am sure we all leapt to our feet and either begged Darrell a chance to see for ourselves or, quite possibly, some of the more aggressive youths may have attempted to dethrone the bunny-spotter, but whatever our actions we saw hide nor hare of the mythical creature. "He's gone now," I do recall Darrell announcing.

The bunny may have been gone, but our imaginations were just starting to hop. The Easter Bunny! Right here, at Riverside Presbyterian Church! Imagine the odds! Possibly due to the idleness our brains usually experienced while in His holy place, our minds soon reached alarming levels of activity. Making up for years of Sunday dormancy, we theorized, postulated, and hypothesized. What else could the Easter Bunny be doing at church but hiding eggs? Yes! There would be an Easter egg hunt following the service and the cunning bunny had just now concealed the colorful ova among the thistles, nettles, and occasional patches of grass on the church's East side.

Up the stairs! We pushed past Mrs. Lancaster, ignoring her beseeching cries of "Stop!" and "Come back here!" as we thundered up the stairwell. The full power of the sun's rays through the stained-glass windows nearly blinded us, but we soldiered on. Past the hanging coats, past the table of nametags, through the double doors and into the glorious day at last!

We stopped and scanned the grounds, still hoping for one fleeting glance of the elusive bunny, but it was not to be. As one, we deferred to the leadership of Darrell, the youngest of our excitable band, for he was the One Who Had Seen. "This way," he said. And we followed.

The grass was still wet with lingering morning dew and our breath hung in the air. We searched the lawn for a sign--a fluff of rabbit fur, a paw print, perhaps a pink or purple dropping--and found nothing. For three long minutes we searched. Under rocks, in the hedge, near the place where Reverand Rollins had buried the time capsule two years ago. Nothing. Not a single egg.

Mrs. Lancaster's voice cut the early spring air. "Get back in here!" she said menacingly, and so we trudged back over the lawn, dejected. My eyes were downcast in disappointment and possibly in shame. How would I ever explain this to my parents? Surely, they would henceforth enslave me to their not-too-close-to-the-front pew to be tortured by torturously long-winded sermons and off-key doxologies. How could I have been so gullible?

But then, just as one Nike-clad tennis shoe left a wet impression on the cracked concrete, a flash of color in the corner of my vision. The others were already disappearing through the church doors. Mrs. Lancaster waited, one hand planted firmly on her bad hip. I bent my head to get a better angle. Could it be? Over there, partially obscured by a unraked leaf at the corner of the church? I dashed for it. Mrs. Lancaster surely rebuked me, but if she did I didn't hear it. My focus was singular.

I reached the leaf and threw it off and there, gleaming and untarnished, sat a yellow egg, golden in the sun's rays. As I reached for it, I heard Mrs. Lancaster's now tremulous voice. "Have you found something?" she asked.

And I slid the leaf back over the egg. "No, Mrs. Lancaster. It was nothing."

The breath she expelled made a cloud in the air and I, without a glance back, walked past her into the church. Who was I to crush years of her disbelief?*




*The above is quite possibly a total fabrication.

10 comments:

Anita said...

My children know I'm the Easter Bunny and (funnier) that their dad is the tooth fairy. Otherwise, I think they'd be totally freaked at Easter time and tooth-losing time. My point: I was nowhere near your church on any Easter. Darrell needs counseling.

How are your revisions coming?

The Wife said...

Current favorite follower: Anita, for keeping you on task. :)

Jacqui said...

I could not read the post. I was laughing too hard at the Millenium Falcon bit...

Paul Michael Murphy said...

On task, on schmatsk! I have more contrivances to pen!

DebraLSchubert said...

Great story! And that's saying a lot coming from a nice Jewish American Princess from Long Island.;-)

Gretchen said...

Way cool story!!! I like time spent on these instead of revisions!!
Happy Easter to the Murphy clan!

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Thank you, all. Except maybe Anita, who has somehow become a Webospheric clone of my wife.

I can't imagine what those crazy Mormon polygamist men are thinking.

And the revisions are coming along fine.

Anita said...

I'm glad the revisions are coming along...while I love PPM's blog posts (and realize he may need to write them as an occasional diversion), I'm willing to experience a lapse in PPM's posts, so he can get his revisions in on a timely manner. On my own blog, I recently interviewed an agent regarding this very subject. In case PPM's wife did not see the interview, I'm posting an excerpt of it here so she'll have more ammunition for pressuring her husband:

Q: I have a few blog followers who've had agents request revisions. How much time do you think these writers have to make revisions, before the potential agents lose interest?

A: That's a tough (but good) question! I personally wouldn't ask for revisions unless I was pretty darn sure that I expected to offer representation. As a side note, when I like sample pages and ask for a full manuscript, I do generally expect to see that manuscript within about a week. So, it's a good idea to have your work done, ready, checked, edited before starting the submission process.

But, back to your original question. Let's say an agent contacts you and says, "I like the work, but I'd like to see XYZ." I think it would be great to write/call back and say, "sounds good - I agree with your ideas on XYZ and you can expect my finished, edited work by the end of the month." Or something like that. And, how long do you have? Well - a month or two if the revisions aren't huge seems reasonable. Remember that if you don't agree with the proposed revisions, it is perfectly ok to say so. Like I said before, it's YOUR art. If an agent sees something for your work that you don't see - s/he may not be the right agent for you.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

No pestering necessary. I was given a deadline of April 19 and I'm never late. In fact, I so despise tardiness that when I was in college I would skip the class altogether if I realized I was going to walk in after the session had already begun.

Kelly said...

Hilarious story!