A hard-headed kid


Last week, The Wife did something she rarely does. She asked if I could write a story — an Easter story. Surely, during those seven years my three brothers, The Sister and I spent growing up on Flamingo, there was at least one story about Easter.

At a loss for words, something rare I assure you, I rubbed my head. Just then a distant and painful memory surfaced. Rubbing my head again, my fingers found the old familiar dent.

“As a matter of fact, I do remember one story. But you’re not gonna believe it. I was the only kid who lived on Flamingo that went to an Easter egg hunt at church and ended up in the hospital.”

Easter around our house was a big thing every year. Mom and The Sister always got a new dress — the twirly kind to wear to Sunday morning church. But my three brothers and I got new long-sleeved, white shirts that buttoned up to our chins and around our wrists. They were just about impossible to put on and almost as hard to get off.

But it got worse. We had to wear a suit coat and pointy, shiny, “only going to church” shoes. The shoes pinched our toes together making running unbearable.

One Sunday I complained to Dad, and he said, “You’re wearing those shoes because God doesn’t want you to run in church.” But worse than the white, long-sleeved shirt with a gazillion buttons and pinchy shoes was the neck-strangling tie.

Dad let each of us boys choose our color tie. Mine was fire-engine red. That was the only thing I liked about the yard-long piece of fabric Dad tied around my neck.

He loved that we all wore ties to church. I didn’t. Thought it was a big mistake. A tie dangling down to my belt buckle just gave my brothers another way of dragging me around the yard and no way of escape.

Still, every Sunday us boys would don our shirts with the gazillion buttons, squeeze into our shiny, pinchy shoes, and lasso a tie around our necks.

With Mom and The Sister in their twirly dresses, we crammed into the avocado green station wagon with the faux wood panels and headed off to Sunday morning church services, but on Easter we left thirty minutes earlier due to the Easter Egg Hunt.

Preacher Jim hadn’t cut the front lawn at our church for two weeks so come Easter morning, it was tall enough to easily hide four dozen colorful eggs plus one plastic golden egg with a solid chocolate rabbit hidden inside. Even though hampered by a tight suit coat, a long-sleeved shirt with a gazillion buttons, pinchy shoes and a red neck-strangling tie, I was determined to find the golden egg and bite the head off that yummy bunny.

As we spilled out of the station wagon, a slight breeze was causing the sea of emerald green grass of the front lawn to wave back and forth, as if beckoning a friendly hello.

“Wade on in, children. The grass is warm. Find the Easter eggs hidden within.” A cloudless blue sky provided the perfect backdrop for girls in their twirly dresses and boys in their suits, gazillion button, long-sleeved shirts, and pinchy shoes.

All had two things in common – an empty Easter basket and a desire to be the one to find the golden egg. Preacher Jim lined us up shoulder to shoulder across the far end of the lawn, then, with arms held towards Heaven, he suddenly dropped them and yelled, “Go!”

Children with woven baskets swinging this way and that spilled out across the lawn like a tidal wave of ants crawling over a piece of hard candy dropped on their mound. The small army of giggling and squealing children spent the next ten minutes plucking colorful eggs out from their hiding places.

With only a few in my basket, I noticed most were hidden close to the church building. Starting a search within a foot of the building, I quickly found six more. Then, suddenly, Older Brother Richard grabbed my tie, stopped my advance and pushed past me. He’d discovered my egg finding technique!

I returned the tie-jerking favor, knocking him temporarily off balance. That’s when the sun shined on my prize – the golden egg! The last thing I remember was pushing past Richard and reaching down to grab my chocolaty bunny prize.

When we got to the hospital, I finally woke up. Seems the old, first-floor metal awning windows had been cranked out to let the cool morning air into the church classrooms, and I had run headfirst into the corner of one of those windows.

When we got home, Dad threw away my blood-stained, white, long-sleeved shirt with a gazillion buttons and stained red tie. He also did something else as he put an ice pack on my bandaged head. He handed me the golden egg.

That day I received five stitches, a permanent dent in my forehead, and a memory that has lasted a lifetime. I also got something else. I got to bite the head off that solid chocolate bunny.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]