The other night, Grammy was talking to Mom on the phone when she yelled: “Julie, your mom wants to talk to you! It’s something about bunnies.” So, my curiosity aroused, I come over and find out that “something about bunnies” translates into:
My mom is helping to organize an Easter egg hunt for disabled children at the Governors’ Mansion and she needs two people to dress up like Easter bunnies. She said, there are two full-body costumes that we wear, and since they have limited visibility, we have to have people guide us around the Mansion yard. She makes it sound so tempting, doesn’t she? Anyway, she somehow managed to guilt me into agreement. Mom is very good at guilting her children into doing things. Growing up, Mom never really yelled at us for anything very often. Instead, she would talk to us and make us feel bad about things, so that eventually, we would feel so guilty and terrible about ourselves, we would go to her crying with our apologies. We refer to it as The Guilt Factor. It used to make me feel so bad about whatever I did that I would cry for hours and then write her little apology notes and place them on her pillow because I was so ashamed I couldn’t talk to her face-to-face. People used to tell us how our mom was the nicest person and she never got mad or yelled at us. One time when Rachel was about four, one of Mom’s friends told her this and Rachel just looked at her and said: “My mom is quietly mean.” Despite what people believe, however, she does yell sometimes. I remember that whenever she would yell at us, the interaction usually went a little something like this:
Problem: Leaving stuff all around the house (this was the most common problem at our house. We used to have a Nickel Jar and whenever Mom had to pick up things we left around the house, she would hide them and we had to pay a nickel to get them back. Thus, unless it was really important, I would just let her keep the things I left around. That is until I found her hiding place and then I just snuck it all back.)
Mom: I CAN’T HANDLE THIS. YOU NEED TO PUT YOUR THINGS IN YOUR OWN ROOMS! I’M NOT HERE TO FOLLOW YOU AROUND AND CLEAN UP AFTER YOU!
Andy/Julie/Rachel/Logan: Gosh, fine Mom! Stop yelling at me! Why are you so mad?!
Mom: MAD?! MAD!!!?!??! I’M NOT EVEN CLOSE TO MAD?! DO YOU WANT TO SEE MAD!!???!
I don’t know why she always said this, because she was obviously already mad. Sometimes when we told her to stop yelling, she would ask us: “OH, DO YOU WANT TO HEAR YELLING?!?!??!” Which also confused me, because she was definitely already yelling and if there was any possibility that she wasn’t yelling already, then I absolutely never wanted to hear what yelling actually sounded like. Maybe I’ll understand this logic when I have children of my own. Or maybe I’ll just use The Guilt Factor on them so that my words can eat away at them from the inside.
Anyway, Mom then asked me if I had any tall friends to be the boy bunny and my friend AJ agreed. With enthusiasm, I must add. Actually, you have no idea how excited he was to do this. He even asked off work for it, and he NEVER asks off work. Mom also asked Grammy and Papa if they would like to volunteer; Grammy agreed, but Papa said: “I think I’m going to be feeling sickly on Saturday.”
So, Saturday afternoon, AJ and I arrived at the Mansion and found Mom, who then went around and introduced us to everyone there, who, in turn, thanked us heartily. Basically, since we were dressing up, it meant that none of them had to and for that they are eternally grateful.
Then, the moment we had all been waiting for. The excitement grew as we walked toward the entrance to the Mansion that would lead us to Mom’s office and the costumes that would become our identities for the next four hours. When we saw the large, white heads sitting on various chairs in Mom’s office, all we could do was laugh. My bunny head was pretty cute and it had a little pink bow on its ear, but AJ’s costume was scary. The head was really big and round and it looked kind of depressed.
The hunt started at 1pm, so when it was about 12:35 and Grammy still hadn’t showed up, Mom called her and she and Papa were sitting in Schulte’s (the grocery store) eating donuts. When they finally showed up, only Grammy came in and I asked her where Papa was. Apparently he had some very important things to do.
Mom walked AJ and I out to meet the parade of children and as we walked closer, one little girl started screaming: “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! You’re the real Easter bunnies! This is the greatest day! I love you! Oh my gosh!” It was adorable. I’m just glad the children thought we were great and not terrifying. Honestly, only a few children were scared of me, which was very surprising, because if I were them, I would have been scared of me. After we walked in and the Governor and First Lady gave a little speech, AJ and I had to grab hands, raise our arms in the air and drop them to signal the beginning of the egg hunt.
So, picture this: AJ and I are standing in bunny suits on the front lawn of the Governors' Mansion, right smack dab in the middle of all the Easter eggs. When we put our hands down, hundreds of children started running toward us, our limited visibility making it impossible to move out of the way to a safer location, so I just started looking frantically around for AJ or someone who could take us somewhere. I turn my large, fluffy head to see my mom taking AJ to the photo booth. At this point, I'm just standing there while children run in and out of my tunnel vision, so I just kneeled on the grass started talking to children. Luckily, a talking life-size bunny wasn't scary to them. And luckily I used to work at a preschool.
Favorite Easter Bunny Moments:
1. One child came up to me and started telling me how “There are two Easter bunnies here. Can you believe it!? TWO! I didn’t know there were two of you! And one of you can talk!” It was only later that I found out AJ had taken the role of Silent Bunny. He has never really been around lots of little children so when I told him that I had been talking to the kids, he just said: “What do you even talk to a four year-old about?! The only thing I could think of to say to them was ‘Happy Easter’ so I just decided not to talk.” Good thing Mom decided to leave me in the lawn and not AJ, The Silent Bunny. That would have been creepy if AJ was just standing out there by himself silently waving to children.
2. The excited little girl from the beginning of the parade ran up to me and started hugging me and saying: “I can’t believe it’s you! You’re the real Easter bunny and you’re here! This is the best! I love you, Easter bunny!!!” It was precious.
3. Another little boy came up with a handful of mushed up cookies and just stood right in front of me staring for a while until he started shoving cookie into my bunny mouth. Grammy was over by me when he did this so she came over and told him: “The bunny had a really big lunch today. She’s not very hungry. She had too much sugar for lunch!” Needless to say, I’m pretty sure there is still cookie residue on that costume.
4. It was really windy outside, so every time the wind would blow, it would whip my head in different directions. My neck is still a little sore. But, without the wind, I’m sure AJ and I would have suffocated in our bunny-shaped saunas.
5. Since we had no peripheral vision, sometimes I would be sitting there and children would be talking to me, but I had no idea where they were without making a 360 degree turn. I have more respect for horses and fish now.
6. The bunny heads smelled weird. They smelled like Halloween. I’m not sure why Halloween has such a weird smell and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, come to our house and smell the Halloween box. I think the random assortment of masks and face paint combines to create a somewhat formaldehyde-like aroma. When I was little, we had these Laurel and Hardy masks in our basement that smelled EXACTLY like the bunny head. It was surreal. For a minute, I thought I was back in our old basement wearing masks and killing spiders with pool sticks. (We used to live in Colorado so we had a lot of spiders in our basement. My best friend and I used to dress up as exterminators and smash spiders against the walls with pool sticks. Mom used to get mad at me for leaving spider guts all over the basement walls, but in my opinion, she should have been happy those spiders weren’t crawling into her mouth as she slept. You know, people unknowingly eat an average of five spiders a year. Truth.)
7. There was a professional photographer so we got to take some pretty amazing pictures together. My favorite is the one with Grammy, Mom, AJ and I because Grammy is sitting on AJ bunny’s lap. AJ and I also took some pictures where he took his bunny head off and sat on my lap and then I took my bunny head off and sat on his lap. They’re incredible and not weird/creepy at all.
In conclusion, if you ever get a chance to dress up like a beloved holiday icon, I highly recommend you take it.