Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Easter Bunny and Other Grave Matters

When I was a kid, my parents sent me to a dentist who used ether to knock his patients out. That was the anesthetic of choice in the 1960s, before nitrous oxide replaced it. Dr. P. would have the gas hose attached to a little stuffed toy rabbit that he called the “Ether Bunny.” Ether was flammable, which is one reason it is no longer used. Dr. P., I remember vividly, used to smoke a pipe while he worked on my teeth. Imagine that. (Not all of what I just wrote is factual; you have to sort it out. Alright, here’s a hint – it’s all true except for one thing!)

So let’s talk a bit more about Easter, that grand holiday in which we Catholics celebrate Christ rising from the dead (if you expect me to say he saw his shadow as he left the tomb and thereby forecasted six more weeks of winter, you’d be sorely mistaken). Secretly, I think we all want to rise from the dead. Catholics believe that how we spend our eternal life is determined on Judgment Day. This is when we all discover our fate, whether it be Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory. Oh wait, they got rid of Purgatory. Or maybe it never existed, like an annulment, the Catholic version of divorce.

But that all takes me back to the sixties, when the Ether Bunny ran rampant in Dr. P.’s office, and his red lava lamp blooged in the waiting room. I remember thinking how weird it was that he chose red, as it looked like blood.

"Oh my god, what have I gotten myself into?
I'm a human corkscrew and all my wine is blood
They're gonna kill me mama, they don't like me bud.
–    From John Prine’s song, “Jesus, the Missing Years

"Maybe there are some Easter eggs down here!!!"
Watch Prine’s video here, its really not sacrilegious. He put’s Christ’s life and death in better perspective than most religious teachers with their holy mysteries. Personally, I believe I’ll be spending eternity in the warmer of the two climates. Heaven for atmosphere, hell for company – isn’t that what Mark Twain said? Doing eternity with my peeps doesn’t sound so bad – better than floating around with a harp trying to keep a halo on your head. And speaking of peeps, the day after Easter is the traditional marshmallow peep-eating contest at the Dawson Street Pub, in Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood. So do stop by Monday evening if you want to see yellow.

To sum up my Easter holiday, I’ll just mention that we had a pleasant dinner at the slots parlor buffet in Wilkes-Barre, PA, with my Mom. She loves it there, so it’s become somewhat of a tradition with us. I was driving there with my three-year-old daughter, Olivia, when she asked when we would get to Grandma’s house. I told her we were meeting her at the casino. She asked, “What’s a casino?” Tough to explain to a youngster, but I began with, “Well, it’s a place where people gamble … ” She cut me off asking, “What does gamble mean?” Clutching for something she would understand, I attempted, “When people wager their money …” Cut off again with, “Daddy, what’s wager?” Hmmm. “That’s when people try to win …“ Olivia jumps in with, “Like when you try to win a game?” I said, “Exactly. They try to win a game.” It’s all a game, really, isn’t it? If we could just treat life as such a simple thing, it might be more fun.