In which the Elegant Bastard and the Easter Bunny celebrate their Common Chocolate Cause.
I want my Bunny.
Had you asked me a week ago, I don’t think I would have cared. All I likely wanted then was a good Pinot Noir (got it), the Canadiens to beat the Bruins (got it) and a world free of both CNN and North Korea (working on it.) But my circumstances have changed since then, and now I very deeply want my Bunny.
It began – as most things do – in Starbucks. I was sipping my Americano and waiting for a friend. A table away sat three young women who paused their conversation to watch as a older couple walked by carrying an assortment of Easter candy. Prominent among their packages were chocolate rabbits carrying baskets of white chocolate eggs. As soon as the couple were out of earshot, the sneering started.
“God, it’s – like – so stupid.. Like, rabbits don’t lay eggs.”
“I know. And I hate having this freaking religious shit forced down my throat. Like, it’s everywhere I go.”
“So commercial. And so superstitious.”
All of this was punctuated by collective head nodding, eye rolling and tooth sucking to indicate agreement with each other’s wise words.
At that point, one reminded the others they were late for an appointment to have their hands henna tattooed. Making a few loud comments about how these decorations would ensure their soon-to-be-married girlfriend would become pregnant on her wedding night, they gathered their purchases together and walked away. I was looking around for anything I could throw at them but at that point my friend arrived and the moment passed. In fact it was only several hour later that I felt the first stirrings of this absurd need to obtain a Bunny.
My readers will instantly understand that there is no need to contact animal protection services. I was a man in search of a symbolic Bunny and yes, it would have to be chocolate. The reasons for this preference are obvious. Real Bunnies poop and want to do things with other Bunnies. I have no time to clean up the first and no desire to observe the second. As well, any real Bunny hanging around my house inevitably becomes dinner. Friends can become a tad upset when they are served what I call lapin aux fines herbes and what they refer to as Curried Thumper. Finally, I recognized that I wanted a tangible symbol, something I could touch, and my favorite touching tool has always been my mouth.
The problem was I wasn’t really sure what my Bunny was going to symbolize. For example, was it going to be an Anger Bunny? The three women had displayed an irritating degree of cultural ignorance and insensitivity, but Toronto often struggles to maintain it’s loudly declared allegiance to multiculturalism. Tensions do exist. In fact, I sometimes wonder if it’s a combination of fear and political correctness rather than commitment that keeps things calm on our polite surfaces. However, I had heard far worse comments directed at far more targets and I had not really been affected. I tend to chalk such outbursts up to the mutterer’s sense of personal and political impotence and get on with my search for the perfect rib steak. Anger Bunny it was not
Had their words had awakened some remnant of Christianity lingering deep within my slumbering soul. Was I offended on behalf of some distant past? Like many North American kids, I had been trundled off to church and Sunday school by my dutiful parents. I had learned my catechism, joined the choir and refrained from beating up my friends during the actual services. Then, one Sunday during my thirteenth year, I had loudly declared my atheism at dinner. My mother responded by reminding me that if I wanted dessert, I needed to eat my liver. This muted reaction, and the fact that the following Easter I got my chocolate Bunny anyway is a pretty clear indication that our house was not precisely a hotbed of religious fervor. So I don’t think what I was hearing all these many years later was some God Bunny calling me back to the fold.
Maybe I was hungry for an Intellectual Bunny! I have a passion for symbols and some are more elegant than others. This is decidedly true of two most commonly associated with Easter – the egg and the Bunny. Eggs coloured red are meant to represent the blood of the risen Christ, but there are non-religious egg interpretations as well. A green egg can mean the return of spring. A white egg can represent purity and innocence, a brown egg the earth, a blue egg hope and any egg immortality.
The Bunny, or the Hare, was thought by some ancient writers to be a hermaphrodite. This possibility of a virgin birth made the hare a perfect symbol for Mary, the mother of Christ. Many churches have circular carvings showing three rabbit heads with overlapping ears, a charming geometric representation of the trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Still, I am able to appreciate many other symbols without feeling an urge to eat chocolate. More, I realized at some deeply profound level that a chocolate egg would not answer my need. It had to be a Bunny.
One possibility I quickly eliminated was any sort of Pagan Bunny. I had once done a little research about Easter and I had very quickly came across Eastre, the old Saxon goddess of the dawn, spring and fertility for whom Easter is named. Eastre was wife of the Sun God. A full moon occurring after the spring equinox represented a pregnant Eastre about to give birth to new life. This idea encouraged noisy and apparently quite randy festivals all over the German speaking world. However, the idea of a pregnant goddess flying around overhead only encourages me to stay indoors or to invest in a really good umbrella.
I almost decided to call the object of me search Mellow Bunny. That worked in many ways. If nothing else, it affirmed my fondness for Easter, something that persists even though I have left religion behind me. Easter was always so much more relaxed that Christmas. I didn’t have to worry about sending Easter cards or getting my army of relatives Easter gifts. I didn’t need to learn Easter carols. There was no elaborate pop-up calendar countdown, no incessant demands that I be a good boy if I wanted to avoid coal in my stocking, no long vacation that had to be used “productively”. I couldn’t really screw up Easter.
But eventually the epiphany hit. It’s spring. Spring is silliness. It’s the giddily giggily season. The days grow a little longer, the clothing burden becomes less wearisome, birdsong hasn’t yet become annoying and here and there small green shoots push themselves up into the sunshine. The sun yawns; the sky stretches; the trees stand up a little taller. It isn’t the full orgiastic explosion that comes later; it’s subtle and gentle and teasing. The air remains nippy, snow can still fall, and mud is in ambush mode but a promise has been made and so we all walk about grinning big grins, offering each other high fives and feeling like we could hop and leap and jump over any and every obstacle in our way. That’s why it had to be a Bunny.
In a few moments I will go out to get my Spring Bunny. If I meet the three young women who started all this, I will smile. I may even offer to buy them bunnies. In fact, if I find Bunnies on sale I may purchase large numbers of them and give them to strangers in the street or even to you, Dear Reader.
However, first I must finish this. I could, I suppose, just ask if you realize that all I am saying is there are times when what’s important is understanding that we live and we love in a world turning green. However, I could end more elegantly just by offering up three brief words of advice.
Have a Bunny!