augury doggerel

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Giving Over

Saturday morning the woman made up a basket of food and green´┐Żbread and eggs and sausage, butter and boxwood, salt´┐Żand Saturday afternoon the priest splashed the contents. I wonder if even he believes it? I've never seen a priest who looked as if he was thinking he had just done anything more important than to run the cash register at a liquor store. "One Easter basket blessing. Anything else, Mac? That'll be 2.99. Next."

Last night the hare (not a rabbit in this country) was about and secreting things for a covetous child. The hare as it came to us in human form was not asleep long when the kid appeared in the hall, ready for plunder, and had to be sent back to bed. This was three-thirty in the morning, which, as she would tell you any other day, is at least four hours earlier than it is physically possible to get out of a warm bed. I am certain she knows there is no Santa Claus, and I am almost as certain she knows there is no Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy, but any myth suggesting that children, even fairly rotten ones, should be given presents on a certain day will not die if she can help it. We should have invented reverse myths while we had the chance. "You can't find your plastic dinosaurs with the sole-puncturing horns? Hmmm. Well, remember, yesterday was the first Saturday of the month. That's the night the Toy Troll snatches and ritually burns all pointy little toys that have been left on the floor. Sniff around. He may have peed in a corner of your room, too."

At breakfast I wanted to offer lessons in basic table etiquette to people older than I am, but I resisted this as itself being too rude for the table. I thought but could not say, for example, that no decent person speaks with a mouthful of food, and that this is not just a silly old custom. It helps to keep people from spitting into your food, for one thing, and it saves the rest of us from having to watch and listen to ham being reduced to gullet-ready wet lumps of pig-and-saliva mash. But other traditions and myths held my tongue. Instead, I inched my plate away and tried to shield it with a semi-polite hand resting near my cup.

But now I'm alone with Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" and two sleepy cats and fine weather. I could dance naked with a picture of the pope.


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