Sunday, April 8, 2012


“It just goes to show you, it’s always something.” –Roseanne Rosannadanna

April, 2000. It was a week after Easter and our kids were still enjoying the Easter baskets of their dreams. They overflowed with crap galore. It was like Christmas only on a slightly smaller scale.
When I was a kid, we woke up to baskets my dad had brought home from Woolworth’s, the kind with the most appalling chocolate and “toys” contained inside the shrink wrap. We liked appalling chocolate in those days. We didn’t have anything to compare it to. One Easter, my sisters and I went downstairs and couldn’t find our baskets anywhere. When we ran upstairs crying to our sleeping parents, my mother sprang to life from a dead sleep, shot darts with her eyes into my father, and then suggested the Easter Bunny hid them, like he hides Easter eggs. “Go and look in the basement. Wouldn’t that be such a silly thing for the Eastern Bunny to do?” Yeah, real funny. Our basement was dark and scary. The Boogey-Man had himself a cozy little corner down there. So the four of us traipsed down the rickety stairs into the gloom, or should I say, the depths of Hell, and sure enough, there they were: four pink wicker-like baskets sitting there in front of the old refrigerator on the damp cement floor. That Easter Bunny. What a jokester. I got a half-naked plastic fake Barbie and a gun that allowed me to pop off a yellow spinny thing “inadvertently” at my sisters’ heads. The 3-page coloring book with crummy plastic crayons that stuck to the page was a head-scratcher, but who cares? We had a giant Palmer hollow chocolate bunny and jelly beans and foil-covered chocolate eggs to eat!

No Woolworth baskets for my kids. I’ve spoiled them with fancy Easter baskets filled with the most delectable chocolate known to man. The other basket items include everything from the very practical (socks and pens) to the impractical but essential nonetheless (Magic 8 Ball, a Vote Republican lapel button, something called Flarp, or as it is more widely known, Fart-in-a-Cup).
But I digress.

April, 2000. It was early morning, and I was expecting twelve little girls that day at our house for Olivia’s sixth birthday party. Then disaster struck. I called my good friend Kerry. “We have to take Cliff to the doctor. There’s something really wrong with him!”

I asked her if she would come over and give Olivia’s birthday party for me. I was asking a favor that was ridiculously overstepping boundaries, but I was out of my mind at the time. I couldn’t cancel my little girl’s party! I had spent hours the night before filling pink cardboard purses with glitter nail polish and five thousand other kinds of shoddy merchandise. And that morning, 15-year-old Cliff had woken up, vomiting and miserable. I’m about to write something disgusting here, so if you’re eating, click out of this right now.
The reason I was certain Cliff was dying was that his vomit looked like pieces of a liver or a kidney or a lung. He was literally coughing up a lung!

Once Kerry got to my house, Ken and I rushed Cliff to Dr. Luloff’s office, along with a bag filled with Cliff’s lung/kidney/liver parts. First Dr. Luloff had to calm us down. He took one look at Cliff and said, “You know, he looks not so bad for someone who expectorated a critical body part.” He examined Cliff and found him to be slightly pale, and a little tired, but not feverish or about to expire.
Examining the baggie full of I-didn’t-know-what, he asked, “Could he have eaten some raw chicken from the fridge?” Raw chicken?  There were cupcakes, M & M’s, cookies and pizza for the party! Why would Cliff have chosen raw chicken?

He calmly threw out the baggie and told us to go home and figure out what Cliff had eaten because in his practiced opinion, all his innards were intact.
When we arrived home, we looked all over his room but saw nothing suspicious. The next stop was Max’s room and suddenly, with great clarity, we realized what Cliff must have eaten. Sitting innocently on Max’s side table with the cover off was the culprit: Flarp.

What is Flarp you ask? Just the most fun toy a kid could find in an Easter basket. It’s a plastic cup of tan-colored stuff similar to Silly Putty. But here’s the great part: you stick your finger down into it, creating a disgusting wet fart-like noise. It’s hilarious. Just not edible. “Do not eat!” “Not for human consumption!” “Will cause mild irritation of the stomach lining!”
In the end, the birthday party was a success, but the basket full of the most delectable chocolates known to man, the gourmet jelly beans and the organic salted caramels, were all still sitting uneaten in the Easter basket. If only I could have said that about the Flarp.
That Easter Bunny. What a jokester.