Monday, March 28, 2005

Go Hug a Hardboiled Egg

On Saturday morning I took a spin around Yorktown Heights looking for Easter presents for my family. I had originally intended to buy them actual presents, but lack of insight into male taste (three out of four members of my immediate family are men, which for me renders holiday shopping on par with tooth extraction) barred me from finding suitable gifts for most of the targets of my holiday cheer.

Instead, I decided to buy my brothers the most inappropriate chocolates available. The chocolate shop in the mall offered little in the nudie genre, but I did manage to buy Chris a package of Godiva smokes, and Mike an assortment of "Schnapps Shots." Five schnapps-filled chocolates roughly equal an actual shot of liquor.

It seemed like such a fun idea until I realized I could easily visualize their fate: some Sunday night in the not-so-distant future, the liquor stores closed, a room full of beerless underclassmen will ravenously bite off the top of each truffle, suck out the schnapps with all the intensity of a famished anteater, and throw the remaing dark chocolate exoskeleton out the window.

My brothers' classy, gourmet palates taken care of, I went on looking for a gift for my parents. I decided to hit up the Italian bakery in town to buy them something special for Easter breakfast after three laps around the mall yielded nothing.

I walked into the bakery to find an ancient old woman and her geriatric son standing awkwardly in the middle of the tiny walkway to the counter. The woman was muttering something about how "terrible, just terrible" she felt, though her son was clearly exasperated with her and trying to move her out the door.

"MA! They'll have the Easter bread tomorrow!"

"It's terrible, just terrible."

"Maaah, they're just out for TODAY. They'll make more TOMORROW."

"It's terrible how you can't get the Easter bread anymore. Terrible. This is a terrible bakery."

"THEY'RE NOT A TERRIBLE BAKERY, MA. Can we go now? Ma! Come on, Ma!"

The bakery lady kind of chuckled and tried to talk her into some croissants or a black-and-white cookie instead, but the old lady couldn't be placated. At last her son succeeded in coaxing her (and her walker) out the door. I bought a coffee cake and likewise exited, only to find the woman and her son had progressed about six feet past the door. The old woman looked on the verge of tears, still muttering about how "terrible" it is that an old Italian lady can't get her Easter bread anymore.

I originally intended to file away the dynamic duo for later recount and and poking-of-fun-at in this very forum. In the car on the way home, though, I finally figured out what the hell the old lady was talking about.

My grandma on my dad's side, the Italian side of my family, used to get each of us Cacace kids an Italian Easter bread every year. It's a bunny-shaped loaf of kinda sweet bread, complete with raisin eyes and nose and a hard-boiled egg hugged to its middle by two golden-brown arms (paws? legs? any baker/anatomists out there?). I didn't even really like the bread all that much. With regiments of Peeps waiting in their cardboard barracks for immediate dispatchment to my stomach, a loaf of bread ranked kind of low on the list of festive Easter foods to consume. But three days after Easter, when all the Peeps were gone and combing the plastic grass in my easter basket yielded not even so much as a Hershey's Kiss, it was the last chunk of Easter to consume, ears first.

I'm twenty-two, but already most of my family's holiday traditions have kind of fizzled out due to a decreasing number of participants. I started off with one great-grandma and three grandparents, and most of my childhood holiday memories revolved around having to get properly scrubbed, dressed, and coiffed to go to their houses, ostensibly to eat and celebrate Jesus's doing something notable. Really, for me it was mostly about receiving candy and money when my parents weren't looking.

But by the time I graduated high school I only had one grandma left, and she passed away my freshman year of college. Without a place to go or anybody left to celebrate with, holidays have gotten a little--well, I don't want to say sad, so maybe half-hearted is more the word for it. I don't go to church anymore, and neither does my mother (for political and moral reasons, respectively) so neither do my brothers and dad (for not-wanting-to-sing-in-public reasons). So there's no reason to buy Easter outfits anymore, and no occasion to break out the camera.

We've managed to replace church-going with food-eating, however. Our meals have gotten increasingly larger for a decreasingly populous table. Our turkey and ham left-overs feed us for a week. If nothing else, I feel as though my family proves that it's not cleanliness next to godliness, it's gluttony.

So, anyway, as much as I wanted to call her a nutty old bat and drive away laughing, I kind of feel for the old lady in the bakery parking lot. If we don't have any grandparents, me and her, and we don't have any aunts and uncles, or cousins, or anything, could we at least get some damn Easter bread, even if it'll probably give her agita, and I pick off the eyes and nose because I'd rather die than eat a rasin? All we want is a friggin' loaf of bread, you croissant-y bitch, it's Easter.


Anonymous brad said...

which one was the one who had firemen under her bed?

2:44 PM  
Blogger What'sHerFace said...

That was my mom's mom, the Polish grandma.

And it wasn't under her bed, it was in her bed. She was also totally out of her gourd by that point, and accused Chris of popping out of her underwear drawer.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Andrea said...

I'm a baker AND an anatomist and those are what we call the forelimbs. They come from having too much dough and not enough "this is a bunny" signals. Can we talk more about how to get a fireman into my bed?

3:20 PM  
Blogger What'sHerFace said...

Well, my dad was a fireman, so all you have to do is ask...

But in terms of the fireman my grandmother thought was in her bed:

My grandma had a stroke and went crazy and was living in my house. She pretty frequently woke us up in the middle of the night with crazy stuff, but this particular time she woke my dad up insisting that there was "a Jewish fireman" in her bed.

My dad quickly dispatched the Jewish fireman in her bed by turning off the little radio she had left under her pillow, which was tuned to a talk radio station discussing ethnic diversity in the NYFD.

3:27 PM  

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