Quinn and I went to visit my parents in beautiful south Florida for ten days. OMG, Seattle friends! This vitamin D thing is no joke. It’s amazing! Why haven’t we tried it before? Anyway, my parents couldn’t resist taking Quinn to the mall to meet the Easter Bunny. Fine by me, as his post happened to be outside of Bloomingdale’s.
Serendipitously we arrived when there was a lull in traffic. There was no line, people. Either every child in South Florida had already gotten their Easter Bunny photo or Bloomingdale’s was having a really good sale. We were going in.
“There he is!” I shouted in the screechy, high-pitched, overly enthusiastic voice I use when trying to convince Quinn something is FUN! (There’s the needle! Yay! Watch as it pierces your skin!) “It’s the Easter bunny, buddy!”
Quinn’s eyes followed my finger and I braced myself for the tears. He is in the age-window where forcing him to sit on the costumed lap of a stranger in exchange for candy, gifts and a new Facebook profile pic for mommy is a tear trigger. But nope. Not a sound. He just stared at the fuzzy, formally-attired, pantless bunny man perched on a bench enjoying his faux garden and the trunk full of bunny shaped balls next to him. Balls! Yes! Next to Elmo, balls were Quinn’s favorite thing. If it’s round, it’s a ball and if it’s a ball it’s pretty much grease on his little baby palm. We so got this.
“Can you wave to the nice bunny?” I screeched.
Quinn lifted his right hand. “Hi, Elmo.”
“No, not Elmo. That’s the Easter Bunny. And see? He has a balls!” Wait. What?
I waited for the bunny to wave back and blow Quinn’s little mind. A bunny waving! I mean, how cool is that? But the waving was one-sided as the bunny remained immobile, hunched over, elbows on knees, knees spread apart. (My music teacher in sixth grade told us to never sit like this because it made us look like we were taking a poo. Did it? I haven’t seen that many people in the moment.) I don’t know. It was a weird position for the Easter bunny. And if my music teacher was right, it was even weirder as I’m pretty sure there are labor laws that guarantee bio breaks, right?
The sight lines in those mascot heads were terrible. It was likely the bunny just couldn’t see us. So we proceed down the path, feeling a bit like Dorothy and Co. seconds before the flying monkeys descended and ripped the guts out of the scarecrow. Quinn was remarkably still holding it together. I was starting to get a little creeped out.
“Hi Bunny!” I shouted in that voice. (Ugh!) “Look, Quinn. Say hi to the bunny!”
Quinn stopped about ten feet from the bunny and looked up at me. “Elmo?”
“No, not Elmo. Better than Elmo. It’s the Easter Bunny! Let’s go say hi!”
We were right in front of the bunny but still no response. Just dead eyes and buck teeth. Not a wave. Not a gentle pat on the bench seat next to him. Not a thumbs up. WTF, Bunny? Was bunny depressed? Was bunny shy? Was bunny real? Maybe mall mascots were victims of the recession and no longer required living bodies to inhabit them. What did I know? I haven’t seen an Easter Bunny in thirty-five years. (Okay, maybe 8 years but that was a gag gift for my mom. Which she loved, by the way.) OMG, was bunny dead? Would CPS come get me if I forced my kid to sit next to a dead bunny for a photo opp?
In any case, my mom was waving her credit card around and my dad already had about 72 minutes of video footage leading up to this moment so depressed, shy, potentially-deceased bunny aside, there was going to be some lap-sitting and commemorative photo taking.
“Hi, bunny!” I shouted. “Can we join you?”
I looked to the photographer for some guidance here. “Should we sit down? Is that okay?”
“Uh, yeah,” she said, pointing at her camera. “If you want a picture I say go for it.”
I admit, Quinn may watch the Real Housewives sometimes (often) and I might be lax about how well the binky gets cleaned off before getting inserted back in his mouth, but even I wasn’t going to let my child fend for himself next to a grumpy, potentially deceased costumed rabbit. I squeezed in and asked the bunny how he was doing. I’ll have to assume “not great” because he didn’t answer. I asked him if he was excited for Easter. This time I got a nod. Still no tears from Quinn, which made me wonder if this apathy was intentional. Maybe the directive is to not interact with the kids at all so as not to scare them. Maybe his goal was to be quiet and unassuming like the Velveteen Rabbit’s melancholic, emotionally disturbed cousin. Brilliant!
“High five?” Quinn asked the bunny.
The bunny took about four minutes to raise his left paw three inches allowing Quinn to smack it.
The photographer took a handful of photos, none of which involved Quinn in tears, and sent us on our way.
We met up with my mom at the cashier.
“Can you say tweaker?” she hissed. “That bunny was on something. I can’t believe they let him around children!”
First, my mom needs to lay off the Law and Order. Second, if the bunny were a meth-head, why wasn’t she worried that he was around me?
“I’m really sorry,” the cashier said. “He’s our worst bunny. He won’t interact with the kids at all. It’s his least favorite part of the job.”
“Least favorite part?” I asked. “As opposed to all of his other responsibilities as the Easter Bunny? What else does he have to do besides sit next to kids and get his pictures taken?”
She shrugged before swindling Judy out of $63 dollars for the premium package.
When we were leaving, the line to meet the dejected, disgruntled bunny snaked along the faux path towards the entrance to Bloomingdale’s. There had to be at least 40 soon-to-be-emotionally-scarred children waiting. Of course the bunny decided that would be a good time to take his legally-mandated break. As he made his way down the faux path and out of the garden, his big bunny feet tripped over a boulder causing him to topple into a field of artificial tulips.
I’m pretty sure that is his new least favorite part of his job.