Saturday, April 11, 2009

The truth about the Easter Bunny

Egg laying bunnies and chemical weapons – an unlikely combination.

It’s that time again. Kids approach me with shy but inquisitive faces, and they ask, How do Easter bunnies lay eggs?

That is a very good question. The finer details of the answer are shrouded in secrecy, but the gist of the story can be told here.

It all started in the early days of the Cold War, in 1949.

The scene was rural Alabama – home of the Redstone Arsenal. World War Two was over, and the Arsenal was deserted. Five years before, trucks had thundered past at all hours as thousands or determined men worked around the clock to deliver munitions to our troops in Europe and the Pacific.

Now, the men were gone. Everything was quiet. Behind a long metal shed, unmarked drums of chemicals lay, silently corroding under the hot Alabama sun. One day, a drum began to leak. Soon it was joined by another, and another. No one noticed. There were a few military police and caretakers on patrol, but the Arsenal is vast and their numbers were few.

A year went by. Deer bent their heads down to drink the sweet-tasting green water. Squirrels found the blue paste that spread like moss particularly tasty. The area remained quiet. It remained deserted, except for the wildlife. And the wildlife was changing. Some of the deer grew antlers that pointed in strange directions. A squirrel appeared with six legs. And a few of the frogs began eating small dogs.

The biggest change of all happened with the rabbits and the chickens. It started when the rabbits began eyeing the chickens with sick, deranged looks. Scuffles broke out at the edge of the woods. Strange cries rent the night air. Some evenings, the clamor was loud enough to stir the guards in their shack.

You think we got wolves out there? Clem was worried, but Sam and the other MPs reassured him. “No way,” they said. “There’s nothing there but rabbits and snakes and the occasional deer.” Little did they know.

The secret got out when a guard opened the door of a long-abandoned shed, and shined his light inside. A roomful of bunnies sat on nests, guarding eggs. Within a matter of days, they began hatching. They grew bigger, and hopped out into the world.

Meanwhile, the chickens were nowhere to be seen.

It didn’t take long for the mutant Bunnies to hop outside the confines of the Arsenal, and into nearby communities. Rural kids have always kept pet bunnies, so it was only a matter of time before some of the New Bunnies found their way into people’s homes. Luckily, they were friendly.

Kids accepted the egg-laying bunnies without much question. After all, they were kids. What did they know? But a few parents knew a gold mine when they saw one. And that’s how Alabama became – for a few years – the Bunny capital of the world. In a time of progress and change, those Bunnies were heralded as a genuine Hillbilly Marvel. Yes, they were.

Unfortunately, the reign of natural-born egg-laying Bunnies was short-lived. By 1952, industrialists had already begun producing plastic toys. A plastic executive’s son got a Bunny for Easter, and the die was cast yet again.

Toy companies began selling plastic Easter eggs alongside stuffed bunnies, and the market exploded. Millions of kids grew up with them. The Easter Egg hunt became a part of our culture. The result: today’s kids take egg-laying bunnies for granted. The real Bunnies – the freaks that started it all – are largely forgotten.

You can still buy Bunnies at roadside stands in rural Alabama, but few parents venture down there anymore. It’s a disposable economy now. Why buy a real Bunny that needs food, water and care when you can buy a stuffed one and a sack of eggs?

Easter Bunnies aren’t the only mutant rabbits to emerge from our country’s nuclear weapons and chemical warfare programs. Out west, there are Jackalopes. And up North, in some cities, Bunnies have gotten Big. Dressed in leather jackets and armed with billy clubs – they are a formidable force, robbing teenagers to raise money for their friends, the Tooth Fairies. I saw two of those Bunnies last night, in the alley behind Spoleto. They were passing a bottle of Thunderbird – a good cheap wine – and trilling at each other between burps. Luckily, they didn’t see me. I slipped away to tell this tale today.

13 comments:

winnie said...

I will never look at a bunny the same way again! And now we're off to hunt Easter Eggs....Thanks for the Holiday Bunny tail...'um I mean "tale" John!

Marlynn said...

that was very good, my friend from san fracisco sent it to me.i really never gave thought to bunny laying eggs. i just thought it was part of spring, what did i know. mlb

Niksmom said...

**FANTASTIC!!** Right up there with Garrison Keillor at his best. Maybe you have (another) new career ahead of you? ;-)

jess said...

LOVE this!!!

Eric said...

Car restorer, author, and tongue-in-cheek comedian. What else can you do? Seriously (well, not too seriously) a wonderful tale from a fellow New Englander.

krex said...

Proof that John, as an aspie, does not lie.....Bunny hatching from egg .

http://eyesoftime.blogspot.com/2009/03/easter-bunny-birth.html

Michelle O'Neil said...

Thank God you got out alive! We are expecting visits from the Easter bunny AND the tooth fairy tonight.

I hope they don't create a love child.

Tish Grier said...

so, that's what all the mess was behind Spoletos the other night...

remind me to tell you about the zombies under the rail trail bridge. I wonder if they know about the bunnies....

John Elder Robison said...

Tish, I know about the Zombies but this is a kid-friendly blog and I don't want to make them sick with fear and revulsion.

A crew from the DPW went in there last fall with flamethrowers and cleaned the nest out. The stench was awful around the bridge for weeks, till the snow came.

I wonder if they'll be back?

K Fuller said...

That was the best explanation yet!

I posted on my face book earlier that my son, affected by Autism, doesn't understand the Crucifixion or the Easter Bunny!
It is all about the candy here.
I am glad I finally know why it isn't the Easter Chicken!
Thanks

Gator said...

FINALLY. The truth is told.... You are a brave man for telling it...

:D

John said...

now that was fun. I will be hunting for a sequel next year.
-jruch

PLANET3RRY said...

What's the Word? THUNDERBIRD!
What's the Price? A Dollar Twice.
Who's it Fo'? The Po-Folks.

Just more evidence that Alabama is a genetic focal point for life on Earth.