By James R. Van Liere | PREVIEW Columnist
Whenever Easter rolls around, I always remember an incident that happened when I was just a kid living in California.
The church we attended decided one spring to have an Easter program and get-together for all its new members. It was the usual potluck dinner in the basement, and then upstairs in the sanctuary, a magic show (by one of the church members who was an amateur magician) followed by cartoons for the kids. Of course, the adults were seated behind the kids, who were seated in the two front rows.
I was lucky enough to snag a seat in the front row almost opposite the magician. The magician’s act started out innocently enough with a few simple tricks, and then he moved on to an egg trick. Right in front of me was a large bowl of fake eggs and during the course of doing a trick, the magician reached in to this bowl of fake eggs and started tossing them out in the audience. Of course, the audience started tossing them back, hitting some of the kids in the first two rows, who in turn, tossed them back at the audience.
Well, because I was right in front, and because that bowl of fake eggs was so accessible, I reached in and grabbed an egg. Having a reasonably good throwing arm, I tossed that egg right out in to the middle of the audience. Of course, Mom and Dad were watching to see where my egg landed. What I did not realize was that a real egg was hidden in that bowl, and that was the one that I had picked out. Dad said that the egg hit a woman right smack in the forehead who was sitting two rows in front them. The egg then splattered sideways onto the two people sitting on both sides of her. I probably could not have made a better throw if I tried.
Pandemonium cannot even come close to describing what happened next. All I can remember is the grouchiest usher in the church was running down the aisle toward me yelling at the top of his lungs,“Grab that kid! Grab that kid!” Someone else was yelling, “Start the movie! start the movie!” My only thought was to get the heck out of there. Suddenly the lights went out, so I ducked down under the seats and started crawling to the aisle away from the grouchy usher.
Because we had played in and around the church so often, I knew that once I came to the aisle, I could crawl down it to the back of the church, through the janitor’s office and out the back door of the church. As it turned out, it was a good plan because I made good my escape through the back door, and right into the arms of Dad. Somehow, he had anticipated what my escape route was going to be. There was no doubt now; the world as I knew it was going to end.
After I told him what had really happened and how I just grabbed the real egg by mistake, much to my surprise, Dad was pretty understanding, and was actually laughing about my latest escapade. As he said, who would have guessed there was a real egg in that bowl of fake eggs?
In the end, he walked me home and told me to stay in the house and then he went back to the church and apologized to the woman who was hit and offered to pay to have her clothes cleaned. I guess she also was pretty understanding, because the whole incident seemed to have been dropped, until the church’s Fourth of July picnic.
At the picnic that summer, Mom and Dad met a nice couple from Illinois who had joined the church just prior to Easter. While sitting at a picnic table with this couple, the egg-throwing incident came up, and the woman that Mom and Dad had just met said if that was her kid she would have “paddled the living daylights out of him.” Of course, Mom, Dad and I just looked at each other, and then Mom said, “You sure are welcome to try, he’s sitting right next to you.” Well, after Dad explained what really happened, everyone had a good laugh and the whole subject was dropped.