I first met the Easter Bunny at age 4, when my mother dressed me up and took me to a department store to visit with him up close and personal. To be honest, I was a little intimidated. He was about 6 feet, 2 inches tall, a lot bigger than any rabbit I’d been exposed to, and he didn’t say anything. He just patted me on the head and gave me a little bag with a sugary-looking egg. It had a cellophane window that revealed some sort of rural scene inside; I guessed it might be Ireland.
Over the years, I got my share of jelly beans, chocolate rabbits and marshmallow eggs, and eventually I grew up and realized I could get the same stuff, plus that weird green fake grass, at most supermarkets. Alas, the poor Bunny had lost much of his luster.
Who would have thought that the big guy would eventually hop back into my life? Decades later, my wife was playing mah-jongg, so I decided to wet my whistle at my favorite Mount Pleasant watering spot. I bellied up to the bar, ordered a pint and checked out the sparse crowd. To my amazement, two stools away was a large man – sort of – in a trench coat, with big ears and what appeared to be very long whiskers.
Taking a shot in the dark, I asked, “Are you the Easter Bunny?”
“Who’s askin’?” he responded in a rabbit-like manner.
I told him I hadn’t seen him in decades but always appreciated his kindness in delivering goodies that kids – some of them, anyway – appreciate. This seemed to cheer him up, and he even admitted that he enjoyed playing an integral role in the planet’s spring festivities. We chatted about his job and I learned a lot – maybe more than I wanted to know.
“Santa Claus has this image of working on his own, delivering presents to kids around the world. Hah! Never going to happen. He’s built an organization just like ours – tens of thousands of associates who do the real work while he takes the credit,” the big guy told me. “I’m the current head Easter Bunny, although I’m probably not the one you met years ago. He might have been my father or my uncle. I’m just not that old.”
He told me he had thousands of descendants, most of them employees of his not-for-profit Easter Bunny Enterprises, Inc.
“It’s great having a family-owned and operated company dedicated to spreading joy among kids,” he said. “We’ve been a positive force for happiness, although I’ve had a few disappointments. For example, I’ve always resented Peter Cottontail. He had a song written about him and, frankly, he was a lousy worker. On the other hand, his sisters Mopsy and Flopsy have been terrific. Mopsy is our senior vice president and Flopsy is our CFO.”
Emboldened, I asked the Bunny what he did in the off-season.
“A great deal of my time is spent planning for the next season,” he answered. “For a few years, I supplemented my income by working for a big insurance company. For a while I thought I was in line to become their commercial spokesman. Then some little green guy with a funny accent got the gig.”
His attitude changed a little when I asked him how he happened to be in Mount Pleasant.
“I’m here most of the year. When I was scouting locations for some new candy warehouses, I found a great place in a nearby county,” he explained. “To be close to the action but in a fun community, I settled in Mount Pleasant. What’s not to like here? It’s terrific.”
“Where I live and where I hang out, no one hassles me,” he added. “They just think I’m a big guy with funny looking ears and whiskers.”
I thanked the Bunny for his time and offered to buy him a round, but he declined my generosity.
“Gotta go meet with the head of the Hare Family. They’ve been trying to muscle in on rabbit turf for years, and I either have to scare them off or make a deal,” he said. “Frankly, I’m inclined to give them a piece of the action. Easter Bunny Enterprises can always use some extra help.”
With that, he hopped out the door onto Coleman Boulevard. That’s the last I’ve seen of him. For now.