Tellin' Jokes And Crackin' Yolks.
'My Awesome Easter Vacation (1989).'
I am not a fan of Easter. I apologize.
I’m fully aware it’s a curmudgeonly opinion to have, but as a kid that grew up Catholic (casually to the verge of excommunication at times), Easter was a non-negotiable, mandatory exercise. You had to wear dress pants (not fun). You had to get up early on a Sunday (extremely not fun). You had to go to mass (unanimously as unfun as childhood gets). You had to stand outside for hours on end and get photos taken on the lawn (pure wanton punishment to this very day). These are sincerely, like, my five least-favorite things. If you ever say to me "hey, let’s put on khakis and stand in front of this tree real quick," it will be the last time we interact without legal counsel.
Even the best part of Easter- the candy- was sub-par. Jellybeans? That plastic grass that got everywhere? A hard-boiled egg? Are you shitting me?
Easter is also the holiday where parents incessantly warn you not to get your outfit dirty under any circumstances, but it’s also the only holiday that requires you to crawl around on your hands and knees in the yard. How am I supposed to stay fresh when you got me rooting for plastic eggs underneath a pine tree? Pick a lane, hypocrite!
Those more pious than I are probably grinding their teeth while I miss the entire point, which is why I apologized up front. I left Catholicism decades ago, but the twin fangs of Guilt and Shame left permanent venom: I’m sorry about things, but I can’t even remember for what anymore. I’m just generally sorry for the rest of my life about everything.
…even Easter colors suck. Yellow? Gross. What even is that?
Hey, I should be so lucky and I understand that now. Plenty of folks would have killed for just one Easter like the many I was fortunate enough to celebrate with my enormous, extended family. In 1989 alone, for example, I had an awesome Easter vacation. So awesome, in fact, that it inspired me to slap together another early classic from the vault.
So without further ado, I present 1989’s My Awesome Easter Vacation. Grab a handful of black jellybeans and salt up that egg, you weirdo.
Right off the bat, we’re making quality progress: I spelled almost every word on the cover correctly this time. For as often as I peppered my language with 'awesome,' it took awhile to wrap my head around that silent 'e.' And seashells are kind of like eggshells, and eggs are associated with Easter, so it all makes sense.
Look. I had a limited variety of wallpaper samples to choose from, which is what I used for the covers of all these early books, along with rubber cement and some honest-to-god needle-and-thread stitching for the spine. They were as much craftwork as they were literature.
They were inarguably more craftwork than literature.
Happy Easter, dudes. I was obsessed with that sort of Scrabble-esque method of connecting a string of words together, as my unique brand of OCD was just beginning to bind like a quality aged cheese. And while I got 'vacation' right on the proper cover, my good fortune did not follow me to the cover page. What was I going to do, flip back and double check? I’ve got deadlines.
Sorry, no detication. Suck it, Jesus.
It seems that my first day of Easter vacation in '89 was in no way, shape or form different from my Easter in 2021 by any discernible metric. I watched basketball, played Tetris and was eventually rustled from the couch by some sort of pressing commitment in either scenario. I’m also saying "work, work" in the illustration, which is the first of many lies I would somehow cram into a 4-page manuscript.
1989 was my first year with Nintendo, and it would greatly shape what I would write about and/or be interested in for the next…every…years. And while I do remember spending the weekend at my grandparents' house, I think this 'Nintendo tournament' I speak of is more of what I wished would have happened than what actually did happen.
It’s a whole thing, man. When you’re the shortest kid in class, when you’re the scrawniest kid in class, and when things are happening at home that aren’t exactly worth bragging about, you get defensive really fast. And when you’re a defensive 7-year-old boy, you just start making shit up about your world. I mean, we all know adults who still act this way, but you know what I’m talking about.
Unfriend those people for your own good, by the way. I know it’s tough, but just mute them at least.
The idea of being the first one awake or the first one to find an Easter basket is a 100% untrue, pointless flex, and it speaks to my insecurities in a way that makes me wish I could travel back in time and calm the poor kid down. "Hey man; nobody’s judging you about anything. Cool it."
No comments. That’s what you get for being cocky, I guess. My friends weren’t buying it.
I care very little about what people think of me nowadays. I know this to be true because I know what it feels like to care very much about what people think of me. To be sorry about things, but to not remember for what anymore. To just generally be sorry for the rest of your life about everything.
I let 7-year-old Ryan off the hook years ago; he was going through some shit and lied a few times when he felt vulnerable. A sociopath he was not. He was fundamentally good. He didn’t want to go to mass and stand on the lawn, but he didn’t want anyone to be mad at him, either. He merely wanted to sit in his room and write about what made him happy.
Still sounds awesome to me.