The Easter Bunny has risen and other tales of a leavened Seder.

Easter was great. We were allowed to eat candy, my parents went to town with our baskets, there was no angst or disappointment or excessive drinking associated with this holiday; as absolutely lapsed Catholics we took no part in any of the tragic associations of cruxifixction and the weirdness of resurrection, our holiday was about bunnies and robins and daffodils and jellybeans and daddy announcing, "The Easter bunny has risen" over our leg of lamb dinner.

Lest you think my parents had successfully renounced their religious indoctrination completely note that the three of us were named after saints and we were all christened and when I asked my mom why, she said babies that weren't christened ended up in a corridor which I suppose became limbo and somehow none of those babies went to heaven. But we were told there was no heaven and no hell so it made no sense like my baptized name being Mary Ellen while everyone called me Molly. My mother merely said Mary Ellen was the "proper" name meaning a saint's name. I lay in my unheated attic bedroom with my hair frozen to the pillow and considered those babies in baskets left in those hallways and the impropriety of my name. I was in a dramatic spy phase and I wanted to be called Natasha or Isabella or Veronica but I also was very confused about god. I had  made the mistake of telling my sister Catherine I thought the lady who held the torch for Paramount Pictures was god. She thought this was great because I thought god was a woman. In second grade I thought George Washington was possibly god because his portrait stared down at us from the wall and I wasn't sure who he was.

Anyway, Easter was all about spring and running around barefoot and a jellybean hunt which I never won because I was the youngest. Catherine, my oldest sister, lacked the candy addiction and so after we consumed all of the chocolate and marshmallows by dinner, she would offer her stash, one piece at a time, for a price.

And then there was Seder. It seemed to me no one had religion in my fancy private school but in retrospect I understand it just didn't matter what with all the drugs we were trying to take, the drinking, the social blood letting. I never attended a Bar or Bat Mitzvah and wasn't entirely sure what Jews did aside from the incredibly funny and famous Jews my parents knew who also never went to Temple. Or maybe they did but temple in Princeton was sort of like Alcoholics Anonymous, plenty of people attended but no one talked about it. So, when I had my first serious boyfriend my freshman year at Rutgers I also had my first roommate in my first apartment and both my boyfriend and roommate were Jewish. My roommate's parents had yanked her out of Ithaca college because she was dating a goyim. My boyfriend's mother referred to me as the shiksa whore while my boyfriend called her a Nazi bitch and my roommate continued to date non-Jewish boys.  The thing was, I was completely ignorant, ignorant of all religions, left to figure it out on my own so I had basically ignored it all. Except I was taking a class on Milton and thought Satan was a sex god from Paradise Lost.

My boyfriend's mother had only met me once when she arrived at his apartment one morning and since the door was unlocked and his bedroom door was sort of open, she had appeared at the side of our bed holding a brisket and shrieking because we were naked. It was hot. We were naked. His little brother and father stood in the doorway staring while his mother yelled all sort of things in both Yiddish and English or maybe it was all English and her north Jersey accent made it hard to understand. In any case, I actually had to request privacy to put on my clothes and then, since she was still yelling, I fled. So, this was probably the origin of the "whore" label.

So when his mother invited me to Seder I was thrilled. My mom had made me this adorable dress, black velvet, slightly low cut with a sash that tied in the back. I looked like an adorable Alice-in-Wonderland with white tights and those little black Chinese shoes. My hair was thick and straight and fell to my waist. My boyfriend assured me my outfit was perfect even though his mother and aunt would be wearing polyester pant suits and my clothes would mark me as the shiksa whore she knew I was. Also, I decided to bake bread as a suitable dinner gift. Yes, leavened bread. I had never had a Matzoh or a bagel or heard of that story about the bread. So, I baked bread. When I told my boyfriend's room mate he started to say something but my boyfriend punched him and he shut up. We were driving to North Jersey and they were in the front seat while I sat in the back in my black velvet dress, holding my bread.

We dropped off his room mate who gave me a look full of pity and then we knocked on the door of his childhood home. His mom and his aunt answered the door with his little brother and father and some other people in the background. His mother's pants suit was aqua and his aunt's was pink. I handed the bread to his mother and she looked down and screamed. She threw the bread at my boyfriend and turned around and announced to the rest of the guests, "She gave me bread!" After that, nothing really worked.  Over dinner we were reading the part about the good Jew and the bad Jew and when ever the bad Jew was mentioned everyone looked at my boyfriend and his mother sobbed. I kept drinking the Manishevitz which was awful but it was alcohol. Over the brisket, his mother went into full scale hysterics and his Uncle Saul pulled us aside and said, "Take her to a diner," and he gave my boyfriend a twenty.

I sat in the diner in my black velvet dress and sobbed. My boyfriend called his mother a Nazi and we ate cheesecake. When my mom called me the next day and I told her about the bread she sort of inhaled and then said, "Oh honey." She put my father on the phone and he said, "Haven't you read the bible?" Well, of course I hadn't. I spent my childhood reading Dickens and D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf and Dostoevsky and none of those people told me about the bread thing. "No," I said. "Well," he said, "you should read it." But, I never did. However, I read all of Moby Dick, War and Peace, Middlemarch and Paradise Lost. I never wore that dress again.


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