SLACKJAW by JIM KNIPFEL
April 15, 2018

The Problems With Easter

 

I should probably hold onto this one until next March simply to give it some artificial semblance of timeliness, but fuck it.

            It’s fair to say I hate Easter even more than I hate Christmas, and always have. That’s saying something, given how much I hate Christmas. The focus on that whole “resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and forgiveness of our sins” nonsense has a bit to do with it, but truth be told fairy tales held dear by dull-eyed muttonheads are the least of my Easter-related gripes. My real problems with Easter are mostly matters of personal taste and aesthetics.

            Even when I was a kid I hated Easter. I was never a big candy nut to begin with, so that whole angle was lost on me. Good thing too, considering Easter candy is the worst there is. Awful, awful candy. To this day, even almost five years after my dad passed away, Peeps remain a running joke in our family, with the repeated exchange of a single pack of yellow Peeps no one will ever eat. Those Peeps have been bouncing back and forth for about thirty years now. And Goddamn jellybeans? Christ, I loathe jellybeans. I hate the very idea of jelly beans. And for all the hoopla about chocolate bunnies of assorted configurations, Easter chocolate is the worst chocolate there is. It’s always waxy and flavorless, like trying to eat a hunk of brown plastic, or a votive candle. Any other time of year it’s fine, I have nothing against chocolate, but once you hit Easter the quality goes straight to hell. And don’t even get me started on the Cadbury creme eggs with the fake yolks. What bright boy at Cadbury thought this would be an appetizing idea?

            Then there’s the whole Easter Bunny business. Without getting into how the Christians co-opted the image from pagan fertility celebrations in order to distract gullible children while diluting and eventually burying the old rituals, let’s just say not only did I never believe, the Easter Bunny always kind of irked me. Well, the rabbit himself never irked me nearly so much as those people who for some reason insisted on conflating the Easter Bunny and Peter Cottontail. Two completely different things, people! Keep it straight! It also struck me as more than a little weird and creepy the Easter Bunny would go around handing out chocolate images of himself for children to eat. What, was that supposed to be some kind of pre-communion preparation? Is he supposed to be some kind of child-friendly Christ figure with long ears and a twitchy nose? “Take and eat—this is my body made of bad waxy chocolate and stale marshmallow…” Or is he just some kind of twisted cannibal fetishist? Either way, it just seems wrong.

            And while we’re on the subject of cheaply co-opted fertility symbols, I could never stomach hardboiled eggs to begin with, so why would I waste my goddamn time trying to find a fucking hardboiled egg some asshole hid under a fucking bush? Especially after they dyed the fucking thing blue or drew a little face on it with a crayon? Who would want to eat anything like that? Goddamn blue egg with a face? Yeah, chum, you jaunt off to the park and look for artificially colored chicken eggs in the dirt—I think I’ll stay here and watch re-runs of Gentle Ben and Gumby instead. Knock yourself out.

            Making things worse still, why is it that come Easter time everything turns pastel? The candy, the colored eggs, the greeting cards, the decorations, everything? Everything’s suddenly pastel purple and pink and yellow. Is this what your Christ would have wanted? Fucking pastels? Is that in the New Testament somewhere? “Thou shalt mark the Resurrection of Our Lord and savior with an array of pastel hues?” Are there any colors in the world faggier than pastels? I don’t think so.

            As for the churchy business, I always really dug Good Friday. Good Friday was just a horror movie to me. When I was a kid I was disturbingly obsessed with paintings of the crucifixion, the bloodier the better. It wasn’t evidence, as some wanted to believe, of a deep and abiding faith—I was just a really morbid kid. At the Lutheran church we attended, the Good Friday service was always my favorite of the year, in fact the only service I consciously looked forward to. They’d black out all the windows, do away with the godawful organ music, and the pastor would just talk about torture and the mechanics of crucifixion for two hours. For that one and only service every year, I was actually enthralled in church. Better still, they had this slide of a dim and ghostly desiccated corpse they’d project on the back wall of the altar, framed so it looked like it was hanging off the big wooden cross mounted above the sacristy. It was unbelievably creepy, and I loved it. But a couple of days later, here comes goddamn Easter and all that was gone, replaced with flowers and banners and all kinds of bright, happy crap, all of it pastel, of course. The windows were uncovered again, that hapless organist was banging away at the keys, the pastor was all smiles and good news, and my mind went back to wandering as per usual.

            To top it all off, I fucking hate spring time. Everything gets too bright and too warm, and I’m expected to go out and do things, “enjoy the weather,” right after the melted snow revealed a world of mud and worms and dog shit. As I remember it, Easter Sunday in particular was always painfully bright and a little too warm, and everything was pastel. “Here, the Easter Bunny left you a basket of maple creme eggs and jelly beans! Now go get dressed for church.” It all just made me want to puke.

            GAAH!

            I’m not even going to get into my whole theory about the connection between Christian resurrection mythology and the first two entries in George Romero’s Dead series. I have a long piece about that out there somewhere, a mighty good one too as I recall, but no one will run it. No one who pays, anyway. But that’s just an aside.

            In much later years my hatred of Easter was only accentuated by the fact my first wife’s grandfather shot himself in the head on Easter, her mother died of a massive heart attack on Easter, and my then-wife herself cut her wrists on Easter. Worse, she cut her wrists while listening to an EP recorded by Bob Mould’s post-Husker Du band, Sugar. The EP had been released on Easter Sunday a year earlier, and was entitled, of course, Beaster. And if all that isn’t a little too trite and overmuch, I don’t know what is.

            So in short, apart from cool crucifixion imagery, I have no goddamn time or patience whatsoever for anything even vaguely related to Easter.

            This is where things turn stupid, because despite all of the above, every time Easter rolls around, I find myself drawn inexorably toward Easter-related films and recordings. I can’t help myself. Around Christmas I find it terribly easy to steer happily away from all Christmas-related media (with the exception of that Tex Johnson album, Spike Jones’ version of The Nutcracker, and the 1980 horror film Christmas Evil). But as Easter draws near I suddenly feel a hankering to pop in The Last Temptation of Christ, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Jesus Christ Superstar, or Ben Hur. My god I NEVER want to see Ben Hur. Chariot race and that ship battle aside, it’s a bunch of bloated, self-important flapdoodle, except during those two or three days a year.

            For as long as I can recall, I’ve made an annual Easter weekend tradition of listening to Wagner’s penultimate opera, Parsifal, which is loosely based on the Arthurian legend of Parsifal and the Holy Grail, culminating on Good Friday. Most gorgeous opera ever written in spite of the silly-ass plot, and one that always leaves me a little misty. This most recent Easter, after wrapping the final act of Parsifal I allowed myself a little bonus by popping in that Beaster EP. So call me a nostalgic, sentimental fool.

            I don’t understand this impulse toward the Easterly at all, given the holiday makes me so damned nauseous. There may be something passive-aggressive about it, or maybe merely self-destructive. It likely betrays evidence some kind of inner conflict is at work, but y’know, I just don’t care to know about it.

 

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