This morning’s topic of discussion concerned unwelcome children’s gifts from childless donors. Unsurprisingly, it’s a subject with which I’m intimately familiar, as “Bugs Bunny” certainly would attest!
At breakfast, Jimmy was complaining about the paint set his two-year-old daughter received from his younger, single brother yesterday. “As if the crayon marks on the wall aren’t enough!” he moaned. “Why is it those without children seem clueless when it comes to buying presents for somebody else’s kids?”
My wife chimed in at that point: “If you really want to know, ask Richard about Bugs Bunny.”
The tale of my infamously-unappreciated children’s gift began some ten years ago, when Sophia and I scheduled our first trip to New Jersey since moving to Georgia. We’d planned to arrive Easter weekend, so she could enjoy the festivities with her godson, who was about five then. Nunzio’s parents (my wife’s brother and sister-in-law) had told him Aunt Sophia would visit for Easter, and he couldn’t wait to see her.
Alas, work pressures caused Sophia to reschedule our trip. She felt terrible about disappointing her godson, but hoped to atone by sending him a special Easter gift. Yet her pressing employment duties left little time to procure the ideal present. Wishing to ease her load – and conscience – I volunteered to handle matters.
After a thorough investigation, I arranged what I thought the perfect Easter present: a live bunny rabbit, whom I christened “Bugs Bunny.” As I figured, what kid wouldn’t want a rabbit, especially on Easter? The pet store made a special delivery Easter morning.
When I informed Sophia of the purchase, she expressed reservations: “I don’t think Vincenzo and Florenzia will enjoy having a rabbit in their house. We didn’t have pets growing up, and neither did Florenzia. The two of them aren’t what you’d call ‘pet people.’”
No, they weren’t! When our rescheduled flight brought us to her brother’s house the following weekend, Bugs Bunny was nowhere to be seen. With her son standing beside her, Florenzia reiterated the same explanation she’d provided to the tyke a few days earlier: “As much as we all appreciated your thoughtfulness, we knew Bugs Bunny wouldn’t be happy living here; so Vincenzo gave him to a friend of his who owns a farm, and Bugs is very, very happy there.”
I’d like to say the news of Bugs Bunny’s abrupt relocation proved the most shocking jolt of the evening. Except, that honor fell to a certain dinnertime revelation. Having thoroughly enjoyed Florenzia’s home-cooked meal, I told her she’d outdone herself, adding: “What do you call this dish?”
She answered: “Coniglio in Porchetta Col Finocchio.”
Curious, I asked for the English translation. Florenzia stared me dead in the eye and replied: “rabbit with fennel, pancetta and prosciutto.”
In Nunzio’s presence, I didn’t dare speak my mind. But gazing down at the few remaining morsels on my plate, I mouthed a silent prayer: May you rest in peace, Bugs Bunny!