I was young. When I say that, I’m usually rounding to the space between 7 and 9 years old, the time when you develop layers of your personality that go so deep, a doctor would have to scrape for hours to get them out. Imagine these particular layers: I was in a private Catholic school, and my favorite television show was Matlock.
Matlock, if you don’t know or need a refresher, is a show starring Andy Griffith as a grumpy septuagenarian defense lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia. He helps the little guys, the wrongly accused who can’t scrape together the cash for representation. He loves hot dogs, but he knows better. His suit color of choice is a grey so light, you’d get away with calling it white.
Falling in love is so easy as a kid.
I knew I was going to do something different with the eggs that Easter. Though the thrill of a tie-dyed egg cannot be undersold, I was more interested in the clear crayons that would make your own words appear on the eggs when you dipped them into color. (Another layer that grew back then: Beyond reading, I loved looking at writing. I will, to this day, get lost in a cereal box or a sign with directions.) When the idea came to me, it felt Edison-like in its scope. It was my favorite show, after all. There were two sets, one with the fictional names of the Matlock characters, and another with the actors who played them. For some reason, I wanted to celebrate the pretend and the real.
The eggs looked like hell. Have you ever written character names from a legal drama onto small, round, uneven objects? It’s hard; things get sloppy. But nothing up to that point had ever been more mine.
Whatever I thought about Easter then is long gone. I ate ham and believed in Jesus, I suppose. That has slipped into what I’d consider a comfortable agnosticism. I don’t put all my Matlock eggs in one basket, and I’m not certain there’s a basket at all. Maybe Benjamin Matlock prays the rosary, but Andy Griffith is just dust.
Anyway, this is a real story about the pretend, and perhaps a reminder that Easter is as good day as any to remember that stranger things have happened.