Human explorers have been known to bring back some really useful things from strange lands.
Okay, well, not all of them. All Neil Armstrong brought back to earth in 1969 were some moon rocks that were not all that different from the rocks in your average Earth rockscape.
But what about Marco Polo?
He is said to have introduced pasta to Italy from the East.
And Sir Walter Raleigh?
He brought tobacco back to England from the Americas.
The Three Wise Men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Lucky little bugger. I bet he had never even heard of myrrh.
“So, what have you brought ME?” Borizz Pegtazc, the supreme commander of the planet Outer Zebrfon V, excitedly asked Cvrmnon Xcnbrety who had just returned from a year’s reconnaissance on Earth. Borizz Pegtazc was very excited about the possibilities Earth offered his planet. In fact, he was all ready to launch a strike force of a million 6’6″ warriors, rotten teeth and all, to take over Earth and enslave some more badly-needed dentists. He just needed the word from his forward scout. But first things first: what new, exciting gifts had his messenger brought home?
“You’re in luck, oh great leader,” replied Cvrmnon Xcnbrety. “I’ve brought you some Easter eggs.”
He handed to his leader a neatly packed box, containing one big Easter egg wrapped tightly in pink and blue tinsel paper, surrounded by eight smaller eggs wrapped similarly in different coloured tinsel paper.
“What are these?” asked Borizz Pegtazc, puzzled. “Precious stones?”
“No, I told you,” said Cvrmnon Xcnbrety. “They’re Easter eggs.”
“What is Easter?” asked Borizz Pegtazc, sniffing suspiciously at the gift.
“It’s a Christian celebration,” said Cvrmnon Xcnbrety who had adopted a a clever disguise and lived in Australia for 12 months, at great expense to his planet. The kids in his Earth neighbourhood did not know his first name. They just called him Mr Xcnbrety, and just assumed he was a former basketballer from the Czech Republic. “The Christians believe that their God came to Earth 2000 years ago and died for them 33 years later on what is now commemorated as Good Friday. Two days later, he rose from the dead. It’s a very bitter-sweet time for Christians.”
“So these er, um, Easter eggs are of religious significance?” asked Borizz Pegtazc.
“No, nothing to do with religion as far as I can see,” said Cvrmnon Xcnbrety. “They may even pre-date Christianity. I think the custom started in the northern hemisphere where Easter time is spring time, the traditional dawn for new life. ‘Easter’ is an English word but it is probably derived from the Norse word for the spring season, Eostur. The egg is a symbol of new life.”
Borizz Pegtaz sniffed at the eggs, then ran the fingers of his right hand over the textured surface of the largest one.
“So, humans make these Easter eggs?”
“No, the Easter Bunny does.”
“The Easter who?”
“The Easter Bunny. It’s his job to distribute the eggs.”
“It’s a HE – and he LAYS eggs?” How curious.”
“It’s worse than that, oh great leader,” Cvrmnon Xcnbrety said. “The Easter Bunny is a rabbit and, as far as I can determine, Earth rabbits don’t lay eggs.”
“A religious symbol perhaps?”
“Possibly. But I have to say: I have scoured the Christians’ religious history book, the one they call the Bible, and I couldn’t pull out any rabbits. Fishes yes, donkeys yes, but no bunnies.”
“Hmmm. Is there something inside of this egg?” asked Borizz Pegtazc, shaking it gently.
“Marshmallow, but only if you’re lucky,” said Cvrmnon Xcnbrety. “Usually, they’re empty.”
“Mmm,” said the leader again. “So what is the outside shell made of?”
“Chocolate,” said Cvrmnon Xcnbrety.
“Chocolate? What is chocolate?”
“It’s a confectionary made from cocoa, buttermilk, various emulsifiers, preservatives and …” He put his hand to his face as if scratching his nose. “… sugar.”
“SUGAR! Did you say SUGAR?” stormed Borizz Pegtazc, who had rotten teeth, but very good hearing on account of his huge ears. “Do you think I came down in the last meteorite shower! We don’t have sugar here any more. It is banned in this land. BANNED forever. Do you know how much it costs to administer a good dental plan for a million warriors with constant toothaches? I will NOT have sugar here, do you understand!”
“But-but-but,” stuttered Cvrmnon Xcnbrety. “I thought you’d like them. They’re all the rage on earth. They’ve been in the shops for months. That’s what I’ve been spending most of our money on lately.”
“But have you brought me anything useful from earth?” Borizz Pegtazc demanded. “Inside information? Recommended landing sites? News of disgruntled dentists who are looking for new slave masters … ?”
“Dentists aren’t slaves on Earth,” said Cvrmnon Xcnbrety. “You have to PAY them. LOTS AND LOTS OF MONEY.”
“Oh, I see,” muttered Borizz Pegtazc.
His rage gave way to an amusing thought. Perhaps the Earth dentists had a vested interest in the chocolate craze. Maybe dentists, who spent their working lives looking into other beings’ ugly mouths, weren’t so stupid after all. Perhaps there was a money-making link.
“The question is,” he asked. “What came first? The dentist or the Easter egg?”
©April 11, 2000 John Martin. All Rights Reserved