Recently we were sitting in a Chinese restaurant, reading the placemat while waiting for our food. Printed on the placemat was the commonly found Chinese Zodiac signs. Every time I see this placemat I glance at the 12 animal signs, looking closely at the various critters which I assume I am – Dragon, Tiger, Horse, – only to find I’m none of them. So I move to the animals which I could accept being if I wasn’t one of my first choices – Dog, Rooster, Ox – again to be denied.
After striking out twice, I start getting nervous about what kind of Chinese Zodiac animal I might be. I’m not a Rat, nor a Snake – whew! Not a Pig, nor a Monkey nor a Goat. Ah, there I am – the Rabbit. Seriously? Rabbit? I can’t think of anything that I have in common with a Rabbit, other than it’s not a Rat. Seeking understanding, I read the description.
The first sentence in the description of the Rabbit sign is “Luckiest of all signs”. Oh, ok. Suddenly, I’m fine with being a Rabbit.
I’ve always been lucky. Here’s my earliest recollection of my good luck.
One summer afternoon, I must have been 4ish, I was home alone and rummaging through the drawers looking for something to eat. I discovered that the bread drawer had a couple of bags of Congo Squares (I have no idea where the name came from, but that’s what we called them – think chocolate chip sheet cookies). It was unprecedented for there to be cookies in the bread drawer and highly suspect. My brain tried to wrap around the “why” the cookies were there, and failed. What my brain did conceive was that with that many cookies, surely a couple wouldn’t be missed.
I opened one of the bags and immediately noticed another mystery–the Congo Squares hadn’t been cut – they had been just been pried out of the pan. They were Congo giant pieces! Hmmm, what could this mean? Again, I used my extraordinarily keen, 4 year old, spatial awareness skills and determined that I could remove 1 giant piece and it would not be immediately evident. I set aside a piece, a little bigger than a pie tin, and carefully put the rest back in the bag. I carefully reassembled the bread drawer, making sure everything went back in as it had come out.
I remember it was a beautiful sunny day and not too hot. I know it wasn’t too hot because I don’t remember getting melted chocolate chips all over my hands. Naturally, I jumped on my trike. Nothing makes a cookie taste better than a tricycle on a sunny day. I slowly rode my trike, steering with one hand, holding my giant cookie with the other hand.
I’d been gnawing on that cookie for about five minutes when I happened to look up and see my Mom’s car coming down the road. I had about 15 seconds before she’d see me in the front yard, giant cookie in hand. I spent about 12 of those seconds frozen in place, my mouth firmly applied to the cookie, taking a big bite. My brain is much the same today – incapable of stopping mid-bite on a cookie.
So, there I was, sitting on my tricycle, in the wide open front yard, with a still giant cookie in my mouth when Mom turned the corner. With three seconds before she would unquestionably see me, I did the only thing I could think of. I tore open the snaps on my trusty cowboy shirt and thrust the giant cookie inside. Well played, four-year-old Guy, well played.
Mom pulled into the driveway and came over to see what I was doing – the way all Moms do when they see their kids doing absolutely nothing wrong. I stayed seated on my trike, since standing would have birthed a giant cookie. With the steady nerves of a gambler, I talked with Mom. After 20 seconds, Mom asked what I had in my shirt. There is only 1 answer for that – “Nothing.” My Mom was just like most moms – she had x-ray vision and 6th, 7th & 8th senses. That’s the only way I can explain that she was able to spot a cookie the size of my head hidden inside my shirt.
When she again asked what I had inside my shirt, I knew better than to lie twice. I fessed up that I had taken a cookie from the bread drawer. What happened next, can only be explained by being born a Chinese Rabbit. As I unsnapped my shirt and pulled the giant cookie out, Mom said “I burned those and said you could eat them if you wanted.” WHAT?!?!
I can only explain that unimaginable twist of circumstance as the luck of the Rabbit. I went from facing the sting of getting caught being naughty and much more importantly, the inevitable loss of that giant cookie, to eating a giant Congo square with a clear conscience. Mom left me to revel in that sunny, tricycle riding, cookie eating day.
I don’t have many memories from that age, but this one is crystal clear. It stands out as the first time I realized my life was charmed. I realize that some will interpret this event very differently. If I’d been paying attention to my Mom in the first place, I could have eaten the cookies without any fear. I should have asked my Mom’s permission before doing something I thought to be impermissible. Lots of possible interpretations, but they’d all be wrong. Luck, that’s the explanation.