Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The Curious Case of The Bunny in the Nighttime- A Knuffle Kerfuffle.
This past August we threw a rather large ice cream social in our back yard. We got an enormous jumpy house and gallons and gallons of ice cream. We invited a family that we were hoping to get to know better. This family owns an Indian restaurant that we frequent. We like Indian food a lot. The owner, let's call him Raj, is super friendly, generous, and knows what it is like having small children. We first met him several years ago. He's watched us toast to finishing our adoption dossier, eat celebratory samosas when we got our referral, and walk through the door with two scared Ethiopians about to try chicken Tikka Masala for the first time. My very first impression of Raj was formed when we brought another couple to the restaurant for the first time. Our friend's son was having a meltdown and the one other person in the restaurant was shaking his head, and complaining about the noise. My friend took her son out for a walk. She returned when he fell asleep. Raj walked over to her and placed an appetizer on her plate "I know what it is like," he said.We had talked to Raj about getting together outside of the restaurant. He worked all the time, but asked if we would consider attending his housewarming party, "Of course," we said. We never received an invitation but when our party rolled around we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to have them over. He came with his adorable children, a girl 8, and a boy 7. They had jet black hair and big, deep, brown eyes that may have tied with our kids' eyes for biggest, brownest, and most beautiful. They heaped their bowls with ice cream, whipped cream, cherries, sprinkles, chocolate sauce, and m&m's. They ate and ate. It was a fun party, but I was a bit overwhelmed by how large it was. I wish I had hired a teenager to help out with the drinks, as I felt that I was too busy to really talk to all of our guests.
Raj had to get back to the restaurant and I saw him at the door. I was carrying Melese, and I hugged Raj goodbye. He was standing between his kids on our threshold. I bent down to say goodbye to them, and to let Melese say goodbye to them. All of the sudden I noticed that Raj's daughter was holding one of Meazi and Melese's stuffed Easter bunnies. Odd, I thought, Meazi isn't usually so generous with her toys and I didn't normally see her give toys away to people she had just met. I stumbled and said, "Oh". I looked at Melese and his eyes had become gigantic. He looked at the bunny, looked at me, and then back at the girl.
And then, I faltered. Mom Fail.
I said gracious goodbyes as they hurried into their car. I closed the door and Melese stared at me with a look I hadn't seen before. "Melese," I said, did you give those kids your bunny?" He shook his head no. Hoping that Meazi had been so taken with the girl that she had presented her with a parting bunny gift, I smiled at him and said let's get back to the party.
Later, after everyone had gone home, and after the air had been let out of that monstrosity beside the house, I asked Meazi if she had given her bunny to Raj's daughter. She shook her head no, and began to cry.
And then sob.
"Buuuuuuuuuun Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun! My Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun Buuuuuuuuuun!"
Then Melese began to cry. His bunny could not be located either.
Steven and I sat Meazi down and tried to talk about the situation. We asked her to describe what happened, perhaps there was a misunderstanding and the girl thought the bunny was a gift? Meazi looked confused. Her face made us think that something weird was going on. I began to immediately try to diffuse the crying, "Just things! Just material possessions! Let it go Meazi." (This is sometimes a tricky thing with our kids with whom we worked so hard, encouraging them to form attachments to items. When they came home they were used to communal, orphanage toys. Early on, when they showed attachment with a toy, blanket, or article of clothing, we took it as a good sign! They knew they would now have their very own things! They didn't have to share.) "Just things Meazi and Melese!" I said.
"We need to call them."
I recoiled in horror. The thought of Steven calling our friend (our friendship had just moved to a new level! We were ice cream socializing!) and asking him if his darlings were indeed kleptomaniac bunny stealers was terribly upsetting.
"Please Don't Call Them!" I shouted! Let them keep the bunnies. Both Meazi and Melese were still whimpering.
Steven picked up the phone and called the restaurant. I heard him speak to Raj's wife, a beautiful, beautiful woman, who always wore intricate, sparkly, colorful saris, and had always been very kind to us. He explained the situation, and in a very diplomatic way asked, if perhaps there was a misunderstanding about the bunnies. He was very clear, kind, and managed to make it sound like it wasn't a big deal, and that he just wanted to know what the situation was so that we could discuss it with Meazi. He hung up.
Embarrassed, I said, 'I can't believe you called?" Steven shrugged his shoulders. I immediately imagined all sorts of horrible scenarios with Raj's kids getting punished for stealing. Did they spank in their family? What would happened to those big eyed beauties? What would happen to the bunnies? Would Melese ever forgive me for faltering at the door? Why, oh why didn't I say, "Oh those bunnies stay here sweetie! They are just toys to play with while at the party! Would you like a gallon of ice cream to take home?"
Raj and his family didn't call back. Weeks went by. I drove by the restaurant quite often, glancing in the window wondering how they were and when we were going to go back and have dinner there again.
Months passed. Now it was the elephant in the room. We didn't purposely avoid them, but when choices for a dinner out were suggested, we chose take out burritos.
Meazi added this incident to 'The Many Ways Mom has Failed Me' list, occasionally shaking her head and saying, "I still can't believe you gave away my Easter bunny mom!"
Steven and I speculated about what might have happened. Maybe they were angry with us? Maybe Raj's wife never told him that we called? Maybe we had failed at being friends too.
Six months later...
I am in the house getting ready for a rare weekday evening out. I am headed to see Lenny Kravitz in concert with my gorgeous friend Katerina. The kids are outside with Steven, playing in the yard. I hear some commotion, walk out and see Raj in our driveway. He is carrying a large bag of food; all of our favorite dishes, samosas, Tikka Masala, garlic nan, and rice. He is carrying a small plastic grocery bag tied in a tight knot. He is talking to Steven, and Meazi is running toward me shouting that he has brought us dinner. He hands me the small plastic bag and says, "I'm so sorry. I've had them at the restaurant for months. I lost your number when I lost my phone. I thought I'd just give them to you when you came to the restaurant next. I remembered you lived in this neighborhood, but I didn't have your address. I'm so happy to have found you."
I opened the plastic bag, and there they were, Meazi and Melese's stuffed Easter bunnies. One was a little worse for wear, having gained black streaks of what appears to be Sharpie marker. The other looked just as we had left her.
We stared at Raj. We thanked him profusely and told him how sorry we were about the whole thing, and about how much we missed him. He rushed off, needing to get back to the restaurant. The four of us stood there dumbfounded in our yard holding the bunnies, and our gigantic bag of food, the scent of curry wafting above us.