There comes a time in every person’s life that when they realize that sometimes life sucks a lot. Obviously there are various degrees of suck, as many an insane homeless man will happily tell you, but at some point all toys turn to troubles. For me, that day came in first grade. It was then I realized, for the first time, that life can be one cruel bitch.
It was a beautiful spring day, and I was running around outside; probably, as I was wont to do as a child, being incredibly mediocre at soccer in my backyard. I was playing by myself; the art of which, being an only child, I had honed at a young age. I was running, I was passing, and I was shooting. I didn’t know who or what exactly I was playing against, but I did know one thing: I was kicking that guy’s ass. The speed with which I was travelling was truly a sight to behold. I was an athlete. I was a blur. I was motherfucking Pele.
My dad was mowing the lawn or raking leaves or some shit; whatever it was, it was something that I couldn’t be bothered with. I was in my own world, breaking down the defense and ripping shots that were making life a living hell for my neighbors. I was sweaty, and I was tired; but I was a goddamn winner. At some point, my dad shouted for me to look at something.
I was annoyed. I’m busy winning my imaginary team a fucking championship, and this guy has the nerve to call me over for some sort of landscaping job? I’m a soccer star, not some sort of lowly peasant. My manager was going to hear about this.
However, as I made my way behind the shed that was doubling as my primary defender, my attitude did a 180. Irritation became jubilation as I saw my dad pointing to what was unmistakably a bird’s nest, and in the middle: a baby blue robin’s egg. Holy shit. I punched the air. First I win my team a soccer championship and now I come across a perfectly preserved bird’s egg? This was validation. This was heaven. This was the best day of my fucking life.
I watched as my dad took the egg inside. He was being remarkably careless with it, which pissed me off; didn’t he know how much this meant to me? I was about to make that week’s Show-And-Tell my bitch. Oh, Steven brought in a bunch of popsicle sticks he glued together? What a shitty thing to show your classmates. Sit your punk ass down, Steven, and check out this thing that has an effing BABY ANIMAL inside it.
As soon as the egg was safe in the house, I set about researching this wonder of the natural world. These were the pre-internet days, so I turned to literature and poured over every book that I could get my hands on. I would leave no page unturned in my quest to discover this egg’s secrets.
To my dismay, neither Charlie Brown nor Clifford the Big Red Dog books covered bird eggs. I was surprised, and frankly, a little disappointed. Not a single mention of a robin eggs in the entire Charlie Brown canon? I realized that Charles Schulz was, in fact, a slacking piece of trash. He lures little kids to his books, which are devoid of any real information at all. My hate at Charles Schulz peaked, and I threw my copy of It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown across my room. Useless piece of shit.
My dad told me that he doubted the egg would hatch; after all, its mother had left it to die. I shrugged it off. We find an egg and all of a sudden my dad becomes a wildlife expert? He didn’t even watch The Wild Thornberry’s with me. This guy didn’t know dick about wildlife. No, this egg was going to hatch, and I was going to raise from its cracked and crumbling shell a bird capable of tremendous things. Extraordinary things. They might even give me my own nature show. Hell, they should give me my own nature show.
I wasn’t able to sleep that night, kept awake by the prospect of so much leisure and riches. Tomorrow was my destiny and I was going to seize it, just like that cripple boy in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He was damn good at ringing those bells.
The next day, I dressed quickly. As my mom drove me to school, I made sure the egg was safe and sound in its Ziploc bag. Initially, I had requested the egg be put in something where it would be safer; I figured the vault at my parents’ bank would suffice for the time being, at least until we found something a bit more secure. In lieu of the vault, my parents gave me a sandwich bag. Oh well. I wasn’t going to let them rain on my parade.
A few minutes later, I stepped into my position in line outside our classroom. Every day, we had to line up in alphabetical order in the hallway before class. It was crucial. I knew my position; this wasn’t my first rodeo. I looked around and began to smile. The rest of the class had no idea what was about to go down. I was about to blow their goddamn minds with this little blue egg, and the little fuckers didn’t even see it coming.
As I stood there, brimming with excitement, a boy named John called me over. His last name began with an S. Mine began with a J.
I was nervous. We were told to stand in order for a reason; while I didn’t really know what that reason was, I didn’t want to openly flout authority on this, quite possibly the most important day of my life.
I glanced around. Our teacher was nowhere to be seen. Not wanting to look like a pussy of the highest degree, I tensely made my way over to John.
“What do you have there?” he asked, pointing to my egg.
I stiffened. How had he spotted it? There were at least 10 people in between he and I, yet he called me out. Did he have some sort of x-ray vision, like Superman? Was I attending school with the Son of Superman? Holy shit. I was going to school with the Son of Superman. Shaking off this shocking revelation, I assessed the situation. I saw two options: tell him that it’s an egg, or try to keep it under wraps. If I told him what this glorious thing was, he would obviously call other people over to look at it too. As far as I knew, this was the first robin’s egg to ever be discovered in the history of man. THE FIRST EVER. And I’m going to let him ruin the surprise for me? No. No, I was going to have to play it cool, calm, and collected, and casually explain that it was just nothing, just something I found in my backyard.
“This? Oh, it’s nothing. Just something I found in my backyard,” I said, casual as all fuck.
“Let me see it,” he shouted, and lunged toward me.
Time slowed. I saw him grab the edge of the bag, his grubby, sausage-like fingers slipping on the plastic. I saw the bag rip, and the egg fall toward the earth. I saw it hit the floor. I saw it break. I saw my dreams shattered.
Who could I blame for this tragedy? My parents? This wouldn’t have happened if the egg was securely locked in a bank vault, as I had originally proposed. Surely John S. didn’t have access to bank vaults. Did John S. have access to bank vaults? I couldn’t be sure. I didn’t know how high this conspiracy stretched. For all I knew, the kid had been hired to sabotage my glory by higher powers. Charles Schulz probably put him up to it, the fucker.
I looked up to the sky and did what any other first grader would have done: I cried. I cried for the egg, so beautiful, so broken. I cried for my classmates because they had all been robbed of seeing the egg, which lay in pieces on the ground. I even cried for John S., because he would doubtless have to answer for his crime, whether that be to the teacher, principle, or an even higher power.
But most of all, I cried for myself. Gone was my triumph. Gone were the nature shows, the worldwide tours, the respect of my peers. All of them, gone.