Mr. wOw, B., and the Tale of the Easter Swan

Mr. wOw's Easter swan

Every relationship has its rituals — but as Mr. wOw learns, it’s the small ones that end up mattering the most

Many years ago—back in the fabulous early 1980’s (well, if you didn’t factor in AIDS), B. went off to Denmark. He was a medical researcher and was … researching in Denmark. B. was away a while. He loved Denmark. He loved the work he was doing and the people he was working with. Especially one fellow. Cute and  smart. Doctor smart. Just like B., Mr. wOw was nervous.

When B. went off for a second stay in Denmark, he said, “wOw, why don’t come along? Everyone would love to meet you.” This was odd. B. was and is a shy guy, who needs some prodding in the social area. One of the reasons he liked me is that I wasn’t shy, once I relaxed, and would always strike up animated conversations with strangers, and had friends, and brought people over. This eventually ended—it was too much work for me: I cooked I cleaned, they were my friends, I entertained. I got tired. I was working nine to five.

But B. gregarious himself, in another country?! This I had to see. So I braved my very first plane ride to Denmark. I was terrified, but made a hell of a lot of acquaintances during the seven or eight hours in the air. I also drank a lot. Not that it helped. (It was the beginning of many years of air travel, and imbibing way up there.) Denmark was wonderful, and in many ways B. was a different person. Not totally, but that’s another more serious tale (perhaps to be published here when the wOw powers no longer find my serious, intimate tales too shocking for you all. There is one such waiting.)  I met B.’s friend and was properly jealous. But, I kind of got over it. I loved Denmark too. And we often went to a park in the middle of Copenhagen and admired the swans. We loved swans, despite their famously irritable nature. They were always polite to us.

I left Denmark. B. followed a few weeks later. He returned – depressed, it seemed to me. Was he longing for Denmark and his doctor pal? Was he regretting me? I was so childish. So poor. Not his equal, I was sure. Finally, I asked him, “Do you want to go back? Do you want to separate. We’ve only been together six years, we’re young. You have time to make another life.” His answer was a curt, final, “no!” (Big girly conversations are not his forte, though he allows me an annual monologue.) He seemed to improve somewhat, but I thought he still missed Denmark. It troubled me. Then one day at the supermarket I found a large plastic swan. I brought it home, filled the bathtub and put him in to float.

When B. came from work I said we’d received a visitor, who was splashing around in our tub. B. hurried upstairs, and I wondered what kind of visitor he was hoping to find in our tub? (That cute kid down the block?) Well, it was the plastic swan, serene. B. was amused, perhaps even touched. I was (am) so rarely sensitive when I should be. He seemed better after that.

We tucked the swan away, and I never thought of it again until Easter rolled around. I woke up Easter Sunday to find our swan jam-packed with sweet goodies of all kinds. I love candy. B. said: “I heard the flapping of wings last night, and he suddenly appeared with all this stuff. It was quite a journey. He can stay awhile, yes?” Of course! Who turns away a swan bearing chocolate?

We must have been hospitable enough. Every year since—more than 25, now—our Easter swan has arrived, loaded down with sweet gifts. He always comes when I am asleep. Sometimes B. expresses concern about the weather, and the swans great age, but he always comes through, not much altered by time, though no great conversationalist. He stays until we’ve pretty much finished off his gifts. He always leaves quietly in the night. Sometimes B. is awake and bears a message—the swan has had a relaxing time, loves us, and will be back next year.

All relationships have rituals. Funny little nicknames and habits. Sometimes they start out annoying but oddly you grow to depend on and even love them. The swan started out as a nervous joke by an insecure Mr. wOw, hoping to charm his B. Today, if anything happened to that damn plastic swan I think I’d have to be strapped down and medicated.

I’d like to go back to Denmark someday with B. Look at the swans again. And maybe bring a present to our swan (he’s definitely a Dane.) After all, he’s given us so much. And I don’t just mean chocolate rabbits.

Happy Easter to you all—whether it is a time of spiritual contemplation or bunny rabbits and colored eggs. Or just a few days off.

I must go. Jelly beans are beckoning.

 

40 comments so far.

  1. avatar Andy C says:

    Mr. Wow — What a delightful story.  Though we don’t celebrate Easter (we’re the few days off people), being married as long as we have, we too have certain rituals, catchphrases, looks that no one would understand or appreciate.  Thank you for sharing yours. 

    I do hope you had a wonderful Easter again and that the Easter Swan has visited.

    Miss you, you know how I worry — didn’t call, didn’t write……I was getting concerned.

  2. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Dear Andy…in fact that is the Swan himself in the pic. Only moments after arriving.

    Never worry.  I’m always around. 

  3. avatar calgal says:

    Oh, the love! Thank you. Best Easter present ever (the chocolates are virtual and therefore non-fattening). You let us see right into your heart; I feel very privileged. I LOVE your writing!

  4. avatar Lila says:

    Aw, what a great tradition! And so personal!

    I guess the only tradition we have is one I brought back from Moscow: a Russian friend there gave me a birch-bark bowl and a lacquer spoon for New Year’s. If you make sure to fill the bowl to the brim with goodies, and put it and the spoon on your table, then your house will be blessed with plenty all year.

    So far it has worked pretty well.

    We used to have a Valentine’s Day tradition of 11 roses. That was the day Hubby proposed with a bouquet and only later discovered the florist had shorted him one rose. So for some years afterward, the 11 roses were our tradition, but that eventually fell by the wayside. I won’t complain though… the roses were replaced with a box of Godiva.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      I do the burning bowl every New Years’s Eve.  My “darken not my door again” bowl.  Seems to work.

      I also wrap dollar bills in a cabbage leaf and tuck it under my pillow. Seems to work for Jeanette Longoria. Doesn’t work for me. Maybe I’m using the wrong kind of cabbage?

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear Baby…okay, please explain–the dollar bill and the cabbage.  I like dollar bills and I like cabbage.  Would they do me good under my pillow?

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Only on News Years’ Eve. Maybe it only works for Jeanette Longoria. I don’t know. Each year, well,  you know, what do you have to lose? I think she should run for president.  She would turn this country around real quick. No one in Congress would dare argue with her. And she’s fun.  We need fun in this country, you know?  

        I enjoyed my jelly beans. Hope you enjoyed yours.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Lila….Hmmmmm.  Along with Baby’s cash and cabbage ritual, your  Russian bowl and spoon sound pretty good too.

      Oh, I  like that story of the 11 roses.  But yeah, Godiva means just as much.  More, as time goes on. 

  5. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    You both are absolute jewels. Although now I have to go back out.  For jelly beans…

  6. avatar CYNTHIA NEIL says:

    Thanks Mr. Wow. for those of us whose traditions are untraditional, it is always a gift to be reminded, we are not alone.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Cynthia—oh, we untraditionals are a hardy group.    We are never alone and there are always more of us  than…they think.

  7. avatar Jon T says:

    What a sweet story. And I love that the swan still makes annual visits. :-) Thanks for sharing!

  8. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Dear Jon…yes, we were afraid the swan wouldn’t be able to find us when we moved.  But as he said–”what, you know how many people celebrate Easter like you two, in Hoboken, New Jersey?  And you only moved three blocks.”

    The Swan does not suffer fools gladly.

  9. avatar rick gould says:

    Well, there’s The Great Pumpkin, and you have The Great Easter Swan ;)

    As always, a lovely read, Mr. wOw.
    And I love the company your swan keeps ;)

    Rick

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Rick….and she loves the swan.  And what he brings.  Although sometimes I think I hear a familiar girlish voice asking, “uh, where’s the jewelry?”

  10. avatar crystalclear says:

    Nice story, Mr. Wow, although it held an element of sadness for me. 

      In my home, Easter was celebrated by going to church and roasting a leg of lamb and the children waking up to large Easter baskets filled with goodies.   I can still see their eager little faces waiting at the top of the stairs to get the okay to sprint into the living room where the Easter Bunny had stopped the night before.    Wonderful memories. 

       I don’t know when it happened but one Easter the Bunny had stopped delivering, the grown children never wanted to go to church and presented themselves as our large Easter dinner declaring they were now vegetarians turning their noses up at the beautiful perfectly roasted leg of lamb sitting in the middle of our table.    If we aren’t experiencing change in our lives then we are not living.    I’m one of those mothers who turned around one day to find that the children had grown up.   It was painless in its progression but still shocked me into reality.    So, now, what do I do to celebrate Easter?

    No more Easter baskets.    No more large family dinners with fresh tulips in the center of the table.    No more eager and bright smiling faces waiting at the top of the stairs asking, “Did the Easter Bunny stop here?”    Did he?   Did he?    

    The years have gone by,  the children have grown and now have children of their own.   When I called them yesterday morning I heard the little ones squealing over what the Easter Bunny left them and Daddy could be heard in the background saying, “No, you may not eat that now or you won’t be hungry for your Easter breakfast that Mommy always makes for us!”    

    New traditions are born to celebrate Easter whether it be an “organic Easter basket” or a beautiful swan filled with treats.

    I hope everyone had a meaningful Passover or Easter celebration and a nice day with those they love.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      DEar Crystal…your traditions were lovely, and quite traditional.  Neither B. nor I have have family left (well, I might–but after my mother’s death I realized her sisters and my survivings cousins could only bring trouble; a disastrously screwed up bunch.) 

      Don”t be sad.  THose memories are wonderful.  I hope your holiday  had true  meaning and joy.  

      I did watch “King of Kings,” so I wasn’t totally out of the loop of what Easter is supposed to mean.  But I was miffed at TCM didn’t show “Ben Hur.”

      • avatar crystalclear says:

        Thanks, Mr. Wow.   Yes, we celebrated the day Greek Style at a local Greek restaurant complete with lemon chicken soup, lamb, baklava, live music and the breaking of the plates!

        Change is good.   We watched Lark Risiing in Candleford early evening while sharing a beautiful bottle of French Chablis.   

        You ARE the best!

      • avatar rick gould says:

        I remember when Easter Sunday meant “The Ten Commandments”!
        Us kids would alternately marvel at the epic and mercilessly joke about the incredibly cheesy acting… But this, “The Wizard of Oz” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” were movie traditions and calendar markers in our household ;)

  11. avatar Richard Bassett says:


    Mr WoW,

    Very sweet and reminiscent to when I was a child with the candy, and such. Does B live with you? I received Easter Baskets until I was about 12. I do come from a big family, older than I am…so they’ve had traditions that I was born into, like coloring eggs, my Mom’s Polish baked goods, and always get palms on palm Sunday…all of us slapping each other with them wishing “God health, wealth and good life’. The palms were then placed on the edges of mirrors for the rest of the year. I tried a traditional Easter egg hunt (with real colored eggs) throughout the house for all the nieces and nephews, but that abruptly ended when they only found half of the eggs…and the rest, detected by odor, were located sometime in the summer. I couldn’t remember where I put them. As a child, dressing up and visiting grandparents then going to church (before indulging in our candy) was a necessity too. But even with all the brothers and sister-in-laws, our matriarch mother had official Easter dinner for all of us until she died, in 1993. Then (for his sake) the official Easter dinner was at my father’s house until he died in 2002. But, as siblings…this holiday splintered into many sibling gatherings with their children and grandchildren. My last (and longest term) partner had a mother, who died in 2006. She was from a very religious background and from 1993 until 2003…attending church was always a ‘must’. I remained close to her to the end. A second mother when my own died. But since then, there have been no official family gathers. Siblings all get together for lunch about a week before the holiday; we are a bit spread out, with a sister in Florida. My siblings are all in their 60′s and 70′s now. I’ve had so many good memories about Easter’s of the past. I haven’t had a long term partner since 2004 (I thought five…including a wife…was enough), There are the occasional get together with friends, but nothing formal. This holiday just passes by. Now, if I could meet an open minded priest……..

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      It’s a wonder we all managed to survive the Easter egg hunts – those eggs lying around for hours on warm spring days.  We weren’t allowed to eat ours. My mother would make egg salad so perhaps something in the olives killed the salmonella. Or maybe we were just lucky.  Eventually we moved on to the chocolate eggs.  Which of course often had melted inside the foil wrappers. And were probably not much safer than the hard-boiled eggs.
      I never did understand Easter. The real “hallellujah” always seemed to be finding the most eggs. Or finding the plastic ones that had cash inside!

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Richard…yes, B. and I have lived together since 1976. 
      He was declared a living saint at some point in the mid 1990′s.
       

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        So who says “gay relationships” don’t work? Yours seems to have worked better than many  of the “straight relationships”  in these modern “trade-in last year’s model for this years’s model” times.  Certainly longer than mine but then I really didn’t have relationships. Just affairs and flings. And four “admirers” I could have done without.

  12. avatar Chandara Sun says:

    Thank you so much for sharing that, Mr. WoW. There’s nothing like reading an incredibly sweet AND true story in the morning with my cup of coffee :)

  13. avatar HauntedLady says:

    Having a particular fondness for swans, I really enjoyed this. When my older niece was little, she had an Easter Moose. I’ve had Easter cats for years. It really doesn’t matter as long as the love and warmth are there. Oh, and the chocolate. Must have the chocolate.

  14. avatar mary burdt says:

    Hi Mr. Wow, I love your Easter tradition involving the swan. Traditions that bring anticipation and joy are keepers. Your story is especially sweet.

    My husband passed away in January and this is the first holiday I have spent without him for more than 50 years. What I missed most on Easter morning this year was the Easter card I always found on the kitchen table leaning against the napkin holder with the words on the envelope reading: ‘To My Darling Wife”. Wonderful memories.

  15. avatar D C says:

    This year there were no Easter Baskets, no chocolate bunnies at my house.  My daughter spent the weekend with her College Roommates family out of state, and my boys are 18 and 15 — not too old for candy, really, but it just felt kind of silly.  I had picked up 3 lovesly woven baskets in Easter colors at my ladies group meeting earlier this month (the prizes were in the baskets — I won one, and 2 others didn’t want their baskets so gave to me).  Anyway… I filled the biggest one up with chocolates last weekend and we’ve been noshing on it all week.  Felt kind of silly to do the egg thing.  But I must admit… I missed it.  And found myself daydreaming of the day when I will have grandchildren, and will enjoy the egg coloring and hiding and finding all over again.

  16. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Dear Mary…my heart and prayers are with you.  50 years.  Well, me and B. are getting up there—35 and counting.    You seem strong, I know you’ll cope.  Cliche!!  Unfortunately I can’t give you anything but cliches at a time like this. 

    Love,
    Mr. W. 

  17. avatar D C says:

    One of my most precious Easter memories was 1996.  I was in the hospital, waiting for #3 to be born.  I had been on bed rest for months, and my doctor sent me to the hospital 4 weeks early when upon examination, found I was already dilated to 5 cm, and “with a preemie, you don’t need 10cm to get that baby out.”  I ended up sitting in that hospital 11 days before they finally decided to induce labor rather than risk sending me home and me having him there.  During that time, we had Easter, so my husband brought the two older children up to my room, with all the needed supplies (cups, 12 boiled eggs, dye, newspaper, etc) and we colored eggs on the floor of my hospital room.  My daughter was 7 and my son was 3.  It was a sweet sweet time.  My husband even took them out of the room and I hid the eggs under my pillow, in the drawer, in the sink… I just cried and cried when he took them home that day. 

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear DC…Women!  Strong!  No man I know would be coloring Easter eggs while practically giving birth. 

      Of course, no man I know would willingly give birth.  It takes a woman to make the world. 

  18. avatar Daniel Sugar says:

    “Oh, you’ve gotta have a swan or you’re out of luck,
    ’cause a chicken wouldn’t do, it would only cluck.
    And besides, you couldn’t say, “I saw Chicken Lake Ballet,”
    They would think you don’t know nothin’,
    that you’re missin’ you a button,
    ’cause a chicken’s only good for consomme!
    Yes, a chicken or a duck is a mistake,
    When you do “Swan Lake”.

    Barbra Streisand – “Funny Girl”

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Daniel…

      “Whaddya gonna do?  Shoot da swans?  Dese lovelies?  My swan goils?”

      Gotta have that intro, baby. 

      • avatar Daniel Sugar says:

        2 days after the Oscars this year, I saw her.

        (She walked into the Polo Lounge and everyone froze. She walked to the back, said hello to a few people and then left. As soon as she left, everyone started talking at once. I’ve never seen anything like it. (Star power.)

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Daniel…and I forgot even more:

        “Can’t you see when you look on me what a lovely creature is a swan–yoo-hoo!   I’m all over fluffy white and wouldn’t beck at you or bite, and have teeny twinkle toes to dance upon!”

  19. avatar crystalclear says:

    “Swa – neee, how I love ya how I love ya my dear old Swa-neeeeeeeeeee”  !!!!!!!!!!!

  20. avatar Amaterasu says:

    Thank you Mr. wOw for sharing that great story and everyone else who shared their stories on the comments. I love reading them.
    This was the first Easter I can remember that we didn’t have children at our house with baskets and candy and toys and eggs. The family split this year between two locations. My children are grown and no grandchildren yet.

  21. avatar Steve C says:

    A beautiful story.  Touching and funny.  Like its author.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Thank you Steve!…although I certainly have my less than touching moments (read today’s Mr. Wow–I can be stubbon and bitchy.)