The Ugliest Egg
Good Friday – 9:00 am
The sound of the back door opening told Joanne DeSoto that her husband was home. She finished dusting the table before she ventured back to see him. There was so much to be done today because tomorrow they were having Easter dinner. It was a day early since Roy would be on duty on Easter Sunday but it would be Easter dinner nonetheless. Roy’s mother was coming as was Joanne’s sister and Johnny would be there too, of course.
“I’m home,” she heard her husband call out.
Upon entering the kitchen, she found Roy pouring milk into a bowl of cereal and felt a pang of guilt that she hadn’t made him anything substantial to eat.
“Chris spent the night at Jason’s last night and Jenny wasn’t very hungry so I didn’t cook this morning. Plus I have a million things to do …”
“It’s all right,” Roy said cutting her off. “I’m not very hungry today anyway.” He spooned some cereal into his mouth. “Dwyer brought donuts in when he came on duty and I stole one of ‘em on my way out the door.”
Joanne kissed him on the top of his head as he continued to eat his cereal. “You want some juice?”
He nodded and glanced over at her to make sure she’d noticed.
“Where’s the newspaper,” he asked looking around. “It wasn’t out front.” Joanne sat the glass of juice down on the table in front of him. “Thanks,” he said as he immediately picked it up and took a sip.
“Your welcome, and your daughter confiscated the newspaper for egg dyeing tonight,” she told him as she sat down in the chair next to his.
Roy smiled. “She can have it after I read it,” he said with a chuckle. Finishing the last of his cereal, he pushed the bowl towards the center of the table and turned towards his wife. She was wearing a sleeveless shirt and he ran his fingers down her arm. “I’ve got a surprise for you,” he said suggestively and her cheeks turned a shade darker.
Joanne immediately looked around for her daughter and then turned back to Roy. “A surprise, hmmm?”
“Does this involve some alone time for just the two of us,” she asked looking hopeful. She couldn’t remember when they’d last had that.
Again, Roy nodded. “You interested?”
She smiled brightly. “You know it,” she told him quickly.
Roy captured her hand in his and absentmindedly stroked it with his thumb. “You remember when I told you about Micelli getting hurt?”
Joanne nodded wondering where this was going and how it was a surprise for her. But she did remember Roy telling her about one of the firemen from 110’s getting hurt.
“He’s the rookie that somehow or another had gotten turned around in that fire last week when the call out order was given. Johnny and I had to go back in to get him. He wasn’t too bad off – just ate a little smoke.”
Joanne nodded. “And this is a surprise for me how,” she quipped.
“Micelli’s parents own a little Italian place and they’ve invited us to come for dinner. On the house,” he finally explained.
“Roy, if the place is called Micelli’s, I’ve heard of that place. It’s not just a little Italian place,” she stammered in response.
“It’s not,” he asked surprised.
“No, it’s not. Janice and Steve ate there a couple weeks ago. She absolutely loved it but it’s kind of out of our league price wise,” she said excitedly but immediately regretted it. She saw conflicting emotions run across Roy’s face. She knew that he didn’t want to be seen as taking advantage but she did so want to go there.
“When are we going,” she asked quickly without giving him a chance to voice his new reluctance.
“I told him we’d be there tonight at six,” Roy replied shaking his head, “but now I don’t know if we should.”
Tonight, Joanne thought. This was possibly the worst night that he could have come up with. The kids had haircuts this afternoon and she had cleaning to do and then there was the egg dyeing that Jenny was so desperate to do. It was a tradition that they dye eggs on Good Friday and Joanne didn’t want to disappoint the kids. She was torn.
“Ah, the hell with it,” Roy said making up his mind, “he invited us and it would be rude not to go now. So how about it, Jo?”
“What about the kids?”
“I asked Johnny this morning before we left the station and he agreed to watch the kids,” Roy told her.
“On a Friday night,” Joanne exclaimed with more than a little doubt.
Roy smiled. “Let’s just say he owed me one.”
Joanne tilted her head and gazed at him. “Why do I think there’s a story behind that?”
“Because there is. I mean it is Johnny we’re talking about here. There’s always story behind it,” he said jovially.
“I want to, Roy, I really do. But I promised the kids we’d do the eggs and everyone’s coming over tomorrow…”
“Johnny can do the eggs with the kids and since we actually got to sleep last night, I’ll help you get the cleaning done,” he offered.
Joanne chewed on her lip as she thought about it. The kids probably wouldn’t care if she were there as long as they got to do their eggs and Roy was offering to help clean. Why was this a hard decision?
Finally she agreed. It had been way too long since she and Roy had had a night to themselves and she wasn’t going to miss the opportunity.
John Gage rapped twice on his partner’s door before letting himself in. Roy was just coming down the stairs.
“Hey Roy,” Johnny greeted his friend.
“Hey Johnny. Right on time,” Roy said looking at his watch.
“Where’re the kids,” Johnny inquired. Usually Jenny was on the look out when she knew he was coming over and he was surprised that she hadn’t greeted him as usually did by throwing herself into his arms.
“Chris is at baseball practice but he should be getting dropped off soon and Jennifer’s watching the eggs cool.”
At Johnny’s confused look Roy added, “I forgot the kids were dyeing eggs until I got home.”
Johnny just continued to stare at Roy like his friend had lost his mind.
“You know, dye Easter eggs, Johnny,” Roy explained.
“I know about dyeing Easter eggs,” Johnny retorted, “I just haven’t done it in a long time. Besides I don’t think I owed you this big.” Johnny screwed up his face. “Kids and dyeing eggs. I think you’re gonna owe me for this one, Roy.”
“It’ll be fun, Partner. You’ll see. Besides the kids know what they’re doing and Joanne’s already got the eggs boiled,” Roy told his reluctant friend.
Johnny agreed but remained skeptical and it wasn’t long before Joanne came down the steps to join the men in the living room. Roy gave a low whistle when he saw her. It wasn’t often that Joanne had the opportunity to get “all dolled up” as Roy liked to say and when she did she went all out. Even Johnny was at a loss for words.
“You look wonderful, Honey,” Roy told his wife as she crossed the room towards him.
“Hello John,” Joanne greeted their babysitter for the evening.
“Hello, J-Jo,” Johnny managed to stammer and Joanne laughed at him.
“Is something wrong? Is it my dress,” she asked teasingly.
“Your’e dress is fine. It’s more than fine. It’s…It’s…”
Roy cut in. “I think you can stop right there, Johnny,” he said laughing at his friend’s expense.
“Wow, Jo. I mean you look great. I’m just not used to you looking like that,” he tried explaining.
Joanne tried her best to look hurt. “John Gage, are you saying that I usually look bad?”
“I told you to stop,” Roy piped in.
Immediately contrite, Johnny tried covering his blunder not realizing that Joanne was teasing him.
“No, of course not,” he said looking from Roy to Joanne. “You always look good, Jo…just a different kind of good.”
Joanne laughed at him then, and swatted him on the arm. “I was just playing with you, Johnny.”
Johnny breathed a sigh of relief as Joanne called out to tell Jennifer that they were leaving. The little girl came running into the room and made a beeline right for her favorite ‘uncle’.
“I didn’t know you were here,” she told him as he lifted her up and gave her a hug.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” Roy said turning towards Johnny, “I ordered a pizza for you and the kids for dinner. It should be here in about 20 minutes or so.”
“Pizza,” Johnny exclaimed as maintained his hold on Jennifer. “Good deal. I’m starved. How about you?”
The little girl laughed as she replied, “You’re always hungry, Uncle Johnny.”
“You got that right, Jen,” Roy quipped.
Roy and Joanne thanked Johnny again for sitting for them on such short notice and they kissed their daughter goodbye and made their way out the door. Both were looking forward to a nice long, leisurely dinner without any kids as distractions.
It wasn’t long before Chris arrived home from ball practice almost exactly at the same as the pizza was being delivered and Johnny sent the kids to get cleaned up as he set the table for dinner. He was glad that Joanne had paper plates on hand as that would minimize his clean up time and efforts later. He had a feeling he was going to have quite a mess to deal with after the egg dyeing.
Johnny wasn’t sure if the kids actually ate their pizza or if they inhaled it but they were done in a matter of minutes and were begging to start on the eggs. Both of them were so excited that Johnny didn’t have the heart to make them wait any longer. With both of the kids helping, the trash was thrown away, the table was wiped down and newspaper was laid down to protect it.
It amused Johnny to no end to see Jennifer giving the instructions just as he knew Joanne would have if she had been there. The paper had to cover every inch of the table, certain mugs had to be used because of the dye and they had to be really, really careful he was told.
“Here’s the dye, Uncle Johnny,” Jennifer called out running into the room with a box in her hand, which she promptly handed over to him.
Johnny looked down at the box. “Paas,” he asked, “what’s that?”
“That’s what you use for the eggs to color them,” Chris responded with disbelief.
“Yeah, don’t you know how to dye eggs,” Jenny asked.
Johnny was dumb-founded. “Of course, I know how to dye eggs,” he retorted as he splayed his free hand over his chest. “It’s just that we never used a kit. We made the dye ourselves.”
“Really,” Chris asked surprised. His mom never made the dye herself. “Why’d you do that?”
Johnny shook his head. “Because we didn’t have the kit,” he replied with a goofy smile. “How about we just get started, huh?”
Both kids shook their heads and ran to the table as Johnny opened the box. “You put one tablet in each cup,” Jennifer instructed and Johnny did as he was told.
“Okay, now we need vinegar and water,” he said reading the instructions off the box.
Chris pointed to the cabinet where Joanne kept the vinegar and Johnny retrieved it and measured out the required amounts of each liquid and added them to the dye cups that were lined up.
“I get to use the crayon first,” Chris hollered.
“That’s not fair,” Jennifer pouted.
“Is too. I called it,” her brother said gloating.
“Uncle Johnny, tell him it’s not fair,” she whined.
Johnny laid the crayon and the egg dipper on the table. Chris wasted no time in snatching up the crayon to which his sister loudly protested.
“Jenny, honey, you’ll get your turn,” he assured the little girl as he carried the big bowl containing the hard boiled eggs over and sat it on the table.
“Well then I get to use the dipper,” she declared loudly as she claimed it off the table.
Johnny rolled his eyes at the little antics as the two children argued about the instruments in question. He raised an eyebrow slightly when they came to a working arrangement without any adult intervention but he was pleased that they had.
Once the tablets had melted, the kids set to work with a minimal amount of help needed. They drew funny faces on some of the eggs and wrote their names. Jenny liked to make hers pink and yellow but Chris like to do multi-colored eggs. Johnny just watched in amusement but finally he had to ask.
“How about an ugliest egg contest?”
“Ugly eggs? Why would we want to make ugly eggs,” Jennifer asked in all her feminine innocence but Chris was immediately intrigued.
“Cool,” he exclaimed immediately taking his nice little green egg and dropping it in the blue dye.
“It’s a contest, Jenny, to see who can come up with the ugliest egg. I think I can even come up with a prize for the winner,” he added and that certainly got the young girls attention. She wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to win a prize and she set about making her egg as ugly as she knew how.
The egg dyeing took on a more frenetic pace and Johnny found himself almost regretting the suggestion, as dye seemed to be splashing all over the table. Thank God they’d used the paper to cover the table. Egg after egg was dyed as the children deemed that they weren’t ugly enough and set about working on another that was just bound to be better.
Finally the eggs were all dyed and left to dry on the counter. Johnny cleaned up all the paper and trash and wiped down the table just to make sure that nothing seeped through. As he rinsed out the mugs they’d used, he noticed the two kids staring at the eggs. They each had their own pile of eggs that they’d created and they were trying to decide who won.
“I have the ugliest egg,” Chris declared.
“Nuh-uh,” Jenny replied, “I do.”
This went on for a couple of minutes until they finally turned to Johnny. “Who wins, Uncle Johnny? Who has the ugliest egg,” Chris asked excitedly.
Johnny walked over and inspected their handiwork. “I don’t know,” he remarked, “there are some pretty ugly eggs here.”
“How can you have ugly eggs that are pretty,” Jenny asked smartly.
Johnny turned to smirk at her. “Think you’re funny, do you?”
The little girl giggled as she nodded her head.
“So, who wins,” Chris asked again impatient with waiting to know.
Johnny picked an egg up out of Chris’s pile. “This one is definitely an ugly egg,” he stated. But he quickly snatched one out of Jenny’s pile as well when he saw her face fall. “Of course, this one’s right up there with it.” He turned to the kids. “I think we have a tie,” he declared.
“Aww man,” Chris complained. “A tie. No way, Uncle Johnny, mine’s uglier than that thing. Jen doesn’t know how to make her eggs ugly,” he reasoned as he looked at his sister with a small amount of disdain.
“I do too know how to make an ugly egg. I made a whole bunch of them,” she spat back at him.
Johnny ever the peacemaker and not wanting to hurt either child’s feelings quickly spoke up. “Well, I’m the judge and I say it’s a tie. And so you both win a prize,” he told the pair. He reached into his pocket and pulled out some bills. Great, he thought, no ones. He pulled out two five-dollar bills and held them up. “You each win five dollars,” he declared as he handed them over to the children.
“Thanks, Uncle Johnny.”
“Your welcome. Now who wants to take their bath first,” he asked.
“She does.” “He does.” They responded in unison.
“Okay, paper, scissors, rock decides it,” he said shaking his head.
After doing it once and then twice and finally five times, Chris reluctantly headed off to the bathroom while Jenny turned back to the eggs.
“That was fun, Uncle Johnny,” she said as she picked up an egg and turned it over in her hand. “But don’t you think Mommy wanted to see pretty eggs?” She turned to look at him.
Johnny shrugged. He and his brother never made pretty eggs. They always had ugliest egg contests and his mother never complained. He hadn’t thought about Joanne at all.
The little girl turned back to her pile. “I did make one for her that’s just pink,” she said looking through them. Finding what she wanted she pulled it out. She lovingly held the egg in her hand for Johnny to see. ‘I love Mommy’ was written on it and it was dyed bright pink.
“That’s beautiful, Jen. I’m sure your mommy will love it,” he told her.
She carefully placed the egg on the top of the pile so that the words were facing up. “Maybe you can dye eggs with us again next year,” she said hopefully.
Thoughts of Joanne filled his head as he looked at how ugly the eggs really were. That’s highly doubtful, Jen, he thought, but he smiled and kept that thought to himself.
Johnny had both the kids in bed and had read them a story by the time that Roy and Joanne arrived home at 9:30. The kids were sound asleep and so he didn’t hang around long. Roy and Joanne thanked him again for allowing them to have their night out together and saw him to the door.
Both were glad for once that he had the kids in bed. Most times they’d still be up. This was good news for the Desoto’s as they decided to continue the date in the bedroom.
Saturday 7:30 am
Joanne DeSoto dragged herself out of bed. She was tired but she had a lot to do and wanted to get a head start. Much had gotten put off yesterday because of the night out that they had indulged in. But it was well worth it, she thought with a smile. And it was well worth the late night they’d had after dinner too!
She pulled on her robe and shuffled from the room and she could hear Roy begin moving around as well. She headed right for the bathroom to brush her teeth and use the toilet before heading downstairs to put the coffee on.
She tried to stifle a yawn as she entered the kitchen and began the task of making coffee. She knew Roy would be down soon and that was the first thing he’d want. To be honest, she wasn’t much of a coffee drinker but she sure could use a cup this morning. While the coffee was percolating, she opened the refrigerator to grab some cream for her coffee because as much as she’d tried she just couldn’t drink it black. She pulled up short at the sight of the ugliest Easter eggs she’d ever seen. She just stared at them
And she was still standing there with the refrigerator door open staring at the ugly eggs when Roy walked into the kitchen.
“You trying to cool the whole house, Jo,” he joked using one of her own lines.
Slowly she turned her head to look at him but didn’t move. “You need to see this, Roy,” she instructed.
“See what,” he asked walking up to peer inside.
He let out a low whistle when he saw what she was referring to.
“How can I put those eggs out? They’re the ugliest things I’ve ever seen,” she exclaimed.
Roy tried to stifle a laugh. “Should I call Johnny now and tell him not to come to dinner or should I wait until later,” he asked in mock seriousness.
“Roy! That’s not funny. They’re …they’re…” It was on the tip of her tongue to say hideous when she caught movement to the side.
It was Chris. “Didja see the eggs, Dad,” he asked looking at Roy with delight. “We had the best time.”
Roy nodded his head. “We saw them, Sport. They’re out of this world,” he agreed.
“Did you like them, Mom,” he asked seriously looking to his mother.
Before she had a chance to answer, Jennifer skipped in and immediately squeezed in between her parents and pulled out her pink egg. She handed it to Joanne. “I made this one just for you,” she said happily. “Do you like it?”
Joanne looked at both of her children’s faces. With the exception of the pink egg, they were the most hideous eggs she’d ever seen but as the kids stood there patiently waiting with anticipation she could tell how much fun they’d had making them and she looked down at her pink egg. “I love it, Jennifer. Thank you. And Chris, yes, I like them very much. You guys must have had a blast,” she commented.
Both kids began talking at once about their ugliest egg contest and telling funny stories about dyeing them and Joanne listened as she began making breakfast. Roy poured two cups of coffee when it was finally done and handed one to his wife.
“So does Johnny get to help dye eggs next year,” he asked as he raised one eyebrow.
She looked at the kids and shrugged her shoulders. “If he wants,” she replied.
Roy looked at his wife in disbelief. “Really?”
“Somehow I think we’re going to be having an ugliest egg contest every year from now on,” she sighed. “But remind me to thank John Gage when he gets here, would you?”
Roy smiled knowing Joanne would put his friend on the hot seat for a while. They were, without a doubt, the ugliest eggs.
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