Before Debra Wood worked for the Arkansas Foodbank, and the Laman Library before that, and owned the ArtSpace Gallery before that, she worked in the Clinton White House. She handled student correspondence for the president.
So her ears perked up recently when, lunching at a local restaurant, she heard a little girl at a nearby table telling her mother about a trip to the Clinton Presidential Center she'd made with her grandmother. (The girl was surprisingly excited about her trip to a library to honor a president who was out of office before she was even born.) The little girl — maybe 7 or 8 — pulled out what looked like a baseball card but was a picture of Socks, the Clintons' famed cat, to show her mother. She said she wished she had a Buddy card, too.
Wood's thinking: "Wow, I probably have a Buddy card at home." That's because it was Wood's office that originally created the baseball cards, bearing pictures of the first family, the White House, Air Force One, the pets, etc. All had "stats" on the back, like how many rooms are in the White House and the fact that whatever plane the president is in is Air Force One, information like that.
So as Wood was wondering if she should try to find a Buddy card for the little girl, she heard the young lass pipe up again, this time about the White House Easter Bunny.
And Wood thought: "I AM the Easter Bunny!"
Yes, for seven years, Wood dressed up as one of three bunnies (mom, dad and baby bunny) for the famed Egg Roll on the White House lawn.
For a brief moment, Wood considered telling the little girl that she was the Easter Bunny and might have a Buddy card. But she reconsidered: "They would think I was nuts," Wood said. Fearing someone might summon the Butterfly Net Patrol to take her away, she let it go.
Wood recalled one Easter in particular when children from a school for the blind came to the Egg Roll. They were in a special section, and she, in bunny costume, had a military escort to guide her down a row of the children. "And they were all putting their little hands on me, to pat the bunny, and I was so emotional. They were so excited." Wood began to cry, but she couldn't wipe her eyes, because all she had were big bunny paws and no way to reach her eyes with them. The tears just kept rolling until she could go back in and take off the costume.
Some people have great stories to tell. And in Wood's case, they're true.
Speaking of great true stories, the issue you hold in your hands (unless you're perusing this in the digital ether, of course) is our annual LR Confidential issue, in which we give people total anonymity in exchange for the truth about their lives. This year, the story Yours Truly collected was that of a law enforcement officer who killed a suspect in the line of duty. While we couldn't say much of the "why" without revealing the officer's identity, suffice it to say that had this cop not pulled the trigger, there's a very good chance he and another officer would have been gravely wounded or in the ground.
When we were done, we told him what we've told others: The Observer has come to believe the line between order and anarchy is so thin that it might terrify most people if they knew just how thin. Holding back the darkness, however, are certain people who have made the decision to put away that ancient portion of all of us that tells a human being to turn and flee from death, grief, fire and blood: cops, defense attorneys, prosecutors, firefighters, doctors, nurses, soldiers, others. No, they don't deserve a pass just for doing that. It doesn't make them holy, or noble. But never let anybody convince you it isn't a sacrifice. To those folks, The Observer says: Thank you.