The Vanderlip Experience | Hatching the Mysterious Egg

Part three of four part series: In the previous episode the members of our group—Ron, Bob, Scott, and myself—had spent the night on the fringes of the Vanderlip Estate at Portuguese Bend, in Palos Verdes. As a result I had obtained a rare souvenir, a huge egg that I intended to hatch…

Torrance, California | 1970’s

We ate breakfast at Norm’s, on Hawthorne Boulevard, down the hill from last night’s escapade at the Vanderlip estate. I had wrapped the prized egg in my L.A. Dodgers windbreaker. It sat next to me at the table nook, as did Ron, Bob and Scott. We were in fine spirits having endured the overnight stay at the Vanderlip estate. It hadn’t been a brush with death, but we could’ve had a lot of explaining to do if the cops had shown up. And what if the Vanderlips’ Dobermans had smelled our scent?

<feature photo courtesy

“So, what are you going to do with the giant condor egg?” Scott said, as he tackled his plate of pancakes.

“It’s a peacock egg,” Bob said.

“I’m pretty sure it’s an ostrich egg,” Ron said with authority.

Last night Ron claimed it was a dinosaur egg. “We’ll find out what kind of bird it is after I hatch it,” I said, and let that sink in with my cohorts.

“How do you plan to do that?’ Ron said. “Are you gonna sleep on it tonight like some fussy hen?”

That brought chuckles around the table. When they subsided I said, “I plan to expedite the hatching process. I’ll put it in my mom’s oven on the lowest temperature setting. I’ll cover the egg with something to simulate the hen.”

“I bet your mom won’t buy that idea,” Bob said.

“My parents are visiting in San Fernando Valley all day,” I said with an air of confidence that belied my self-doubt. “They won’t return until late tonight. I’ll have a ‘mission accomplished’ by then.”

“Mission Impossible,” Bob said, referring to the TV series. By their amused expressions none of my cohorts were confident in my egg-hatching plan. “What?”

When the waitress frowned at their laughter it quickly subsided. “Is this your crazy idea or did you read about it in Mad Magazine?” Ron said.

“Hey, the egg doesn’t know what’s going on in the outside world,” I said in my defense. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a hen’s bottom, a warm pillow, or a temperature controlled oven. Besides, in the future all eggs will be hatched in ovens.”

That quieted my detractors.

“Our class report for Miss Clark’s English class is due next Friday,” Bob said. “I guess we shouldn’t add any of last night’s Vanderlip experience to the report, huh?”

“Why not?” Scott said. “Miss Clark will see us in a new light. We’ll be the class heroes.”

Ron chuckled. “Or the class clowns.”

“Maybe there’s a way we can surreptitiously add our adventure to the report,” I said.

“Yeah, surreptitiously,” Ron said, eyes wide open. “Getting fancy with our words, huh?”

“What’s it mean?” Bob said, not wanting to be left out in left field.

“Surreptitious is an act done by stealth.” I captured all eyes. “We could report truthfully that recent unnamed individuals visited the Vanderlip Estate… ”

“You know Miss Clark will ask who the unnamed individuals are,” Bob said.

“We state that we have promised the individuals anonymity,” I replied triumphantly. “You know, like reporters promise anonymity to their sources.”

Scott cackled, causing several customers to gaze in our direction. Our waitress gave us ‘last warning’ looks. “First surreptitiousand now anonymity,” Scott said in a lowered voice. “I gonna need a dictionary. But, yeah, I think you’ve got a good idea there. Miss Clark wouldn’t dare question reputable sources. It would be downright unethical.”

Scott’s statement somehow caused the group to clang our coffee cups together. As a result I got tasked (along with Scott) to surreptitiously add last night’s Vanderlip adventure to Miss Clark’s class report. I didn’t complain, but hatching the egg of unknown origin remained my primary responsibility.

“Well, if nobody has another important word to add to the conversation, I’ve got a golfing engagement this morning,” Ron said

“Why didn’t you invite me?” the rest of us said simultaneously. I raised my hand for the check, causing our waitress to let out a relieved sigh.

The Great Egg Hatching Experiment

I thought the egg hatching experience would have everyone present. But, Ron left us to go play golf and Bob suddenly had the urge to go bodysurfing at Redondo Beach. That left Scott and me to perform the scientific experiment. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed in the turn out. I equated this in importance to a Muhammad Ali fight, an L.A. Laker versus Boston Celtics playoff game, or at least to a visit to Shakey’s Pizza Parlor.

Scott and I agreed we had to be extra careful about the temperature. I turned the oven on to minimum, about 180 degrees Fahrenheit. After thirty minutes it had reached the temperature. I double-checked using mom’s roaster thermometer. I had an idea, to place the egg inside one of mom’s turkey roaster bags. I also decided to leave the oven door partially open, which brought the temperature down to below 150 degrees Fahrenheit. We agreed (without any scientific data) that this would be an optimal temperature to hatch the egg. I turned on the oven’s internal lamp so we could monitor the process.

And then we waited and waited…

(To be continued)


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