Eric and Lisa married young, the summer after their high school graduation. I met them through Michael when we were dating. As couples, we spent a lot of time together, dining on prime rib and visiting strip clubs.
Eric and Lisa decided she would go to graduate school. Once she finished her degree and started working, they celebrated by getting a rabbit. They named him Edward Joseph Munson.
Michael and I met Edward after a night at the bar. We sat in a circle on Eric and Lisa’s living room floor while Lisa took the rabbit out of the cage. I saw the bedding. The litter box. The nibbled carrots. Maybe a rabbit could make a good pet, I thought. Edward’s flat affect said otherwise. I would have preferred a wiggling collie puppy.
Lisa told us about Edward’s cute little noises. She told us about his witty personality. She was in love. I held the rabbit against my white sweater tank, ignoring the fur he left behind. He crawled up to my shoulder, and I, being drunk enough, blew off his hind feet pinching my skin and let him sit there a while.
When I set Edward back on the carpet, he hopped a few steps away from Lisa.
Lisa said, “Edward, come back here.” He hopped again in the opposite direction. Lisa got impatient. Her voice turned stern. She said, “Edward Joseph Munson. Get back here.” When he still didn’t comply, Lisa crawled over to him and picked him up. She verbally reprimanded him for not listening and put him back in his cage.
I laughed—to shake off some of the tension of witnessing a rabbit be disciplined, a first for me. The next morning, I discovered another first: a yellow stain on the back of my tank. Damn rabbit.
In the days of Michael and me planning our wedding and buying our house, Eric and Lisa moved into a larger home, one that was in a town twenty minutes away. We didn’t see them as much. When we did visit, we would meet more rabbits.
They said they bought Edward another friend, since they worried Edward was lonely for companionship. Then they got another rabbit, because they liked her dark, long ears. Then they worried that rabbit might feel like a third wheel, so they purchased a companion for her. Then they learned of two more rabbits needing a home, so they took those two in as well. Six rabbits. They called themselves parents to six rabbits.
All the bunnies had three names. And their names were included on Eric and Lisa’s Christmas cards.
The bunnies had their own room in the basement of Eric and Lisa’s new home. Eric built a three-story, six-foot tall cage as wide as a living room rug. The cage had doors on each level and ramps so the rabbits could move from floor to floor to visit each other. I found the whole setup overwhelming. I had one cat, one litter box, and I thought that enough work.
Soon after they had settled into their home around their tenth wedding anniversary, they had their first of three kids, a little boy, Jonathan. That next summer, Michael and I met Eric and Lisa at a local festival and visited with them at a picnic table under a late afternoon sun. I was very pregnant and hot and hungry. I had a pulled pork sandwich and fries to gobble and planned to eat before we did anything else.
Jonathan crawled about the table, getting his little hands into everything, including the ketchup I had poured into a paper basket for my fries. I was annoyed.
Lisa went from talking calmly to extreme and stern. She yanked Jonathan from the tabletop and said, “Jonathan Eric Munson, stop that.”
At that time, with my belly big and ready to burst baby, I did not yet know that parents are not in complete control of their offspring. I was annoyed, mainly because the kid was distracting me from my goal to eat. I was glad to have him away from my plate, unable to splatter any more ketchup on my shirt. Glad Lisa took action—even if it tipped the scale a bit.
But I wanted to laugh—and I wished we were good enough friends that I could have—to shake off the tension of this kid being disciplined, to shake off the déjà vu of a child being trained like a rabbit.
Inspired by the letter R in the A to Z Challenge for the month of April.
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