We had very few pets growing up. Due to my mom’s, Lawnwhisperer’s, and Jimmy’s (Baby Jesus) serious phobia of canines we knew we would never have a dog. We did have a few cats though. There was Gray, named because she was gray, and later we had Sears and Roebuck, named so because they were found at Sears and Roebuck, where my dad worked. And at one point, when I was about 10 or so, the Easter bunny, left us a rabbit.
I do not remember the rabbit’s name because we did not have him for very long. We kept the rabbit in the back yard in a cage made of wood and chicken wire and screens. We would go out back everyday to look at the rabbit and try to feed it carrots and admire the Raisinets it left behind. The rest of the neighborhood kids liked the rabbit as well. Especially the girl that lived behind us, catty- corner, her name was April.
Most of us did not like April. Most of the girls that grew up in our boy-dominated neighborhood (granted my 7 brothers, 1sister and I made up half the neighborhood) were either tomboys and could hang out with us, or they kept their distance. Not April. She was always trying to do what we were doing. The problem was she was all girly girl. She wore frilly dresses and white stockings and had curly hair and she was pretty snobby. We always compared her to Nellie from Little House on the Prairie.
April loved the rabbit in our backyard. She would often climb the fence that separated our yards and take the rabbit out of its cage and play with it and pet it. She probably gave it more attention than my entire family ever did. We would catch her feeding our rabbit and we would go out back and yell at her in that nanny-nanny-pooh-pooh way.
“Why don’t you get your own rabbit?”
“Don’t give the rabbit girl germs.”
“If you love our rabbit so much why don’t you marry it?”
She always ended up leaving in a huff or tears.
“I’m telling.” April would whine as she scurried over the fence being careful not to get rust stains on her perfectly pleated plaid dress.
One day, and I am sketchy on the details, we came home to find the door to the rabbit cage open with no rabbit in sight. We of course went and told our parent’s that the rabbit was gone. My parent’s said that someone must have left the door open and that the rabbit escaped. We knew it was no of us. It had to be April. Our dislike for the girl intensified. She kidnapped our rabbit. My parent’s talked us out of forming a mob, with wiffle-ball bats and sticks, and marching over to her house and demanding the rabbit back. They assured us that the rabbit had probably escaped due to our own fault.
Deep down we knew it was not one of us that let the rabbit out. I believe one of us confronted April and she denied the kidnapping as well as mistakenly letting the rabbit go. I think she was more upset than us that the rabbit was gone, but we did not let that fool us. It was her fault. We knew it.
We blamed her for years and eventually the rabbit incident became a joke in our house. Even as adults we would talk about how April was responsible for the rabbit’s disappearance. It was only just a few years ago that my father told me the true story of the rabbit.
He came home one day and found the rabbit dead. Stiff as a board, in it’s cage. In an effort to “protect” the younger kids from seeing a dead rabbit, or feeling guilty over the death of the pet, he quickly disposed of the carcass and left the cage door open. Instead of telling us that the rabbit died he would let us believe that rabbit just escaped. A rabbit that was roaming free in the wild of suburbia was easier for us kids to grasp than death would be. He did not realize that we would blame April.
When I asked him how come he let us blame April for so long and his response was, “You guys blamed April. And I figured as long as the blame was going in her direction I was off the hook.”
My dad’s birthday is this weekend. The man who came up with “Poop and Boogies”
Happy Birthday Dad.