Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why a bunny?

In my first two posts, I explained why I choose a "tiny" avatar to represent me in Second Life (SL). Among the personal questions I'm asked in SL, "Why a tiny?" is a common one. Another common question is: "Why a bunny?"

I never gave much thought to rabbits one way or another until the mid-70's.

When I moved to Minnesota in 1975, I had brought a pet gerbil with me. This lone gerbil was the last of a roomful of gerbils I accumulated in Chicago after making the mistake of buying a companion for Taco -- my first gerbil -- because I thought he was lonely. It wasn't long before gerbils begat gerbils begat gerbils. At wit's end, I put a free classified ad in the Chicago Reader: "FREE GERBILS!" As soon as it was published, I started getting calls. Some callers wanted a pet or a small animal for a classroom, but most them asked, "What's a gerbil?" In the end, I kept just one and took him with me when I moved in with friends in South Minneapolis.

One time, when I walked to the nearest pet store for the sole purpose of buying gerbil food, they had baby bunnies there, and frankly, I am a sucker for little furry animals. The bunnies were so small that one could easily sit in the palm of my hand. Resistance was futile. By the time I left the store, I was carrying a tiny bunny, a cage, a bag of litter, a water bottle, a food dish, Purina Rabbit Chow (seriously!), a book about caring for rabbits, and, of course, gerbil food. My hosts, while not exactly pleased, were tolerant, which was good, because after reading the book cover to cover, I embarked on the box-training of the bunny. I named her Joni.

Joni thrived. She took to the box like housecat, and she grew (and grew and grew). And I had a great idea: I should take her down to Lake of the Isles on a leash. What a fantastic way to meet girls! As it happened, I was wrong. I didn't meet any girls at all as a result of having a rabbit on a leash -- but I did meet a lot of little kids.

When British author Richard Adams published his rabbit novel Watership Down, I devoured it. Then I ordered The Private Life of the Rabbit, which Adams had cited as his authority for all his portrayals of rabbit life and behavior. I was hooked.

Eventually, I moved into my own apartment near the University of Minnesota. I situated Joni's box in an appropriate location and gave her run of the place. When I'd come home from classes, as soon as I entered Joni would come running out from wherever she was resting and run in little circles around my feet, making clicking sounds. And she was quite jealous, butting in and making a fuss if I had "company."

Joni moved down to Chicago with me after I finished school. Over the years since then, I've had two other pet rabbits, each of them given to me by parents whose children were no longer interested in caring for them. And while I no longer have a pet rabbit -- I have a cat named Lucy -- I will always have a special place in my heart for bunnies. Moreover, I have a whole collection of bunny-related objects made of wood, jade, china, crystal, mammoth ivory, and more. So it was natural that when choosing among tiny animals for an avatar, I would gravitate toward a rabbit.

That's the long explanation. The short explanation is this: I am convinced that if my soul had a physical appearance, this is what it would look like.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love this mediation on bunnies. Thanks for a beautifully written piece.