One Easter morning I looked out my window and saw my parents attempting to kill the Easter Bunny. No, that was wrong, it looked as if they were trying to capture him and had him trapped by the rosemary bush. He was much smaller than the one giving out coupons at the Supermarket the day before -that Easter Bunny was super tall and was wearing a big pink hat. Our prisoner rabbit was puny in comparision. The bunny 's paws appeared to be empty of Easter baskets. He must have finished his rounds of egg and candy hiding. I hurried outside as I couldn’t wait to meet him up close and personal.
First, I made sure that there were chocolate eggs to be hunted. After a quick surveillance of the yard, I was satisfied to notice a number of brightly colored treats and toys. I would collect them when finished with my meeting with Mr.E Bunny.
My father was holding the struggling rabbit. I tried to touch the soft fur on this back but he was too wriggly. Placing the bunny in a high standing hutch that I hadn’t ever noticed before, my father told me that the Easter bunny was mine to keep. They had caught him just for me. They didn’t usually make that much of an effort.
Obviously they hadn’t trapped the face of commercial Easter just to give their daughter. They weren’t the kind of parents who would do anything to keep a childhood myth alive. My father never dressed as Santa and went up on the roof nor did either of my parents put on costumes at Halloween to give candy out.
The bunny was my Easter present and had escaped when my mother was trying to put in him in the cage before I got up. Of course the timing had been messed up when the rabbit got out and I had discovered them trying to get him back inside.
As I was only eight, I just thought that my parents had kidnapped the Easter Bunny all for me. I hoped there was a ready supply of replacement Easter Bunnies so that me and all the rest of the children would get their Easter treats next year.
I collected the colored eggs and immediately gave them to my mother. It looked good and self-sacrificing to give them to her but I had already developed a dislike for eggs. Some of the Peeps and jelly beans had dew, dirt and slugs on them and had to be thrown out but I still had a good haul.
After thinking long and hard for about 2 minutes, I renamed the Easter Bunny- Hoppy. Clearly, I didn’t just color outside the box, I thought outside it as well. Hoppy was fluffy white, with bits of brown color on his back, his whiskers and the bottom of his back feet.
One thing about Hoppy was that he wasn’t the most friendly or affectionate of silly rabbits. I guess all those appearances and being in the public eye had made him a bit shy and retiring.But I loved his indifference, it was familiar to me.
Hoppy had a pleasant life, chewing on lettuce leaves and carrots and dreaming of whatever it is bunnies dream of. Most certainly he didn’t miss the stress of getting out all those Easter baskets.
A python named Stuart was my brother’s pet and we were careful to make sure Stuart was secure in his cage when we’d let Hoppy out to get some exercise. Our cats seemed to ignore the rabbit as they had a very full sleeping schedule and couldn't be bothered with the big-eared one.
One thing about my family is that we have always been animal people. We always had a number of a number of different species living with us such as birds, fish, and lizzards. My mother admitted often that she preferred animals to people. She'd toss me off her lap if one of the cats wanted up.
Hoppy’s safe and protected world slowly started to crack. Kiddingly my brother threatened to feed him to his snake. He described it in scary detail and then laughed it off. But ultimately it would be too much work to make Hoppy, Stuart’s lunch. Stuart preferred mouse to lapin.
Then one of the cats tried to get at Hoppy while Hoppy was in his cage. Luckily he was unsuccessful. Hoppy’s life was no longer carefree. His world was getting dangerous and I was beginning to notice it too. I thought my parents would protect us both but it looked like their protection and attention was limited.
We lived on a very busy corner at the intersection of Richland and Curtner. While we had a fence and hedges around our house, it never seemed to keep the neighborhood animals out of the yard. There would be everything from squirrels to skunks to possums crawling through the hole in the gate. They could come in and our pets could get out.
Unfortunately one day Hoppy got out into the street and was immediately run over by a car. I was devastated. Hoppy was dead because we hadn’t protected him. It was if we had ordered a hit on the Easter Bunny.
Trying to make me feel better, my parents got me another rabbit.This one was named Fluffy and was just an ordinary rabbit, not an ex-celebrity. Hoping to not have the same fate meet Fluffy that had met Hoppy, my father reinforced the fence and only allowed Fluffy out on supervised visits. Sadly, they were not successful in their efforts. Fluffy somehow got out of his cage and made into the street and was smashed flat.
How was this happening to the most responsible of pet owners? Why was all this vehicular rabbit slaughter happening? When the third and last bunny went the way of the others, we were done. We never again had rabbits for pets. I also can honestly say I've never consumed rabbit either.
My world had become a scarier place. Safety seemed as fragile as an egg shell and my innocence had taken a number of hits.