Education Matters: Living together in perfect harmony

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

I told this story 10 years ago in this space and thought it might play well again a few days before Easter.

I’d like to tell the story of two cute little bunnies. I was reminded of them recently while strolling through the Glendale Galleria, watching a young family pausing in front of the pet store where a bunny bin is strategically placed to entice little children and entrap parents connected to children. Years ago I had been nudged to this place to listen to the deepest yearnings of my deprived children.

After months of “Oh pleeeease daddy,” I made the mistake of offering what seemed at the time to be impossible conditions: “Show me straight A’s on your next report cards and you’ll get your bunnies.”

The following June, my overachieving daughters dragged me to the pet store to collect their furry rewards. Huddled together in the corner of the bin were a pair of dwarf bunnies, one black and one white. Both were indescribably cute, and they were given indescribably cute names: Ebunny and Ivory.

When the pair grew to maturity, they were joined in matrimony in our backyard. My daughters fashioned a veil and a little top hat, dropped some flower petals on the lawn and hummed the wedding march. After their little noses were pressed together (to make it official), carrot cake was served, and the newlyweds were left alone in their love hutch.

After four months of being fruitful and multiplying, Ebunny appeared to need an intermission, so we kept Ivory in another corner of the yard. We pretty much flooded the market with dwarf bunnies, so it made sense to shut down the factory for awhile.

Here’s where the story gets a little strange. About month and a half after their separation, Ebunny started making a nest, which was the usual signal that there’d be a few more hoppin’ down the bunny trail soon.

“No chance, can’t be. There’s no way those bunnies got together,” I said. “Not unless Ivory slipped out of his cage and into hers and then back into his, working the latches at both ends.”

My wife, being an incurable romantic, was perfectly willing to accept that scenario.

“She’s pregnant, I just know it,” she said.

My daughters agreed, always ready to welcome more bunnies into the fold.

“OK, just what makes you think it’s the real thing and not some force of habit,” I asked. “She’s just forgotten what it’s like to go a month without birth.”

My wife looked me right in the eye and said, “We women know about these things,” and my daughters nodded in unison.

“OK, OK, we’ll see,” I said condescendingly. “We’ll see.”

Sunday, three days later at 7 a.m., there came a chorus of female voices in my sleeping ear.

“Oh daaaaaaaaady. Guess what happened?”

I went out to see and, wonder of wonders, unto us was born a miracle bunny. I was dumbfounded. I knew for a fact that Ivory had spent the last 40 days or so in absolute deprivation. One look at his sour face and you could tell. We men know about these things.

So where did Junior come from? Someone suggested that it was a leftover from the last crop. My theory involved a new concept in genetics: time-release sperm. The ladies of the house persisted in their notion of “Love knows no barriers.”

The question was never resolved.

We did keep them apart though for the next three months, and Ivory proceeded to develop a spectacularly ugly skin condition. Huge welts about the size of small tomatoes appeared on his neck and stomach. It’s not easy for a bunny to be physically repulsive, but Ivory was all of that and with a disposition to match.

He didn’t hop much anymore. He just waffled across the lawn, dragging a paw occasionally with not an ounce of cuteness left in him. His whiskers drooped noticeably. Gone were those perfect little bee bees that bunnies drop every three feet. (With a broken heart, who can digest properly?)

Thinking contagious disease all the way, my wife insisted on very separate quarters for Ivory — like under the house. This only made his condition worse. One night I went out to see him, and, thinking as I did how much older and more pathetic he was looking by the hour, figured it was curtains any day now.

As I reached down to pet him with my rubber gloves on (I was taking no chances with a condition that ugly), he looked up at me with mucous, or as I later reported to my wife, tears, in his eyes, and I suddenly understood his problem. He was lovesick. It was as plain as the lumps on his neck.

But I was alone in my diagnosis.

I therefore took it upon myself to prescribe a cure. In the twilight of a mid-summer evening the pair were reunited. In the half darkness, I figured, Ivory’s chances could only be improved. As it happened, Ebunny still cared for Ivory, bumps and all. After some very brief nose-to-nose preliminaries, the two of them wrestled around the yard and into the darkness of the garage.

Up to this time I had believed bunnies to be entirely mute. Not a peep, not a squeak, not even a grunt had I heard from any of them — ever. You might imagine my surprise then, when there arose from the garage such a squealing and shrieking, accompanied by falling garden tools and nonstop commotion. (I had read in our “All About Bunnies” book that in such moments the buck will either squeal continuously or go about his business quietly and then simply fall to the side of the doe, limp and lifeless. Ivory was a squealer.)

The thing was done. We put them back together and very gradually, Ivory lost his lumps. I was applauded for my insight but only until the next generation arrived. We were back in business again, but this litter would be the last. The parents were taken to the vet and, as I explained mathematically to my oldest daughter, had their multipliers subtracted. (“Getting fixed” made no sense to her.)

The two lovers kept to themselves in their twilight years. For my family, they were exceptionally good pets and a favorite topic of conversation. For each other they were devoted companions, friends and lovers to the end.

DAN KIMBER taught in the Glendale Unified School District for more than 30 years. He may be reached at DKimb8@sbcglobal.net.
 
 

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