10 May 2011

Three Anecdotes about Bunnies

I was sitting on the square orange couch in Mundo Manila with a cup of tea in hand, absorbed in a JD Salinger short story, when a flash of bright green fur appeared in my peripheral vision. Intrigued, I wrenched my eyes from the pages that were once owned by a presumably British stranger (I had purchased the book for 3 pounds at a used bookshop in a grungy neighborhood of London two weeks prior), and marked my page with a tree leaf I had been carrying around. If I could expertly identify tree leaves, I would specify which type of leaf it was. The truth is, though, that I cannot.
My eyes scanned the bar until they focused on the source of the green fur: it was a stuffed animal, in the arms of an older, pierced woman. She was carrying around four other stuffed animals in her arms, and my heart surged with joy when she sat down directly across from me and ordered a beer. I didn't understand the Spanish phrases she was muttering to herself, but once she set the stuffed animals down, I realized she was not muttering to herself at all, but to a quivering live bunny that was sitting on her chest. I guess no one in Spain gives a fuck about bringing live animals into dining establishments, because the bartender brought her the copa de cerveza and said nothing. As the bunny-lady was settling in and rearranging the stuffed animals on her lap, I rearranged my limbs. My thighs were painfully stuck to the couch, and at the obnoxious squelching sound my legs made as I uncrossed them, the bunny-woman made startled eye contact with me. She noticed me for the first time. She appeared surprised, even, to see that someone was sitting so close to her. I offered a soft, "hola." She said nothing in return, but picked up one of the stuffed animals-- the green one-- and began to stroke the real bunny's fur with the green stuffed animal. I pretended to resume reading, while really I was stealing precious glances at what was happening across from me. She alternately took sips of beer and stroked the bunny and murmured more sweet nothings into its floppy ears. I received a petty text message and in the time it took to reply, the bunny woman had gone, silently and swiftly. I did not realize she had left until the bartender approached the couch and informed me, "That woman said you'd pay for her."

Change of scenery: The Malaga airport. Before boarding the flight to London, I spotted a man with a thin, braided beard that extended to his belly button. It looked like a rat tail, but extra long, and on the front of his face instead of the back of his neck. He was in a cowboy hat. I even pointed out to my friend, "That guy's beard is freaky deaky!" It was a comment in passing-- I thought no more of him until, since I seem to be weirdo-magnet, he plopped down in the seat next to mine on the plane. Fantastic. I could smell beer on his breath. Joining him was a jolly Irish man, also shitfaced, with a gold chain around his neck. (They met in the airport bar. They are both named John.) The braided beard guy and I said hello, per airplane etiquette, and had the conversation that happens one every plane ride about where you're going, and from where you came, and why. I thought I had done my airplane seat partner duty by being cordial but cold enough to make it very clear that I intended to nap, when he shoved his phone in front of my face and declared, "Look at my bunnies." On the screen was a photo of two bunnies laying on their stomachs in front of a television in what I assume was his living room. He looked at them fondly and said, almost in a whisper, as he ran his fingers down his long braided beard, "They're my dears." The jolly Irish man laughed uproariously.

Final change of scenery: Las Alpujarras. I had gone on what was supposed to be a hiking trip organized by my school, but due to torrential rain, no hiking was done. We did, however, do aerobics in the basement of a strange building. In the basement was a lone balloon hanging from the ceiling, and a tattered Happy Birthday banner. Regardless, we had a great meal provided to us at a restaurant in the pueblo, and one of the options for dinner was Conejo. (Rabbit.) I'm by no means a real vegetarian, and I probably won't ever be one because I have no self control and I really do like chicken, but eating a rodent, let alone what could very well be a household pet, was more than I could handle. Hence, I opted for Sea Bass. (And I am very happy I did so-- it was delicioso.) My more adventurous/carnivorous friend Natasha ordered Conejo, and what arrived on her plate was literally...a charred, skinned rabbit. It had a face. It had teeth. My program director, Miguel Angel, coached Natasha through the process of eating the rabbit. Miguel Angel chopped off the rabbit's head with a graceful movement of his knife, put the dismantled skull to his mouth, and slurped out the innards. "Ah, que rico!" he said, satisfied. I felt bile perk its head up and start to dance in my intestine. He tossed the bunny skull aside and the meal resumed.
A final word on bunny meat: my host mom served it to me the other day. It was not bad. There were no teeth. She also fed me blood sausage once.

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