Summer of 2006, my boyfriend and I lived next door to a now moderately successful indie musician. For the story’s sake, let’s call her Sarah McLachlan. Through a random act of craigslist, Sarah McLachlan was roommates with a friend of mine whom I’ll call Mary. Mary had been my random craigslist roommate for one month the summer before in the building right across the street, and although her brain chemistry caused her to experience the world in certain borderline non-functional ways at times, she had a creativity and a sweetness to her that made me want to stay her friend. (In fairness, I should mention that she seems to be doing a lot better since moving out of New York.)
Mary and Sarah McLachlan didn’t get along. Mary referred to her roommates as “the wicked witches,” and to Sarah McLachlan’s music in somewhat unkind terms, as well. (Some of them were funny, but I don’t think I can publish them without giving her identity away.) Once, Sarah McLachlan called the cops on her after a fight over the wicked witches’ pile of dirty dishes, claiming Mary had waved a knife in her face, which, in turn, caused Mary to be kept in the hospital overnight for “observation.” I’m not saying Mary wasn’t crazy, but she was far from the kind of crazy that needs to have sharp objects taken away. Maybe she had been holding a knife, but only to demonstrate how dirty it was. At least, that’s what I think happened.
Based only on what I’d heard of her band’s music, I thought Sarah McLachlan was pretty cool, so I tried to stay neutral in these skirmishes. However, after listening to Mary air her grievances time and again, I’ll admit that a bit of anti-Sarah bias may have begun to sneak into my subconscious thought processes. This is important to help explain the dumb thing I did later.
Sarah McLachlan had a pet rabbit named Mr. Buns that she’d found hopping down the street one day and somehow managed to capture. I say “somehow” because he was not the nicest critter. He was a tough, street-rabbit from Bushwick, and he’d scratch your eyes out before he’d let you pick him up and pet him. The only exception was when he was feeling horny. At those times, he’d pretend he was being nice, then grasp your nearest appendage with both front paws and hump you with ferocious intensity. This made me glad a rabbit isn’t big enough to actually rape a human, because he seemed like he could’ve been the reincarnation of some hardened, sociopathic sex criminal.
Mary claimed Sarah McLachlan was a terrible pet owner, leaving for months on tour and blasting loud music in Mr. Buns’ sensitive little ears. Sarah did not seem terribly enthused to own this surly little guy, herself, and responded positively when I suggested he be deported to live with my friends in Connecticut, who already had a room in their house devoted to rabbits and seemed to have uncommon powers of communication with small, stupid animals. (Note: “responded positively” =/= “said yes.”)
So Sarah McLachlan was away again, and my boyfriend and I were taking care of Mr. Buns for her. During this time, we threw a Fourth Of July party, which our Connecticut friends attended. Drunk on blueberry mojitos, I told Roland and Jane that there was a rabbit who might be in need of a home. Might.
“Aw, can we see him?”
“Sure!” I said, and took them to the apartment next door. “There he is.”
Before I knew what was happening, Roland had scooped Mr. Buns into his giant, tattooed biceps and held him to his breast like a mother cupping a newborn infant. Mr. Buns didn’t struggle, which might have meant he liked him, or maybe just that he was aware Roland was capable of crushing him in one meaty paw. Game recognize game.
A crucial bit of dialogue must have followed, but I can’t remember it. What did I say to them that implied, without meaning to, that it was cool to put Mr. Buns in their car and drive away? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t “it’s cool to put Mr. Buns in your car and drive away,” but I obviously didn’t try very hard to stop them. Maybe it was my vague anti-Sarah bias. Or maybe I was too focused on convincing my boyfriend to not leave me (an ultimately unsuccessful endeavor to which I devoted entirely too much of that summer) to try to get anyone else to not do something at that time. Other stories from this approximate period suggest I had a puzzlingly difficult time saying “no” to anything, even things I knew for sure I did not want to do/have done to me, but for some reason felt compelled to allow anyway.
Things I Wish I’d said:
“Mr. Buns belongs to Sarah McLachlan.”
“These aren’t the buns you’re looking for.”
“He will molest all of your other rabbits.”
“Put down the demon and slowly back away.”
Things I actually said:
The happy pair of new parents got in their car with Mr. Buns and took him to their rabbit room in Connecticut, where I am told he still lives and is doing well. Although neutering failed to deactivate his humping mechanism and he’s not allowed direct contact with others, he has a stuffed toy he can brutalize at will, which often needs replacing. He can also smell his peers through the bars of his cell and dream of all the terrible things he did in past lives to get reincarnated as a stray pet store rabbit.
The story ends less well for us. About a week later, my boyfriend got a call from Sarah McLachlan, which I could hear because he had a loud cell phone. Apparently, she’d come home to the alarming sight of an empty cage and had no idea where her pet had gone. “Where’s my bunny?” she kept asking. “Where’s my bunny?”
My boyfriend stammeringly explained that he’d “gone to live with Jamie’s friends in Connecticut,” which hopefully did not sound like a euphemism for “we’ve eaten him.” She was understandably pissed. Then again, it’s not like Connecticut is that far. She could have demanded Mr. Buns’ immediate return, had she been so inclined. She did not.
Still, I felt terrible about the whole thing. Lacking social skills, I handled it not by apologizing, but avoiding eye contact in the halls and at music festivals we were both at and pretending I didn’t know her. It’s not like we were really friends to begin with, but I can’t stand knowing I can’t make friends with someone, should I want to. I also feared my transgressions against her might ruin her music for me, and they kind of have. To this day, whenever a song by Sarah McLachlan comes on my iTunes, I mostly skip it, provided there’s no one around I’d need to explain why to. Like my HSV-2 antibodies, my Sarah McLachlan-less home stands as an invisible testament to all the dumb things I did as a developing human. If you’re reading this, Sarah, I was wrong and I’m sorry. Be glad you were never as weak a girl as me.