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Agnieszka Tennant


The Rabbit Habit

Beyond bunny kitsch.

In an interview with Ann Coulter in the June issue of Vanity Fair, glitterati journalist George Wayne concludes his banter with the long-legged ogress by suggesting that she get herself a rabbit. Too bad he does not mean the animal.

In a country whose sex shops teem with bunny-shaped toys; whose porn devourers look for the rabbit icon; whose fashion designers dress models in dyed rabbit-fur ponchos and angora sweaters; whose rabbit rescue shelters are flooded with new animals a month or two after Easter, when they are found wandering suburban parks; where women at baby showers fawn over bunny-themed nursery sheets and touch-me books for toddlers made with rabbit fur; where sophisticated restaurants serve lapin and conejo stews—in spite of all these rabbits everywhere, we who live here know next to nothing about the lagomorpha.

So we—most of us—miss out.

Few have had the thrill of watching a bunny do the binky—a supreme tribute from rabbits to their creator, as if to shout, with their whole bodies, "God, life is good!" Have you ever witnessed this spur-of-the-moment dance, in which rabbits leap up, spin in mid-air, and land facing the opposite direction—sometimes several times in a row? And how many of us have received the soft little kisses with which these affectionate and social creatures are happy to groom, comfort, and even, if necessary (as is often in my case), wake up their human companions?

Have you seen the way rabbits, upon hearing the soothing voice of their owner, forget the sixth sense inside their heads that warns them, "Be alert, you are, first and foremost, a prey animal! Don't tease hawks with your white belly!"—and flop over on their side, rolling back their eyes in bliss? How many Playboy bunnies have heard the chatter of a euphoric rabbit's teeth? Who among the lapin stew epicures has put a rabbit in a trance—his belly up and his lip twitching as he frolics in bunny dreamland, all trust and no fear? And how many touch-starved ...

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