Things got a little serious in the last sketch, which sometimes happens when you begin to question everything you learned growing up.
But now that I’m back in Haarlem in my beloved Slachthuisbuurt, it’s time to get back to the topics that really matter—animals. I have, of course, discussed some of our local fauna already. But piggies Henk and Hilda are not alone.
Just this morning, we were once again awakened by an urban rooster that we think lives just a few doors down. Playing to type, he crows at sunrise, which, about a month ago, was 4:30 am.
“I’m going to throttle that thing,” said my normally peace-loving wife.
“That’s not vegan,” I shot back, mimicking my daughter.
“But it would be self-care.”
I can’t argue with that, so I get up to make the coffee.
Most of the houses in our neighborhood are two story, but ours has a slightly incongruous third floor that was added by the previous owner. When we moved in, my daughter said, “Oh, I have my own floor!” Not so fast, I said, and snagged one of the rooms as my “office.” I could lie and say this is where I do all of my writing and editing. But it’s really where I hang out when I want to take a trip to Bunny Paradise.
Directly behind us, there is an entire garden devoted to the care and feeding of two giant rabbits. Most mornings, they are out and about. This is why, despite the fact that the tension rods and Ikea curtains have been up there for months, I can’t bring myself to open the packages and hang them. I like looking out across the rooftops, and I especially enjoy—or at least I used to—the revealing glimpses into Bunny Paradise.
I should explain. Around here, space is at a premium and people live right on top of each other. I mean that literally. Your business is your neighbor’s too, and I have come to learn you have to accept that. At least that’s what I tell myself when I’m spying on the bunnies from the third floor, “Rear Window” style.
These rabbits have a cage so big that it probably deserves its own house number and property tax assessment. All around it are colorful rabbit runs made out of cloth and wire. There’s usually a huge bowl of water out there, not to mention numerous carrots, some celery, and a whole head of lettuce. Not bad for prey, right?
The rabbits generally just sit around, quietly munching on their lettuce all morning, with only themselves and their rabbity deep thoughts for company. But just a few weeks ago, during a spell of hot weather in which the temperatures almost hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit, I finally saw their landlords/owners/servants for the first time in all my weeks of bunny stalking.
They came out in bathrobes, and sat down in a pair of rusty lawn chairs. Without saying anything to the rabbits, or to each other, they both began chain smoking, reading magazines, and generally giving off a “it’s too hot to care about anything vibe.”
After about 15 minutes, she reached down and crushed the cigarette out on one of the patio bricks. As she did so, her robe came loose, and suddenly, it was abundantly clear that when I say she was in her bathrobe, I mean only her bathrobe.
I told you this was some real Rear Window stuff, right?
Cigarette and my nosy innocence both now thoroughly destroyed, she hauled every last ounce of herself out of chair. Then he did too, stretching just enough so that his robe began to ride just a little too far up his legs. It turns out that he had gone commando as well.
She poured the rest of her coffee on a nearby geranium. As if the poor flower hadn’t taken enough abuse, he then hacked up a huge glob of smoker phlegm and spit it on the petals. Take that, you worthless, ungrateful geranium!
Then they cinched up their robes and walked inside, leaving the door open, presumably for the bunnies, or anyone else in the neighborhood for that matter, to follow if they wanted. The rabbits chose, wisely I feel, to remain on the patio, despite the approaching rain and the circle of cats staring longingly at them from the rooftops all around.
I opened up those Ikea curtains, and got to work.
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