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From the Bronx, or, at Least from Amherst. By KJ Hannah Greenberg.


Upon discovering that the shoot had led not to one or two, but to twenty YouTube segments, I shrieked loud enough to rouse Roger. It took much coaxing to return my lapin to my lap.

His shedding notwithstanding, Roger has been my best substitute for ordinary amity since sugar-free brownies. I can confide to him the entire array of things female while thinking nothing of the fact that I’m revealing goings on about which women ordinarily avoid drawing attention. Although my sweet typically answers me with a snort or a fart, I make do; fledged kids and a dead husband have left me needy of his soft fur and reliable heartbeat.

It’s not that I had trouble breaking up with my most recently acquired “brilliant” boyfriend or that I ached for too long for mature affection. There are hosts of men who specialize in “helping deprived widows.” Further true than not, I turn to my hare because I lack the necessary patience to play the titular “lady love” of middle age courtships. Chivalry becomes boorish quickly.

Last week, for instance, I informed my students that unoriginal proffers of commitment make for bad poetry and that their work would be graded accordingly. No one cares whether or not a couple stays together for forty years. It’s far more interesting to read about a finger stuck in a blender than about some man’s decades’-long adoration of a single set of tresses. In addition, I instructed my class, that a successful relationship, like sound writing, needs much reworking, ongoing salesmanship, and a willingness to embrace a certain level of madness. Since few folk reach that apex, verse that reflects such blather winds up not in broadcasts, but at the bottom of budgie cages.

Analogously, I’ve been pulling my orbits away from those of balding bachelors and of would-be adulterers as well as from makeup, wigs, and other personal artifices. Given my druthers, I would have worn shades to my photo shoot. As of late, self-fulfillment means being vetted as a piece of furniture so I can avoid fuss, go home quickly and write.

My preferences, however, were immaterial to my publicist. She insisted on lipstick, as well as on earrings, and made me glue on bonus lashes. Popping eyes, especially those wrought from nonprescription contact lens, she claimed, have become the rage and rage, she snarled, sells books.

In hindsight, it would have been easier for me to earn a living through selling old comics via local newspapers or by culling online jobs from The Chronicle of Higher Education. Trying to pass as a worldly writer proved far harder than did gaining tenure by dint of encouraging the advances of a department chair. If I had been willing to make due with massaging a human leg instead of with rubbing a rabbit’s foot, I could have circumvented the trauma of contemporary wardrobing.

Yet, my passion to become an author overwhelmed my common sense to the extent that I was left burdened with an agent with small patience for midlife mitosis. My gal, the one who, during the hours before my shoot, had exhausted herself carrying and catching the soapy children used in a dog food commercial, had given no residual credence to my relaxed frumpy style. Despite the fact that I’m far from fatigued by my “wild woman/earth mama ways,” I was unable to argue her into allowing me to be photographed as a hedgehog in heat. She wanted no part of my weightlifting gloves or soiled sweatband and did not agree that a fifty-five year-old’s flushed cheeks could be sexy.

Consequently, I was poofed, polished and nearly puking from powder before the camera crew even arrived. Whereas my advisor did not force me to I reveal those body parts I ordinarily keep private, she made sure that I was duct taped or upholstered as needed.

It seems that consumers, especially readers, are incapable of thinking of human physicality as a bridge that spans childhood to the golden years. As a result, media spinners, mine included, insist we oldies morph into teenagers and that young heroes get shaved, shorn and costumed as children before allowing any of us to deign to grace a single book jacket.

It’s of little wonder that shortly after I finished with all of that pomp and posture, I found myself transporting Roger to his vet. Not only is my coney as empathic of a bunny as ever existed, but it is likewise true that I stroked him a bit extra for six months thereafter.

Our animal doc reassured me that a daily tab of Prozac and an ounce of gin, chased with tomato juice, would quiet my rabbit. Fortunately, my familiar didn’t need to have anything administered; it was my task, alone, not to squeeze so often or so tightly.

Prescription faithfully administered, I now giggle in my sleep. To boot, Roger’s no longer shedding copious amounts or hopping around in circles. It’s a pity that the veterinarian is married with children; his tummy pooches out only a little and I imagine that his blue-gray eyes must look wonderful when not obscured by his glasses.

I comfort myself with the fact that my honey bunny’s become litter box trained and that my book has pushed into the stratosphere of Amazon’s graphic novels. Just last week, I made the best one hundred sellers in that category. It was savvy of me to give up Moliere and Hemingway in favor of O’Malley and King.

Although I’m still troubled about whether I’m a scholar or a creative, and although I’m still nervous when my press agent touts my origins as not from Pittsburgh, but as from The Bronx, or Amherst, Roger remains fidel. My dear boy’s only palpable concern is his making it, in time, to the lip of his potty. Life, in that bun-bun’s mind, consists of a series of sunny windows, feed, and chamber pots. He’s so much more trouble-free than a manager or a mate.



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