My parents, though ridiculously smart to the point of over-educated, weren’t always swift on the uptake with things that were right in front of them. My mom, one Christmas, bought my brother Peter a knitted ski hat with deer frolicking on it only to discover, after having given the gift, that the deer weren’t so much frolicking as fucking. This leads nicely into my story.
On one of our many trips to the big city of Portland, Maine, Mom and Dad would always make a stop at a gourmet cooking and kitchen supply shop called The Whip and Spoon. As soon as you walked in the door you were enveloped in the wonderful smell of coffee beans and chocolate. All the cooking implements you could want were available here.
At the age of five I became more aware of the concept of ownership. I had noticed that Mom and Dad each had their own mug that they used for coffee and tea while I was given whatever else was in the cupboard. Walking around the store I saw a shelf with a lot of mugs on them. One particular group, right at eye level, I liked instantly because there were drawings of animals all over them. There was a mug with elephants, a mug with penguins, but I was drawn to the bunny mug (as it would become known in my house and by my friends). Almost every square inch of this mug was covered with piles of nothing but bunnies doing different things. My mom came up behind me and asked what I was looking at. “Mommy, can I get this mug? I’d like to have a mug that’s mine.” She looked it over looked and at the price tag ($5, I remember to this day.) Mom said yes, gave me the five dollars and told me I could go up to the counter and get it myself. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited this made me. This was my first ever purchasing experience; I was giddy with the rush of consumerism. Not only was I getting the mug I wanted, I was going to go up the counter and pay for it by myself.
Mom stood back as I got in line with the grownups. When I got up to the front of the line the clerk peered over the counter, smiled and asked if she could help me. I put the mug on the counter, held out the five dollar bill and said. “I would like to buy this, please. It’s for me. I like the bunnies.” The clerk took the money and glanced at the mug. Then she looked a little bit harder at the mug, then looked at me. She looked at the mug again and looked out to see if I was with anyone. My mother made eye-contact with the clerk, smiled and nodded her head towards me indicating that she knew I was getting it. The clerk looked at me again, rang up the sale and handed me a brown paper handled bag with the mug in it and handed me the receipt. “Thank you.” She said, flatly, again looking at my Mom.
On the long drive home I kept peering into the bag to look at MY mug and was proud that I stood in line to get it myself. As soon as I got home I ran inside wanting to put it in the cupboard with the other mugs. While taking the mug from me to put next to the sink for washing, Mom glanced at the mug. Then she looked a little harder at it, then harder still. She looked uncertain for a moment, I wondered why she had a funny look on her face.
Ladies and gentlemen, my bunny mug–
Upon first blush there are just piles of rabbits in funny positions. As a five-year-old, that’s what I saw. As an adult, when you look at it a little more closely you may notice that there’s more going on, not merely a pile of rabbits but an orgiastic pile of rabbits. All the bunnies on my new mug were either fucking or masturbating.
Mom looked a me for a minute then slowly washed my new bunny mug and put it in the dish rack. Seeing as I was still excited about my new mug, Mom made tea. She drank out of her mug decorated with flowers and I out of my mug decorated with fucking rabbits. I guess Mom, correctly, concluded that the images would go right over my head; to me it was just my new mug. “I like my mug, Mommy.” I said after the first couple of sips. “I’m glad.” she said smiling into hers.
Epilogue: my original mug was beige with blue ink images; the mug broke when I was in high school (well beyond figuring out what my bunnies were up to.) I was disconsolate and could not find a replacement. A few weeks before heading off to college, I found the bunny mug! Not in the original colors but in the colors seen in the above pictures. I had the replacement well through undergrad and beyond. The second bunny mug broke a few years ago and I have yet to find its match. Sniff.
Thanks to the blog Fussy where I found the images of my long-lost friend.