First posted on the late, unlamented Felloffatruck Publications site on 1 November 2007. Pulled out of the recycle bin in honor of our friends at Waking Ambrose, where rabbits are always good luck on the first of the month. Especially if the dog catches them.
What’s that? Rabbits have fur? Not hare, um, hair? Hey. How do you know I’m not praising rabbitkind in Hindi? Hare Rabbit, Hare Rabbit, Rabbit Rabbit, Hare Hare.
No, Potter, I was not calling you.
But since you’re here, I’ve gotta tell you something. You could’ve dealt with that Voldemort character a lot more quickly and cheaply than you did. All you needed to do was turn yourself into a hare, Harry, dive into a top hat, and make him have to pull you out. Voldemort would have died of embarrassment at having to resort to such a cheap magician’s trick, and your buddies would all be around for the sequels that Rowling will eventually wish she’d been able to write, without her having to break every known law of thermodynamics to get them back.
I’ve been hearing a lot about rabbits lately. Especially on the first of the month. Y’see, a bunch of the blogging buddies with whom Quilly and I hang out have taken to shouting Rabbit, rabbit! at each other with their first posts/comments on said first days of the month. Supposed to bring good luck, it is. Like carrying around a rabbit’s foot. Which, I suppose, is good luck for the person who bagged the rabbit. Not so good for the rabbit who got bagged.
Now, as most of you know by this time, I am a scientist. And one who isn’t much on superstitions. Knock wood. So when the first of the month comes along, I tend to make myself more unwelcome than usual by tweaking the bunny talk somehow. Like saying Kuniklo, kuniklo. “Rabbit, rabbit” in Esperanto. Or Lapaki, lapaki. Hawai‘ian.
I was surprised to find that there’s a Hawai‘ian word for “rabbit”. Hawai‘i hasn’t got any rabbits, and, if it weren’t for the missionaries with their Easters, followed by the soldiers and sailors with their Easter bunnies for their wives and kids, a Hawai‘ian wouldn’t have a clue what a rabbit is.
And – trust me on this – they wouldn’t want to know. They didn’t know about rats and mice and pigs and cows either, until they all got imported by the whiteskins and proceeded to rip up the ‘uala, along with just about everything else green and edible.
There would have been nothing lucky at all about a rabbit infestation on these islands. Except maybe for the rabbits. Which typically know a good thing when they find it, and how to take advantage. Quickly. Like when Bill Cosby’s Noah complained to God about the animals that were getting into the Ark:
Two rabbits. Only two. Only two.
The rabbits did get loose in plenty of places they didn’t belong. Like Australia, for instance. When I lived there, oh, a few decades ago now, Volkswagen was marketing a car called the Rabbit in the USA. The same car on Australian roads was called the Golf.
Now, I have nothing against golf. Hell, I owe my college education to golf, or at least to working on golf courses – Tiger Wood’s supremacy on the links is under no threat from me. But I thought “Golf” was a funny name for a car, even if the club with which you typically hit your first shot on every hole is called a driver. So, like the naive Yankee I was, I asked a guy one day, while we were sitting at a bar in Adelaide, “how come you don’t call that car a Rabbit?”
I nearly got the beer mug in my face. And since beer is sacred in Australia, and not to be spilled, that was a measure of the joker’s irritation with me. About the only intelligible words in the torrent of noise thrown my way (along with the beer) were “damned rodents!” And as I became aware of the damage that rabbits can cause to pasture, I got to calling them “damned rodents” too. Lumped in with those rats and mice and beavers and groundhogs, and all those other buck-toothed menaces to grass and trees and corn and beans.
Until … I told you I am a scientist, right? Studying the diversity and evolutionary history of life on earth, right? Along with a bunch of other guys and gals of like mind? Some of whom decided, one fine day, to ask “is a rabbit a rodent?” So they got a lot of rabbits, and a lot of rodents, and they did a lot of DNA sequencing. And when they were done, they decided that the rabbits belonged, not to the rodents, but to the lagomorphs.
Which means, Gertrude, that a rabbit is … wait for it … a rabbit. Is a rabbit is a rabbit is a rabbit is, yeah, you can stop now.
Oh. The Hindi word for “rabbit” is khargosh. Hare Khargosh. Khargosh khargosh, hare hare. Doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Want to watch me pull a hare out of my hat?
– O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2007 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.