Things that go bunny in the night

Aug 10, 2012 By Robert H. Peck

The night a cat, a rabbit, and a hole in the wall gave me insomnia.

During my first year at Yale University, I became accustomed to strange things waking me up in the night in my 7x10-foot bedroom.

Several times during the year, I was roused by a loud rapping on my door, only to find the assistant tennis coach outside looking for my roommate, Zach. A varsity tennis player, he had a tendency to forget when the bus was leaving.

Then there was the time that I woke up at 3 in the morning because a drunken junior class member had mistakenly wandered into our common room -- he had lived in our room his freshman year, and the alcohol had triggered his nostalgia something fierce.

At one point, I was awakened because a (barely-dressed) girl had come in wanting to invite our suite to a spontaneous "naked party" in the wee hours. Zach, the tennis player, took her up on it. I did not. It was 4:30 am.

However, these nocturnal disturbances all fall short of the one, the only, the strange awakening to end all strange awakenings that have ever seen fit to darken my already darkened door: waking up because your uncle is trying loudly to coax a rabbit out of your guest-room wall.

Surprisingly, this god among oddities did not take place at the good University. No, the wall-rabbit struck right here at home, while I was cozily snuggled away enjoying the second month of my summer break. On that fateful night, my aunt and uncle were up from Colorado, and they stayed with us during the couple of days they were around.

But their presence was an unwelcome discovery for another resident of the house: Tilly, our large orange cat, who typically monopolizes the guest room bed. The presence of outsiders was not about to deter Tilly from claiming her spot in the room, though, and so she was hanging around as night fell on the evening of my family's stay.

Furthermore, Tilly decided that she would bring the visitors a housewarming gift, since they were effectively taking over her house. That gift came in the form of a small bunny, wide-eyed and quivering, that Tilly chased into the guest room at about midnight, just as the visitors were preparing to retire.

Desperate to escape, the bunny found solace in a small hole created to allow electrical wiring passage through the guest room wall via the hot-water heat register. The hole was big enough to allow the rabbit in, but with strange humans and a vicious cat-beast waiting outside, it was in no mood to vacate the wall any time soon.

This situation was unsustainable for two people who wanted to actually sleep that night, and so my uncle preceded to begin coaxing the rabbit from his wall. This involved, among other things, banging on said wall, which happens to be a shared wall between the guest room and mine. Thus, my own manifestation followed a short time after the rabbit's, and the two of us were equally confused.

"There's a rabbit stuck in the wall," my uncle said. "I think it's time to get your parents involved."

The task of going upstairs and waking my mom and dad by telling them, "there is a rabbit stuck in the wall" was one I initially found daunting.

I assumed my words would be dismissed as a dream, disconnected from the very real crisis occurring in our basement. But to his immense credit, my dad woke at once when I roused him, took me seriously, and came downstairs to assist. My mom has since told me that she did indeed think it was all a dream. In her drowsiness, she heard "there is a wallet in the wall."

But alas, my dad's presence didn't help the rabbit problem. Try as they might, he and my uncle only managed to jam the bunny further into the wall as they attempted gingerly to remove it while avoiding painful bites. Desperate, they tried everything: poking the bunny with a stick, talking to it, poking it with the stick again, talking to it, poking it with a stick, talking to it again, and poking it with a stick.

But though their strategies were as diverse as they were cunning, it was no use. Someone was going to have to put his hand in the wall and pull that rabbit out of there.

That wonderful task fell to my uncle, who, frustrated at long last by the small fuzzy animal's ability to thwart him, threw caution to the winds, stuffed his mitt into the hole and wrenched forth the bun, at which point it was placed into a bucket by my dad and lobbed ingloriously over the hedge by yours truly.

"Well," I said to the sweating older relatives. "Goodnight."

And then I went back to bed.

The moral of this story: between the tennis coach and the rabbit, I'll take the coach any day (no comment on the barely-dressed co-ed; my mom is reading this).

Thanks for the perspective, bunny. Now get out of my walls.

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