This is a story about Grumble Bunny. Grumble Bunny was exactly like you would imagine a grumble bunny might be, grumpy and a bunny. No one knew why he was so grumbly, just that he had always been that way and unless you wanted to get an ear full of why things were so rotten you would do well to steer clear. Grumble Bunny had never smiled a day in his life and it was said that he didn’t even know how. Howard the badger, the town’s new mailman, had made the mistake of trying to be friendly to Grumble Bunny one day as he was delivering his mail. Grumble Bunny had reduced Howard into a sniveling shadow of his former self within minutes.
Of course rumors of just how terrible Grumble Bunny was were some of the town’s best gossip. “I heard he knocked a robin singing outside his window right off the branch with nothing but a stare,” Shelly the groundhog said over her ongoing game of checkers with Ted the Schnauzer. “Well, I heard he went to Maggie’s Grocery & Deli and cracked one egg in every carton in the store just because he brought home a carton that had a broken egg in it,” Ted countered. “No flowers will grow six inches within his property, cause he’s so sour,” Shelly shot back. This conversation could go on for hours.
On a particularly beautiful Saturday afternoon, Grumble Bunny shuffled out of his house, kicked a stray ball into the gutter that had landed in his yard and turned to walk towards town. Grumbling as he went, he almost walked over a little girl ferret before he noticed her in his path. “Move,” Grumble Bunny growled at the little girl ferret who looked up from her sidewalk chalk but did not move. “You didn’t say the magic word, mister,” Dannie, the little girl ferret replied innocently. “Move, or I’ll move you myself,” Grumble Bunny snarled. “Who is this imp? Doesn’t she know who I am?” He thought to himself. “Sorry, mister. That’s not the magic word,” and with that Dannie turned back to the sunflower she had been drawing. Grumble Bunny had never been so flustered in his life. Not knowing what else to do, he side stepped the preposterous girl and her sub-par art and continued on his way.
This happened on several more occasions. Grumble Bunny would head towards town and inevitably the little girl ferret, Dannie was her name he learned would be in his path, playing marbles, skipping rope or some other nonsense. No matter how intimidating or ornery he had been, Dannie seemed completely immune to his grumpiness and he would end up having to move around her if he wanted to get where he was going. Not willing to admit defeat to that slip of a girl, Grumble Bunny would try to come up with things to say that would get the girl to finally realize who she was dealing with. He tried making fun of her small size, told her that her drawings were bad at best and that she was shoddy with a jump rope. Nothing worked. Dannie would just smile politely and then go back to whatever she had been doing.
One day on the way to the hardware store, Grumble Bunny grumbled low as he approached Dannie for maybe the 100th time. Hitching up his pants, he was just about to inform her that the tulip she was drawing was the worst excuse for a flower he had ever seen when Dannie thrust a green piece of chalk into his hand and without even looking up, directed him to fill in the leaves for her tulip. And without thinking, that is exactly what he did. After about 10 silent minutes of coloring flowers and butterflies on the sidewalk, Dannie, with yellow chalk clasped in her paw looked up at Grumble Bunny and asked, “Why are you called Grumble Bunny, anyway?”
“Well, that’s just what people started calling me, so that’s who I am I guess,” honestly, Grumble Bunny hadn’t really thought about his name in a long, long time. “People call you something, for so long, it just becomes a part of you, like a mole or a freckle,” Grumble Bunny continued. “I think that’s silly. Just cause people say something, don’t make it true,” Dannie chuckled at the concept as if it were the funniest thing she had heard all day. Turning back to her sidewalk art, Grumble Bunny thought that might have been the end of the conversation when Dannie asked, “So what were you called before?”
“Before what?” Grumble Bunny asked. “Before people started calling you Grumble Bunny…what were you called?” Dannie put her chalk down and wrapped her arms around her knees and looked up for his answer. “Huh…well, let me see,” Grumble Bunny twitched his nose as he thought for a second and then answered, “They called me Donald. Donald the bunny.”
“Glad to meet you Donald. Donald the bunny. That daisy needs more petals,” Dannie thrust a bright pink wedge of chalk at him and went back to work.
Donald smiled for the first time in as long as he could remember, and then added more petals to his daisy.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Today at our local diner, we were seated in front of two women, a baby in a carrier, and a very sour-faced little boy. He wasn’t throwing tantrums, he wasn’t screaming or running around the restaurant, he just sat quietly and frowned at anyone who dared to make eye contact. His adult companions both tried to illicit a sunnier disposition from this young man, but he was having none of it. Our waitress even gave it a shot and was met by a stony glare and a crescent moon-sized frown. Both women immediately apologized to the unsuccessful waitress and by way of explaining the boy’s behavior just kept saying, “He’s just a Grumble Bunny. Can’t even get a smile out of a Grumble Bunny.” The waitress gave a half-hearted laugh and asked the boy, “why are you so grumpy?”. To which one of the women (his grandmother?) replied, “Oh… he’s a Grumble Bunny.” Now I’m no child psychologist, but if every adult in the immediate area was calling me a grumble bunny, you better believe that would put me in a permanent funk. I mean if you tell a kid that they are grumpy, it’s been my experience that that is exactly what the will be. And why not? They’re getting attention, people are constantly trying to cheer them up, usually with sweets or toys (both good things) so heck yeah, if I’m this kid, I’m milking this grumble bunny thing for all it’s worth. At least that’s me…
Love & Squirrels.