With her quick wit and lighthearted personality, Bunny Larrabee can make people laugh about almost anything. She collects knock-knock jokes, riddles, and all kinds of comedy routines to try out on her best friend, Emily.
The only thing Bunny doesn’t find humor in is her unusual name—she’s heard jokes about it her whole life, and none of them are funny. So when an impossibly gorgeous guy starts talking to her at a concert, Bunny opens her mouth and says two fateful words: “I’m Emily.”
It’s just one tiny lie, but it will drive a wedge between the two best friends. And with what looks like more serious misfortune on the horizon, Bunny will need Emily’s friendship and advice more than ever.
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B, My Name Is Bunny
By Norma Fox Mazer
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1987 Norma Fox Mazer
All rights reserved.
I might as well tell you my name and get it over with. Are you ready for this? Bunny. No, that's not a nickname. That is my whole, real, entire birth name. B-U-N-N-Y. Okay, time out for the yuk-yuks and the bunny jokes, as in Easter bunnies, bunny rabbits, hippitty hoppitty, bunny fur, cuddle bunny, and dumb bunny. And, definitely, let's not forget Bugs Bunny.
The year we were in fifth grade, every time Davis Buck saw me (which was about twenty-five times a day), he'd say, "What's up, Doc?" And he'd shove his front teeth out—rabbit teeth, get it? Then he'd say, "Geeeeze, guys, I godda eat my ledduce."
What did I do? Acted like I could care less. My best friend, Emily Boots, and I figured out that was the way to drive Davis Buck crazy. I really hated him that year, but, in some ways, like I told Emily, how could you blame Davis? I got stuck with a silly name.
Don't try to tell that to my mother. "But, sweetie, Bunny is an old family name. You know I named you for my Aunt Bunny."
Maybe. And maybe Mom was in her animal phase when I was born. The way she was in her nature phase for my brother and her cosmic phase for my sister. Still, Shad and Star definitely got the better deal. Shad is not such a bad name for a boy, as long as you don't know it's short for Shadbush, which is my mother's favorite spring tree. My sister's name is Starship Larrabee. Not a great name to be stuck with, but it does shorten down nicely to Star.
I wouldn't mind being called a name that has to do with the universe. Though, come to think of it, after Star, what is there? Globe? Planet? Meteor? I guess I ought to be glad my mom wasn't still out in space when I was born.
That's when she and Dad bought our house. Star was five years old then. My mother says the first word I learned to say was "Mama" and the second word was "mine." She says I used to walk around our house, patting the walls and saying, "Mine, mine, mine."
Dad calls our house the old monster. It has ten rooms, three chimneys, and four fireplaces, but only one works. Our plumbing gets into trouble about twice a year. Mom says we should replace the roof. My father says we can live with that for a while longer, but the hot water tank is shot.
My room has a slanted ceiling, a window seat, and old wallpaper with faded yellow roses. My father said I could have the room redone as a birthday present, but I said, No, thanks!
Emily lives in an apartment and her mother is always worrying about upsetting the landlord, who lives downstairs. Emily envies me our house, but it evens out because I envy her her name. I think Emily is the perfect name. It's pretty, it's old-fashioned, and for extra measure, it's the name of a famous poet, Emily Dickinson. Emily's mother likes poetry.
My mom says I shouldn't let my name make me unhappy. She should talk. At least once a week she brings up how sorry she is that she didn't keep her own last name when she married Dad.
Before Mom was Lorraine Larrabee, she was Lorraine Watjoichkas. That looks harder to say than it is. All you have to do is say, Watch Your Kiss, but you have to say it fast. Wachyerkiss. I learned how to say that a long time before I knew how it was spelled. Watch-Your-Kiss made perfect sense to me, because my Grandma Watjoichkas was always kissing me when she came to visit.
Grandma lives in Toronto. I usually get to visit her—alone—at least once a year. Even though her hair is totally white, she's not at all the person you would expect from just thinking of the word "grandmother." She's very slim and wears jeans, big dangly silver earrings, and really bright silk blouses. She says, "I have to live my life, not according to any predetermined idea, but as to how I feel." What this means is that my grandmother will always surprise you.
This year I grew taller than both my grandmother and my sister. One more inch and I'll be looking down on my mother and creeping right up there on my father. Mom says, "There must have been some very tall genes somewhere back there in our family."
"Just call me the family freak," I say.
Which makes my father give me a nervous look. Is my daughter revving up to be a candidate for therapy? But after a moment, I can see by the way his eyebrows relax that he's decided I'm too normal to be abnormal.
In our class at school, I'm the tallest girl and nearly the tallest person. There is one other girl who's almost as tall as me, Ami Pelter, but it's different for her. First, on a person like Ami, being tall looks good. She's really cute! Second, she doesn't have buck teeth (I do, which is another reason Davis's making rabbit teeth at me drove me completely crazy), and third, if Ami did have buck teeth, I know her father would get them fixed. I have Mr. Pelter for language arts, and I can tell you, he's that kind of sympathetic person who would take another person's problems seriously.
Not my father. He says, "You don't have an overbite, Bunny. It's all in your mind." He would say that. He's a psychologist.
"Dad, I've got news for you. These teeth are not in my mind. They are in my mouth."
"Your teeth give you character," my mother says. For once, she agrees with Dad. I know why. They don't want to spend the money. Sure, braces are big bucks, but it's my mouth and my teeth.
I told Emily, "I'm doomed to go around forever with crooked teeth."
"Bunny, really, your teeth don't stick out." Emily has a way of frowning and looking me over with her head tipped to one side. "They're not completely straight. But it's not noticeable to anybody."
Even though I still think they stick out, I feel better when Emily says that. At least, until the next time I look in the mirror.
Emily also doesn't think I'm too tall. About that, all she will say is, "Bunny! How can a person be too tall?" To which I say, "Emily, if you were as tall as me, you'd know."
Last year, in sixth grade, our school played Durwin Middle School for the citywide basketball championship. The next morning, when I took the paper in, there we were, right on the sports page. And there I was, jumping in the air for the basket, and looking huge. Underneath, it said: Despite the efforts of Bunny (Toooo Tall) Larrabee for her team, Drumlins Middle School lost to Durwin 55–76.
Next day in school: "How's Bunny 'Toooo Tall' Larrabee this morning?" And that wasn't even a kid! It was Mr. Maxwell, our homeroom teacher. What a tease. I feel sorry for his kids.
Some people think, because of my father's work, being a psychologist, he must be the ideal, understanding father figure. News flash! My dad is fat—well, overweight—and he smokes too much, and he really knows how to bug me. For instance, he gets SO anxious about me if I'm out two seconds after 9P.M. What does he think is going to happen? I'll look at a boy and turn into green cheese? Or maybe the werewolves come out then.
Shad is four years younger than me, but already Dad doesn't fuss much if he comes in from playing later than me. This is one case where I'm really glad my mother disagrees with him. "Bill, you are not going to limit Bunny that way. Now, if you're worried about your daughter, you get out there and do something about the people you're really worried about. Which is, let's face it, other males."
Mom works for the police department. She's not a cop. She's definitely not the type to arrest anyone. She's an artist, and she works in public relations.
She and Officer Friendly are a team. Every day, they visit hospitals and schools and while Officer Friendly is telling the kids about safety rules, my mom is drawing pictures. Sometimes she draws the kids and gives them their pictures afterward, sometimes she uses the overhead projector and draws pictures to illustrate what Officer Friendly is saying.
Since my father is a psychologist, he and Mom are sort of in the same business—helping people. But that doesn't mean they get along like peanut butter and jelly. When they disagree, they call it "having a discussion." When Shad and I do the same thing, it's a fight. Shad usually wins our arguments. He's sort of relentless.
I don't know who wins when Mom and Dad go at it, but Dad has an advantage, like Mom says, in any argument—excuse me! discussion—because of being a psychologist. He can always rip out some big word describing your personality, or your emotional tendencies, or your character flaws. Not that he does, very much. He's really sort of a gentle person.
His favorite thing to talk about, actually, is Multiple Personality Ripples, which is his own discovery. He's going to write a book about it someday. People with MPR are basically normal, but (my father says) they don't have a really fixed personality. Their personalities bop around, so they're one way one time and another way another time.
Now this could be a description of my mom. Last night, I was in the bathroom washing my hair over the tub, and she came in to brush her teeth. "Did you rinse all the soap out?" she said, and she turned on the shower.
"Mom!" I screamed. "Cold water! That's sadistic."
"You have to get all the soap out, honey."
"I'm doing it. I'm doing it!" I stood up and wrapped my head in a towel.
She started toweling my hair dry. "You have such pretty hair, Bunny. It's so thick and healthy."
See what I mean about MPR? Now she was being really nice. I leaned against her, and I don't know how it happened but we got to talking about my problems, such as my teeth, my height, Dad's attitude about makeup, and etcetera.
Mom listened for a while, then she said, "Look, Bunny, I want to tell you something. There's no use moaning about your problems."
I straightened up. "I'm not moaning."
"Well, chewing them over, or whatever you're doing. I don't even think most of them are problems, but since you do, why not think of them like a bunch of bananas. You don't try to rip off all the bananas at one go, do you?" She started brushing her teeth, which was what she originally came in for.
Bunny: "But, Mom—" Mom (with a mouth full of foam): "You take one banana at a time, right? It's the same with whatever bothers you. You have six problems? Same as having six bananas. Take one off. You have five left."
"Mom, that's a really neat comparison, but bananas get ripe, then they get rotten."
"My point exactly! So do problems if you don't attack them."
"But when bananas get rotten, you throw them out."
Mom (rinsing her mouth): "Same with problems. Think of them like bananas. Visualize them! Imagine you're throwing them out."
"Okay, I'm throwing out bananas." I started pitching imaginary bananas over my head. "Oh, Mom, sorry, that one splatted on the wall!" "Sweetie! Everything with you is a joke. This visualization might really work." She went off to find my father and see what he thought about it. I went downstairs and phoned Emily.CHAPTER 2
I like to make people laugh. I might be a comedian, someday, someone like Phyllis Diller or Joan Rivers. I don't know if I can, but I think about it. I get in a certain mood and I can't be serious about anything. I crack jokes or make remarks, which I HOPE are funny. Sometimes I do this, even when I don't want to.
And then sometimes—not too often, I admit—I'm totally serious. I don't want to tell any jokes. I don't want to hear any jokes. I might just lie on my bed and listen to music and think about things. When Emily's parents got divorced last year, I was like that. Emily and I were both sad for a long time. And even after weeks had passed and I didn't think about what happened to her so much, I couldn't stop thinking about how lucky I was to have my parents and my family.
But my main personality is to be lighthearted and have a good time. I like trying out my jokes and practicing routines in my room. I haven't gone public yet. So far the person I most make laugh is Emily. She's really easy. I'll give you an example.
Yesterday, she asked me if I noticed the new guy in math class.
Bunny: "What new guy?"
Emily: "You didn't see that new guy? He was sitting right across from you."
Bunny: "I didn't see anyone...." Pause. "Unless you mean the guy with the wave in his hair? Was wearing a green shirt with white stripes? Mickey Mouse watch on his left arm? Had tiny ears? Dirt smudge on his right cheek?"
I was ready to go on, but Emily was laughing too hard to hear anything, anyway.
One trouble with being a funny person is that sometimes people don't know when you're being serious. You'd think my father, being a psychologist, could tell the difference, wouldn't you? Last night, after supper, he asked me to help him clip the privet hedge in front of our house. What he really wanted was to get me without my mother around, so he could lecture me about growing up too fast.
"Bunny. I know you are basically a sensible girl, but sometimes you—I mean, not necessarily YOU, but someone with another person—can get carried away and do things that are not necessarily in that first person's—OR the second person's—best interest. Do you follow me?"
Sure I did. I've had all my life to figure out what my father is talking about when he gets going on a subject. 1. Growing up too fast means I wore eye shadow to school. 2. "Someone" refers to me. 3. The "other person" has to be Emily. As to getting carried away, my question is, Where?
Maybe he worries because I am sort of impulsive, but I don't think I'm a dope. And I know Emily isn't! I've even heard my mother say, "For a girl her age, she has both feet on the ground."
"Are you listening to me?" my father said.
"What I'm saying is not for your amusement."
Was I smiling? I put on a stern expression. "Sorry, Dad!"
"I'm trying to have a talk here with you, Bunny."
"Okay, okay, listen to what I'm saying. I don't think makeup is appropriate for your age—and while I'm at it, I don't want you to get involved with dating for a very long time."
Did he really have to say it? Emily and I have talked about dating and boys and all that stuff, and we've decided we're never going to act desperate, like some girls do. Ohh, ohhh, I don't have a boyfriend. What will I do? Who will I go to the movies with? There's a party coming! I don't have a date!
We think this is really stupid. What's wrong with going to the movies with your girl friend? Do you have to have a date for a party? If Emily and I go to a party together, we just have a lot of fun. And we don't think it's the end of the world if we dance with each other.
A lot of girls feel like they have to have a boyfriend for status, or something. Their life isn't complete without a boyfriend. It's not like they fall in love. Mari Champion, who's the biggest flirt in our class, is always falling in love. So she says. I say, Gimme a break! At our age, you don't fall in love. I mean, everybody knows that. Emily and I agree that really falling in love is different.
We talk about all this stuff, we talk about everything. There's nobody else I can talk to like Emily.
But even Emily reads me wrong sometimes. Today we were in the cafeteria, eating lunch, and I happened to ask her what her mother's real name was. Right away, she wanted to know what was the joke.
"No joke. What's your mother's real name?"
"You know. Ann Boots."
"I said her real name."
"Is it a riddle?"
"Emily, this is a question in the spirit of curiosity. Scholarship can't flourish without curiosity," I said, quoting my father. And I threw in a little nose snort, the way he does.
"Thank you," I said. "Now, don't you know what your mama's name was before she married your papa?"
"Oh! That! Why didn't you say so? Her name was Simpson."
"Well, that's a perfectly lovely name. Why did she change it to Boots?"
"Bunny, she got married!"
"She didn't have to marry your father's name. She only had to marry him."
"Bunny, when you get married—"
"IF I get married."
"—you can keep your name."
"That's when I throw my name away, Emily. Good-bye, Bunny! But, I'll keep Larrabee."
"Well, when I get married, I'm going to take my husband's name."
"No! That's so unliberated."
"Bunny, you can do things your way. I'll do things my way!"
Excerpted from B, My Name Is Bunny by Norma Fox Mazer. Copyright © 1987 Norma Fox Mazer. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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