They call them bunnies
Plot bunnies. I think I first saw the term on LJ somewhere, and I was pretty sure I understood it from context, but to make sure I looked it up on the lingo websites where people explain slang. Basically it’s a term for the story ideas that keep hounding you until you go and write them. Except when you call them "bunnies," the ideas immediately become cute or charming, and even though it makes no sense, they conjure the image of a serene elderly woman in support knee-highs rocking gently on a porch on a sunny summer afternoon, knitting idly as she smiles off into the distance. Presumably the bunnies are hopping around on the lawn. However you slice it, it’s a lovely, calming image.
This is not what happens in my head. Not even fucking close. Allow me to give you tonight’s "bunny" encounter as an example.
Between blizzards and Christmas and a general whirlwind of chaos, I have not been able to get to the gym and have only managed the barest minimum of exercise at home. As a result I am in all manner of body hell, constantly high on Vicodin, and wake up crying in the middle of the night from pain. So I declared that today I would get to the gym, end of discussion. I had to wait until Dan came home as Anna is on vacation, and I went at 5:30, even though I didn’t want to go.
But when I get there, the gym is screamingly loud. The entire gym—a whole full size basketball court—is crammed with middle-aged women and pounding with techno beat, which wouldn’t be so bad, but over the top of this the most shrill, screamingly insane woman is belting out encouragement, and from the pinched nature of her tone I can only assume she is doing this exclusively through her left nostril. My GOD, it was a circle of hell. I hurried into the weight room to escape the sound.
The music and nostril screamer were being piped into the weight room through the speakers at four times the volume of the gym.
It was some sort of technical glitch (hi, Mercury in retrograde, you fucker), and the front desk apologized, but they couldn’t turn it off and there was nothing they could do until maintenance came the next morning. I could get my credit back on my punch card and come back at 6:30 or another time, or I could suffer through.
I chose to suffer, but I was really pissed off. I wanted to go back and demand they turn it down, because I swear they could hear that shit down on Highway 30, but I didn’t go and stewed in my fury instead. I imagined the wires in the speakers breaking, imagined the whole system bursting into colossal flame, but of course that did not work.
That was when the bunny showed up.
I don’t know how or when exactly it happened. All I knew was that suddenly the nasal screamer was not a woman but a man, and it was not me but a big hulky guy in the weight room, and both were gay, and both hated the other for living the stereotype or resisting it, or something, and then it just started exploding. Same-sex dancing, a dare, a contest, something—there was a brief flicker of trading places, the aerobics instructor learning weights and the body-builder attending a class, and then the same-sex dancing kept coming back, and it got so bad that even though I was reading a really great book on the treadmill (normally I can’t do this, but I really, really wanted to read, so I jacked up the resistance and tried to make my eyes move with the movement of my legs), even though it was a really hot sex scene, I stopped reading and started watching in-flight movies of The Exercise Instructor and Weight Room Guy Story. By the time I got off the machine I had rabid urges to run home to You Tube and start looking things up, to find names, to get out Curio and make a page. It didn’t matter that I am seriously banging up against the deadline for the short story, that I need to get back to Miles, that I have editing work, that I hadn’t even started dinner and needed to do some shopping first. Didn’t matter. The bunnies had arrived.
My "bunnies" do not sit and look adorable. They do not nuzzle my feet and lure me to their plots. They attack. They bite. They dig in their teeth and do not let go. I will be making notes tonight on this story whether it’s a good idea to do so or not. There was a moment when I could have let it go, a nanosecond where I could have walked away. I could have just thought "That’s nice" and let the bunny roll by. But I made eye contact. And then I fed it, and then I let it in. Oh, I can sit there like the lady on the porch, and it can be sunny and pretty and serene.
JUST SO LONG AS I DO WHATEVER THE BUNNY SAYS. Because unlike Monty Python, there is no running away.