Biff America: A deadly rabbit
My sister called to remind me of the time I killed my great-aunt Agnes.
This is not the first time I’ve been accused of this, and I’ve always felt it was a bum rap. She was, after all, 89 years old when her heart gave out. But she did have that heart attack, almost three months to the day, after I, fresh out of the shower, gave her a nude performance of the “bunny hop.”
As a child, I loved to be naked. My mother would allow me to dry off after a bath by sprinting around the house nude, like a freshly washed greyhound. I remember hot summer nights and the joy of running wet — and in the buff — on our newly mowed lawn. Often, to hasten the drying process, I would throw in a few “bunny hops.”
In retrospect, this might have been the cause of the declining property values in our neighborhood.
To those unacquainted with the bunny hop, the proper form is to hold your hands in front of your chest in rabbit position, while at the same time taking several quick jumps. The jumping movement accelerates the drying process and causes anything not strapped down to bounce.
I only vaguely remember my great-aunt Agnes as a sullen, dour woman with a mustache. She never married and — as far as anyone could remember — never dated. Part of our family lore was that as a young girl Agnes had a medical procedure that (technically) made her no longer a virgin. Supposedly the doctor provided a document that explained to any future suitors, that though Agnes’ hymen was no longer intact, she in fact was a virgin. According to myth, Agnes kept her certificate of virginity handy well into her 80s. To anyone’s recollection, no one inquired.
Whenever she came to visit, my Mum would caution us, “Agnes is not used to kids, so behave.”
Like many family stories, I hardly remember the actual event and admittedly the incident has gotten massaged by the retelling over the years. But the story goes that while my Mum and great aunt were enjoying a cup of tea, I, fresh out of the bath, bounded out of the bathroom, bunny-hopped to Aunt Agnes, and gave her a wet hug.
This was not the last time my naked body caused revulsion.
The family legend continues that after I took my bows and exited, Agnes remained distracted the entire evening. She was inept in the after dinner hearts game and retired early claiming a headache.
A few months later she passed away, and I was left out of her will.
Supposedly Adam and Eve went buck naked while living in the Garden of Eden. But after their apple eating misadventure caused them to feel shame, they put on clothing. (Though I’ve always wondered if maybe that was the same time God created ticks.)
Somewhere, sometime, some people decided what was proper and what was immodest, and we bought into it. Whoever those people were, they determined that a naked body was not natural but sexual.
When the Christians missionaries landed in the South Pacific, supposedly, one of their first lessons to the natives was that their immodest, and practical, clothing was a godly abomination. They touted the divine endorsement of the heavy and itchy clothing that they themselves wore. Thus they exposed the natives to both religion and prickly heat.
Since Adam and Eve, we’ve only gotten weirder about our bodies. There are some religions where married couples allegedly on their honeymoon procreate with a sheet between them with a hole cut in it. Who am I to judge, but I will say I would not advise going to their house on Halloween dressed as a ghost.
My naked bunny hopping days ended when I was about 5 years old. This was probably a combination of my Catholic guilt and my parents’ sensibilities. But somewhere along the line, like Adam and Eve, I became modest. Gone are the days when I frolicked like a wild creature, comfortable with my native state. Even with dear friends, I feel an underlying shyness that prevents me from feeling totally natural when I’m … well, you know, natural.
Call it modesty, prudence, or propriety. I’m most comfortable (and more attractive) when I’m clothed. Maybe there’s still that lingering doubt, that the family legend is fact. Certain parts of my anatomy can be deadly to those with weak hearts … or stomachs …
Jeffrey Bergeron’s column “Biff America” publishes Mondays in the Summit Daily News. Bergeron has worked in TV and radio for more than 30 years, and his column can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He is the author of “Mind, Body, Soul.” Bergeron arrived in Breckenridge when there was plenty of parking and no stoplights. Contact him at email@example.com.
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