Benjamin "Bunny" Benoit
I have always found the connection between someone’s nickname and actual personality interesting. Maybe, it is because once you know the nickname you begin looking for clues as to its origin. I had a friend in high school whose nickname was “Toes”. I thought that was odd until I saw her feet. She had the longest toes I had ever seen. Thus, her brothers created a nickname to match this interesting physical feature, and it stuck.
Benjamin’s nickname is “Bunny”. I began calling him “Bunny” after coming across an old copy of The Tales of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter. It just seemed to fit him especially since he seems to hop instead of run when he picks up speed. It never occurred to me that giving him a nickname could possibly influence his personality as a human’s nickname often does. As usual, I was wrong.
My kitchen must have been designed with watchful cats in mind. The main counter space also serves as the border between the kitchen and the family room. It is shaped like an angled letter L and is backed by a taller counter that serves as a deli-style eating surface. This creates a great viewing space for my cats since they can observe my cooking catastrophes from slightly above the danger zone.
Several nights ago, I decided to “attempt” to make Mediterranean Chicken Breast and Wild Rice. It seemed simple enough, and the prep time was only supposed to be 20 minutes. Confident that success was eminent, I launched into action.
If you ever watch me cook, you will see my years of teaching science shine through. I line every ingredient up in the order of use on the counter, measure the amounts needed, and place them in little glass bowls in front of the original bottles, etc… As soon as Benjamin Bunny hears the clink of glass hitting the kitchen counter, he always “hops” into the kitchen and assumes his post on the tall counter overlooking my cookbook stand.
Except for the occasional dropping of a hairband into a bowl full of casserole ingredients, Bunny has rarely left his post. He just seems to enjoy watching me make a mess and occasionally panic when things start boiling over or smoking. I should have learned by now that there is always an exception to the rule. (Note: No matter how long you cook them; hairbands are NOT a great addition to any recipe.)
This particular dish called for the addition of several different vegetables: carrots, celery, corn, and red potatoes. Out came my handy dandy cutting board with veggie chopping mat, bowls to put sliced or diced vegetables in, and the vegetables themselves. At this point, everything was moving along normally…except Bunny did seem a little intrigued with the bags containing the carrots and celery.
Now as some of you know from previous posts, Bunny’s attraction to bags and boxes is nothing new. So, I didn’t really give his interest in the vegetable bags much thought. With all vegetable ingredients in place ready to be chopped, I turned away from the counter and prepared to walk the few steps across the kitchen to retrieve my chef’s knife.
Before I could even take one step, Benjamin jumped down from his observation post, tippy toed over to the plastic bag containing the celery, and began trying to pull the celery out of the bag. Dumbstruck, I stood staring blankly for the first few seconds. Then, I picked him up and plopped him on the kitchen floor.
Within minutes, Bunny leaped from the floor to the counter where the bags of vegetables sat. This time he attacked the bag of carrots – licking the end of a carrot that was sticking out of the bag.
It took several rounds of this scenario - with Bunny alternating between celery and carrots - before I was able to distract him long enough to cut up the vegetables. I think I just finally wore him down. Leaping from floor to counter top over and over again without achieving your goal would drain the strength from even the most physically fit feline.
It was while I was mixing the chopped vegetables in with the chicken that the connection between Benjamin’s nickname and his behavior in the kitchen came to me. We have been calling him Bunny since he was just a few weeks old. Bunnies and vegetables go together like peanut butter and jelly. Could it be possible that Benjamin’s behavior has been influenced by this reference to a rabbit? And if so, have I damaged my cat’s mental wellbeing? All of these thoughts came rushing at me in rapid succession.
But then, I looked down at my beloved Bunny playing with his favorite toy – a life size catnip carrot. Maybe I had it all wrong. Maybe he would have been attracted to vegetables no matter what nickname I gave him. Maybe I just happened to pick the right one. Definitely food for thought!
Until next time, remember…
Reality is the other person’s idea of how things should be.
- John M. Shanahan