I have a confession to make.
I broke my jackalope.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the jackalope, it’s a semi-mythical creature of the plains that looks like a misbegotten match between a very large jack rabbit and a very small mule deer. Those who claim to have seen jackalopes other than in roadside taverns claim that they’re reclusive, can hop great distances and can become savagely aggressive when cornered.
Naysayers will claim that the so-called jackalope is nothing more than a regional practical joke formulated by bored taxidermists who spend all their free time attaching second-rate mule deer horns to the heads of third-rate jack rabbits between hunting seasons so fourth-rate roadside taverns will have something interesting to hang behind the bar.
Although I’ve never seen a live jackalope, I’ve had a trophy jackalope head hanging in the hallway of my apartment for close to 15 years, primarily because it was a gift from my late uncle – who swore jackalopes were real – and because I honestly didn’t have anything else that would fit there.
Last week, the unthinkable happened. While pulling a heavyweight sweater from a bent coathanger attached to a broken television antenna in my hall closet, the sweater stretched out, snapped, flew around in a half-circle, snagged my jackalope by the horns and brought it crashing to the floor.
Jackalopes are among the hardiest of hanging wall creatures, but mine was no match for a 78-pound, overstretched Romanian sweater. When I tried to pick up the jackalope, I discovered it had broken into three very irreparable pieces.
A broken jackalope is a sad thing. So I tossed it in the closet where it could keep the homicidal sweater company.
Admittedly, I could try to repair the jackalope, or take it to a professional taxidermist for reconstruction, but considering the effect it’s had on my love life for more than a decade, I think I’ll leave it in the closet.
Perhaps I should explain.
(Sure, why not?)
You see, as much as I enjoyed the fierce-looking mammal, women of my acquaintance generally did not and “acquaintance” was about as far as our relationships progressed after they encountered the jackalope in the hallway.
“Ohhhhh, I can’t believe you killed that cute little, er, harmless, uh, that poor little whatchamacallit!” is a typical response, usually followed by the slamming of my apartment door as my date departs.
Explanations usually fall on deaf ears. Every time I try to explain the jackalope to an outraged date before she can storm out the door, things just get worse:
“Do you mean to tell me that somebody killed two cute, harmless little animals so you could have one stupid jackalope on your wall?! You are beyond cruel and insensitive!”(Insert door slam here).
Yes, I’m going to miss my jackalope, but I’m looking forward to romance when next the magnolia blooms…
Originally published January 30, 2005