AND THEN AGAIN…….by Tamara Pettit

……..They’re gonna be “somebunny!”

….”…..I can see Roberta Rabbit, my fictious alter-ego, looking at my two great granddaughters and imagining what possibilities lie ahead for them.  There can be no limitations! 

……..It wasn’t always the case.  Back in the seventies a woman couldn’t get a credit card or a mortgage on her own.  If you worked, you quit when you got married and at Weirton Steel you quit when you got pregnant. I was frustrated with my lot in life, but I was a fanciful person,  By fanciful  I mean   I imagined a lot.  So, I created a rabbit named Roberta who could do and say what I couldn’t without being deemed obnoxious.

…..When Roberta debuted she was angry.  As a reporter, I imagined trudging up to her bunny hutch,  the home of the famous “Peter Rabbit” aka “The Easter Bunny”, and interviewing her as the  women of the hour.  Everyone wanted the big guy, but I wanted “the little woman”.    What insight she must have to the holiday.  What makes those marshmallow peeps so crunchy yet creamy inside?  Who puts the foil on those little chocolate eggs?  Was she a  “wrap the basket with cellophane” or a minimalist bare basket kinda girl?  Honestly, I was just looking for a fluff piece. What I ended up with was a social commentary.

…….The doorbell rang several times to the tune of “Here comes Peter Cottontail” before a haggard Roberta answered the door. “I can’t talk. I got eggs boiling and candy setting.” There was Easter grass clinging to her droopy bunny ears and little bunnies hanging onto her apron. I realized right then and there that this was the woman who made Easter happen. I looked at the jelly beans scrunched into her shag carpet (it was the seventies, good taste had yet to be discovered) and saw the desperation in her eyes.

…..And, Peter Rabbit?  Talk about a fraud. I discovered he was the front man who got the glory while she actually made the holiday happen.  He stopped by the bunny hutch to grab a bite to eat and fluff his tail before he hopped off to charm some more kids..

……..Charming?  There was nothing charming about Roberta’s   situation.  Her last comment in the interview was “this has got to change!”

…….And, change it did. It was ten years before I ventured back up the hill to the bunny hutch. I had been busy while working full-time in public relations at WVNCC, I had side jobs doing the ISU union  newspaper while producing fashion shows for the Fort Steuben Mall.  I had just been appointed to the Legislature and was embarking on my first political campaign.  I was excited, energized, but most all scared.  I was scared people would discover I had ended up where I was as a fluke.  It’s called “the imposter syndrome,” and many women of my era suffered from it.

……Roberta was just leaving the bunny hutch when I arrived.    She had the little bunnies in daycare now..   She was decked out in a power suit and had her ears curled. Instead of the Easter Basket she was carrying a briefcase.   She was running a thriving Public Relations Agency and now Peter was her client as was Santa and the Tooth Fairy and Mother Nature.  She had come a long way. But I detected a hard edge to Roberta. Her eyes were tired and her smile was forced.

……She looked at me and said “I’m running soooooo fast….just to stay in one place.” 

…….  Me, too, Roberta.  Me, too”

……..But I’m glad to tell you Roberta finally slowed down long enough to smell the roses.  Bunnies just like her and i  did crazy things like take over the men’s restroom in the State House cause the women’s was too far away to make a dash for it and make it back to vote. (We just put a sign on the door that said men on one side and women on the other……who would know it would create such a scandal.  )  I faced down the Union President who called me “Little Woman,”  and killed his premier legislation.   We all did things that pushed our boundaries and tore down our limitations.  We could now get a credit card and a mortgage and the glass ceiling had shattered to let a few through, be they scratched and bleeding.  And in the process we lost a gentler, kinder piece of ourselves.

…….Roberta’s retired now with the kids who survived her rebellion none the worse for the experience.  Her grandkids and great grandkids are aware that the merry-go-round of life holds whatever brass ring they may choose to grab onto.  There are no more limitations.

…..Roberta and I sat on the ledge outside the bunny hutch and looked at those little tykes and agreed.

…….“Yep,   They’re going to be somebunny!”