Rabbit started university after a year out. It should have been a year out travelling but Rabbit screwed up his grades while learning new card games, discovering the wonders of alcohol and disappearing out of the school window to head for the local bowling alley. During lesson times. Rabbit had lots of friends but his academic record wouldn’t pull anything out of any hats.
Rabbit realised it was time to pellet or bust.
Work loomed nigh and work was a bad word. Work certainly didn’t seem like a good idea. There was only one thing to do to get a grant aided place at a top state-subsidised establishment and spend three years ostensibly studying while out partying to all hours at something other than Her Majesty’s pleasure. Yes, only one thing to do if Mr and Mrs Rabbit were going to cough up their share of the grant money. Rabbit buried his indifference at the back of his burrow and cried the tears of a good green crocodile when his parents discovered his results.
They fell for it.
Really, Rabbit was smart enough to know that on a balance of probabilities they’d rather buy that than the fact Rabbit was a champion slacker who had the potential for anything and all the drive of a clockwork monkey setting out on the foothills of Everest. Why would they buy it? Because no one in Rabbit’s family had ever been to university before. Ever. At least one of Rabbits parents was possessed of a middle class snobbish pretention and the other was smart enough to know his son would do better with a degree. So they bought it and paid for it.
Except a few things happened.
Firstly, Rabbit didn’t go back to school straightaway. Rabbit went to a college of further education to get his grades and the major thing that impressed him was that the teachers treated him as an adult. This was a revelation. School still treated him as a kid. Here he was respected as a person from day one. He could succeed or fail. It was up to him. There was no pressure and there were very few rules. Rabbit thrived. Well, with the exception of mathmatics when Rabbit went to the pub, Rabbit thrived. And even then.
The next thing followed this growing maturity. Rabbit began to realise most of his school friends were very immature and actually not real friends at all for the most part. Rabbit wasn’t called Rabbit but they all called him that and Rabbit could feel it pulling him down to their level. They needed him to be small so they could appear large. Rabbit had to cut loose.
So Rabbit got smart. Rabbit still got drunk a few times and sat under tables at parties but no one minded. Along the way Rabbit started losing some of the ne’er do wells and there were no more tears shed. Well except over the love of Rabbit’s life who wasn’t having any of it at age 18 because she didn’t love him and couldn’t they just be friends? Papa Rabbit had clearly missed out on some of his son’s education somewhere along the line because Rabbit said yes. Oh, yes. Let’s just be friends while my heart breaks. Rabbit’s life was a Billy Bragg song yet to be written in the sand for the tide to wash clean.
Still for a whole year Rabbit applied himself to his studies–a small price to pay for the forthcoming three year vacation coming up–and he got the grades needed for a top university. And off he went. And there he learned Rabbit Tricks.
Because, you see, Rabbit learned from the girl who became his best friend and confidante, that life is all about people. People are the only game in town. Engage them. Romance them. Discover them and let them discover you while you each discover yourselves. Rabbit made lots of new friends. It was a trip. Rabbit came home for vacations to realise he was passing those old school buddies at lightspeed and so he went back to uni–which the trendy called college to play down how smart they all were–and he started his second year.
And in that second year Rabbit learned the next part of the trick, which was no trick really but life biting him on the tushy. The friends you make in the first year are nearly all the same kind you had at school. You fill up the gaps. So in the second year Rabbit did what everyone else had told him would happen, he dropped the friends of the first year. And on into the third year he made new friends. Real Friends. Close Friends. The best.
Then a strange thing happened. Rabbit finished college. It was totally unexpected. No job. No plan. Just a degree and no money. Not enough to buy a portion of chips with peas and gravy. Well just about. Rabbit realised Rabbit was going to have to work for a living, at last, and after swallowing the shock of it, Rabbit followed his academic preparation and finally studied up at the last minute on what to do. Then Rabbit went and did it and–although there was a stint working in a bun factory for a few months until some of the loans were paid off–it went exceedingly well.
Years passed and Rabbit’s career moved roughly in the direction he aimed it and meanwhile the last piece of the Rabbit Tricks fell into place. You see, Rabbit had distanced the school friends and lost the first year surrogates. But then Rabbit had gradually lost touch with the Real Friends too. Marriage. Distance. Work. One by one events had conspired to take them away and at last Rabbit was left with only a few, those whom he considered his closest friends (which actually included two from school).
The final part, however, was strange. For in those three years at college there had been those he openly loudmouth abused and who abused him back. There were enough potential buddies around that some verbal vitriol didn’t hurt here and there. Rabbit hacked people off. And Rabbit got hacked off too.
Yet Rabbit sits at the computer today and Rabbit reflects that there is one person who he would do a favour for from college and who he knows would always put him up in his home and sort out his problems, feed him and provide the all-important beer and sympathy. Or laughter. One person from college still sent Rabbit a Christmas card this year.
Rabbit smiles because it’s one of the first people he insulted and who gave as good as he got for the whole time they shared a flat with an assortment of geeks weirdos and some normal looking chainsmoking medical students. Today two characters can say anything to each other and sometimes they do. It’s water off a duck’s back. They can cut the crap and get to the truth and talk about it and, what’s still important, laugh. Or they don’t talk and nothing is lost either way, although often a smile and some reassurance is gained.
Rabbit Tricks. Speak your mind. That simple. Speak your mind. Only if you do will you discover who’s real and who’s not. It’s a trick that doesn’t work if it’s not honest–it’s not deception in that sense because it’s not really a confidence trick. It’s more a commonsense magical thing because when it works, you find some solid people, some of them more than worthy of being called Friends.
Along with all the rest of you, of course.