The first time he told the story, I was shocked. He told it to his adviser and his wife. They adore rabbits. I was frozen; my ears were burning.
My childhood secret, the rabbit story, was told by him to everyone we met. Almost always in the first meeting. Strangers and acquaintances, friends and colleagues, it didn’t matter, he was a democratic storyteller. The rabbit story was an icebreaker for him; something he could count on to launch a friendlier conversation and with its strangeness, the rabbit story, insured a cool friendship with the audience. And why not, it was a good story with a natural suspense point and a needed complexity for a short narrative.
The rabbit story pronounced our confidence in our relationship. After all who would tell horrible embracing horror stories about his wife in her presence, unless the couple are so cool and well-matched. There was always a short pause before the audience started to laugh, and that was the moment I jumped in with my wide smile. The rabbit story also distinguished him from me in his ideal way: he gentle, normal, and loving, and me aggressive, abnormal, and demonic.
It never occurred to him that his rabbit story was my childhood secret. I never told him I hated to be the demonized rabbit killer.