queen of the buns


Rounding the corner on our street, shuttling Chaucer between shady spots in the afternoon heat, we were stopped by a woman from our generation but probably not our tax bracket. "Do either of you happen to speak French?" She wore a white lace minidress, heels, and matte red lipstick. One hand rested on her hip; the other held a cell phone angled away from her body as if annoyed with it.

"Yeah, actually," I replied, surprised.

"Like, fluently?" She seemed skeptical.

"Yep." Terence sounded more cautious than enthusiastic, but he took a step forward to offer his help.

The woman was hosting a foreign exchange student due to arrive any minute. She wanted to let the girl know there'd be an Uber waiting for her at the terminal, which would take her to the agreed-upon meeting place, a busy and popular restaurant downtown. She didn't speak any French, though, and needed someone who did to call the student and convey this information.

While Terence left a detailed voicemail, Chaucer sniffed the hem of the woman's dress and I inwardly wondered what kind of host wouldn't greet her internationally traveling guest at the airport herself. "What are the chances?" I mused politely, referring to the good luck of happening upon a Francophone and his Francophony girlfriend.

The woman fidgeted with an ankle strap, preoccupied. "Yeah." She bit off her words, upspeaking slightly. "I really appreciate it."

Terence ended the message wishing the student good luck and handed the woman back her cell phone. I guided Chaucer back around her legs and the four of us parted ways.


Terence and I swung by a party supply store on our way to get groceries. We wanted to grab some glow sticks and cheap bead necklaces for an upcoming festival. Once inside, however, we lost focus. We walked the aisles slowly, goofing around, distracted by all the silly toys and costumes. I bounced a pink rubber ball over to Terence. "Heads up!"

"Ooh. Should we get this for Chauc?"

"Nah, he'll eat it."

A bin filled with party favors marked .35 cents caught my eye. I picked up a tiny silver plastic tiara attached to a hair comb and set it on my head. "What if I wore this during sex?" I moved my hips exaggeratedly.

"Oh my god. Yes. That's amazing." He took the toy from me. "You have to get it."

"So ridiculous," I laughed. But he didn't put it back.

Back in the car we ate foil-wrapped Rolos and cherry Jolly Ranchers from the fifteen-for-a-buck bin. I flipped down the car visor mirror and carefully pushed the comb into my hair. "Ta-da!"

"Yes! I love it so much. You look like a Disney princess, you have no idea."

"Oh god." I cringed, shaking the comb back out.

After grocery shopping we stopped at the PetCo down the street from Whole Foods, to see the bunnies up for adoption. We're not looking to get any; it's just something we do occasionally just for the cute of it.

We knelt by the glass cage at the front of the store and peered in. Two massive adult rabbits - one white, one orange - were inside nibbling greens. There was a placard on the glass describing the bunnies' background and relationship to one another. I started reading the card aloud, enunciating in my best elevated-pitch storytelling voice. The rabbits - named Mary Jane and Leap - were apparently a bonded pair, and had a history of being moved from foster home to foster home - though never separated.

As I was dramatizing their romantic tale of bunny love, a man entered the store, walked directly to the rabbit cage, and crouched down beside us. As he seemed to be another rabbit lover, I kept on reading out loud.

A moment later I noticed Terence had stopped looking at the rabbits and was smiling hard at me. "Baby," he said in a quiet tone. Assuming he was trying to let me know that another customer had joined us, I ignored him. "What?" I said loudly, before continuing. "It's a Tale of Two Bunnies." After I'd finished reading the information I sighed. "They're so gorgeous." Glancing at the other shopper I added pointedly, "They live as long as dogs. Most people don't realize what a commitment they are."

The man nodded seriously, addressing us with his reply. "Really smart, too. Great pets."

Terence and I stood up and started towards the dog toy section. "Baby," he repeated softly, touching my elbow. I turned and saw his face flushed with suppressed laughter. "Your head." I frowned, reaching up to touch my hair, suddenly realizing.

I was wearing the tiara. I'd put it back on in the car after leaving Whole Foods. I'd been wearing it for my entire performance by the rabbit cage. The stranger we'd shared a moment of bunny love with must have thought me crazy. The loopy lady who wears a child's toy crown to go around to pet stores and advocate for the animals like some kind of daft, self-appointed Queen of The Buns.

I somehow managed to lose the crown between PetCo and home, which is a bummer. But the good news is, I know where to find a replacement. And now I know where to wear it, too.