The Velveteen Rabbit, or How To Become Real

As you may have surmised from my last couple of blog posts, or if you know me personally, I was 'let go' by my man-cub, about 3 months ago. He's a wonderful person, and I understand him not wanting to be with me, I mean, shit, I frequently don't want to be with me, but I'm stuck here. Still, it blows. To add insult to injury, I was invited to five - count 'em! FIVE weddings this late summer/fall. (I'm not sure what heinous deed I must have perpetrated in another life to engender this particular type of payback bitch-slap, but it must have been a doozy!) Four of them were dear friends of mine, one was a dear friend of his who is now a new friend of mine (but of course I let him have that wedding...I'm not a monster).

The first, my dear, darling friend Meg's, was a beautiful 4 day event starting with a BBQ and including a spectacular Wedding Eve dinner cruise on Lake Union and culminating in a sweet, simple and elegant ceremony outside in the 'back yard' of Cafe Juanita, with dinner inside afterward. The food was simply amazing. The bride was GORGEOUS and well, how many times can I say elegant before you say, "OK, elegant, elegant, we get it."

Next up was his friend Jennifer's wedding, and since I did not attend I can't give any first hand accounts, but according to posts on Facebook it was almost as  lovely as the bride herself.

Third in line was my dear, sweet, charming, kind and perfect-in-every-way friend Sarah (not to take away from any of my other friends, but well, Sarah IS perfect, and no one else on the planet is. Sorry. You are all FABULOUS and I love you but Sarah is special, as anyone who has ever known her will attest). The wedding weekend took place in Leavenworth at the splendid Sleeping Lady Lodge (she married a Sikh; there's no such thing as a small, modest, laid-back Sikh wedding. It was a freaking BLAST!!!!!!). I shared a cabin with my Favorite Cousin Lily* who was flown in from NY to photograph the nuptials (www.lilykesselman.com/) and all the surrounding activity. I have known Sarah since she was seven years old and I was on the wrong side of 30. We did not have a faux mother-daughter relationship, or an auntie-niece relationship, or a mentor-student relationship. We were friends, from the get-go. I know it sounds odd, but she was always wise beyond her years and I have always been immature and petty, so when she was seven we were a pretty good match! She was only a little more mature than I at that point. She finally met a man (Virtaj) who understands that he (likewise, I) are not worthy of her, and he vowed to spend the rest of his life trying to be deserving of her love. (We all heard you, Virtaj. There were like, 120 witnesses.) One of the readings, which I usually kind of hate and secretly roll my eyes over during all wedding ceremonies, was from The Velveteen Rabbit. Leave it to Sarah to find the one passage that could have made me cry, and to see past the child's nursery theme into what is at the core of the matter, which is of course, love. I want to share it with you, dear reader...

THERE once was a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen.

For a long time he lived in the toy cupboard or on the nursery floor, and no one thought very much about him. He was naturally shy, and being only made of velveteen, some of the more expensive toys quite snubbed him. The mechanical toys were very superior, and looked down upon everyone else; they were full of modern ideas, and pretended they were real. The model boat, who had lived through two seasons and lost most of his paint, caught the tone from them and never missed an opportunity of referring to his rigging in technical terms. The Rabbit could not claim to be a model of anything, for he didn't know that real rabbits existed; he thought they were all stuffed with sawdust like himself, and he understood that sawdust was quite out-of-date and should never be mentioned in modern circles. Even Timothy, the jointed wooden lion, who was made by disabled soldiers, and should have had broader views, put on airs and pretended he was connected to the Government. Between them all the poor little Rabbit was made to feel himself very insignificant and commonplace, and the only person who was kind to him at all was the Skin Horse.

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive and boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those play things that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But those things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

That passage gets to me in so many ways, on so many levels, not the least of which is the disturbing term "Skin Horse". What the fuck is that? Anyway, "Does it hurt?" Hell yes. I wish I didn't mind it so much, but I will take it over the alternative. I'm pretty sure I don't break easily, or have to be too carefully kept, but I prolly have one or two or 18 sharp edges. Working on that.

The fourth one was Genevieve and Peter's wedding, this past weekend on San Juan Island. They are a lovely, delightful couple, and well-matched in every way. She is particularly beautiful but more importantly, wickedly funny. I arrived solo (as usual) and was instantly set-upon by a youngish man I know who accosted me and said, "Hey Kate are you still dating that cool musician guy, D_____?" "Ummm, no, no I'm not", I replied. "Oh. That's too bad. I really like him", said he. "Yeah, me too. Thanks for bringing that up. Here. Now. In front of everyone. At a wedding." Asshole. OK, to be fair, this guy is definitely NOT an asshole, but I have been in a really bad mood now for like 3+ months and I'm getting a little short tempered. (OK, fine: more short tempered than usual) Anyway, this darling young woman I know sidles up to me as I'm standing awkwardly, alone, at yet another fucking wedding reception and asks if I perchance know the man with the dark curly hair I was just speaking with and if I know whether or not he is single. I answer affirmatively and then I decide to be the bigger person and introduce them, and then I decide to become somewhat officious and meddlesome (OK, fine: more officious and meddlesome than usual) and arrange the place cards so they are sitting across from each other at dinner. Well, the rest, as they say, is history because he asked her out and they had their first date the next night and their second is coming up. So I guess you can add "match-making" to my skill-set!

The fifth and final wedding is being held at the end of the month in Hawaii, and I won't be able to attend. Too far away, too much money, and this time I'd be stuck on an island thousands of miles away at a wedding, all by myself, with no one to talk to or hang out with. Sorry, even I am not that much of a glutton for punishment. I adore Kristi, but I just. can't. do it. Forgive me, Kristi! I'll send a nice gift!

*I'm contractually obligated to call her Favorite Cousin Lily. Don't get your panties in a bunch, all hundreds of other cousins!!! See the August 2011 post for more information on Favorite Cousin Lily.


  1. A response to my beautiful butterfly Kate: A quote someone else (unknown source) because I have no words of my own (further evidence of my imperfection).

    "Butterflies can’t see their wings. They can’t see how truly beautiful they are, but everyone else can. People are like that as well."

  2. Thank you, you are proving my point about how wonderful you are.