I am 32 years old, but I am still changing. People told me I would never change. Those people are sort of right. The problem is that people only want me to change for them. Like it’s easy. Like I can just put on a new shirt and be not afraid of myself anymore. I mean I’m not entirely afraid of myself. Actually I’m pretty comfortable but it’s other people that find stuff out about me and they try to make me feel bad.
I live in New York. I have a career. I am a financial advisor, but I prefer the term, “wealth management advisor.” I think people are afraid to talk about wealth. I think too many people think wealth is a bad thing. I think my job description should remind people that wealth exists. That the wealthy exist. I am wealthy. I help people. I am here to help people become more wealthy.
I am a Roman column.
I have a secretary named Fluffy Bunny. Fluffy Bunny does whatever I ask her to. If I tell her to lick my smile, she licks my smile. If I tell her to fall in love with me, she falls in love with me. Sometimes I lock her office door and put a Paul McCartney CD in the wall stereo. Whenever Paul’s “Temporary Secretary” plays, I roll up my sleeves and I hit Fluffy Bunny. She has to smile as I hit her. If she stops smiling, we have to start the song over. If she makes it through the song smiling, I give her a hug and I unlock her door.
People don’t know about Fluffy Bunny. If they did, they would be mad. They don’t understand that Fluffy Bunny isn’t mad because I tell Fluffy Bunny not to be mad. Fluffy Bunny thought she was smarter than me when she started working for me. She would tell me that I was a bad person—that she feared that I would never become aware of my privileged state of being within the realm of white Christian male heteronormativity.
That’s when I started locking her in her office.
People don’t know about Fluffy Bunny. But God does. God is my bearded ghost. And I know as long as I acknowledge the bad things I do to Fluffy Bunny, God will forgive me. All I have to do is ask. And then I hear him in my head say, you are forgiven. And that means I won’t go to hell. People don’t know about Fluffy Bunny. People only ever want to talk about my other problem that I don’t think is a problem or anybody’s business. People are concerned about the way I act when I am alone in my house.
When I wake up in the morning, I like to lie in my crib for at least twenty minutes before climbing out of it. It’s a really big crib. I like to make funny noises and rest my hand against my chest and feel my own heartbeat. If I don’t make any sounds and listen really closely, I hear my heart make a do-do-do sound. Like a dial tone. I like to rock gently from side to side and pull my knees into my stomach tightly. I like to play with my colorful firefly nightlight that hangs from the side of my crib. All I have to do is knock my fingers against it and the fireflies light up and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” plays.
But what I like most of all is my Fluffy Bunny stuffed animal. I like its long ears. I like its pink nose.
Sometimes my diaper has to be changed. I cannot change it by myself. That is why I hired a nanny to take care of me at home. I pay her thousands of dollars a week to change my diaper. She is very strong and I like the way she cradles me in her arms. She rocks me. She feeds me my bottle. She sings me lullabies. And when I have an accident, she changes me. She wipes me.
I like the feeling of Fluffy Bunny’s nose against mine. I kiss Fluffy Bunny over and over and over again while I rock gently in my crib. I like thinking about her body.
I like to make Fluffy Bunny open the blinds in my office so I can look down into the streets. Me and my co-workers like to refer to the streets as “the valley of the dead.” We like to watch the protestors yell and shake their fists. Most of them don’t even know what they’re yelling about. They were in such a hurry to grow up. They just wanted people to think they were important. Too bad they don’t know about me. They don’t know my secret: you don’t have to grow up.
You don’t have to live in “the valley of the dead.”
I stretch my arms and legs out as far as my crib will let me. I like when I’m in the crib because things don’t have to make sense. There is no “like” or “dislike.” It’s all feelings and smiles. Colors. I don’t have to think at all.
Fluffy Bunny sometimes cries in my arms. It makes it hard to sleep. So I squeeze Fluffy Bunny really hard and whisper, I hug you Fluffy Bunny because you are the best bunny.
Then I feel good. Then I know I am not afraid of myself and that I am a good person.
Paul Cunningham is the author of two e-chapbooks of poetry: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Pangur Ban Party, 2010) and foamghast (NAP Magazine, 2012). He is the founding editor of Radioactive Moat Press and his writing has appeared in publications like Esque Magazine, DIAGRAM, The Monongahela Review, H_NGM_N, Red Lightbulbs, and LIES/ISLE.