I Was Infatuated With a Cartoon Character
Jessica Rabbit, Leela, Bart's babysitter from The Simpsons; it was like the artists all knew how lovesick and lonely their audience would be.
BY JEREMY GLASS
The purest love I’ve ever felt was for a cartoon rabbit named Babs Bunny from Tiny Toon Adventures. Oh, If only I could return to the age where the perfect woman was a hand-drawn bunny. I was probably four or five years old when I discovered my feelings, but I lacked the ability to properly understand the concept of love. I knew what I felt in my heart was true and I knew that I wanted to be with her, but I couldn’t exactly grasp that I couldn’t. I knew even less how to express these particular feelings. I couldn’t buy her flowers, because I had no money. I couldn’t write her a letter, because my vocabulary was limited. And I couldn’t call her on the phone, because she wasn’t real. Also, I wasn’t allowed on the phone.
My infatuation would end up being mirrored time and time again in my adult life, because of the attached feelings of frustration, anxiety, and old fashioned sadness. I wouldn’t have known what to do with Babs had she been a real person. I would’ve been too shy to tell her that I admired her sense of humor and casual-yet-sexy fashion sense. I would have told her that I wanted to spend every night stroking her ears and singing songs. Instead, I did the only thing I knew how to do: I expressed my love through imitation.
I don’t exactly remember how I came to the conclusion that dressing like Babs Bunny would bring her closer to me, but at my age, it made the most sense. I distinctly remember the look on my mom’s face when I told her I wanted purple shorts so I could make them into a purple skirt. My older brother always drew little pink ribbons on the bunny ears he would help me cut from paper. My grandpa would always ask me if I was a rabbit, to which I’d always reply that I was a bunny. So, I would wear the ears and the shorts, throw on a yellow sweater, and in doing so, felt as close to Babs as I possibly could.
If only I had the proper vocabulary skills to sit everyone down and properly explain my infatuation. I would have told everybody how my heart burst every time Babs broke into song, how her little quips and catch phrases sent me into an elated euphoric trance, and how sad I got knowing that she could never be real/mine. I guess I really can’t tell you why I was so transfixed on this fictional character. Even the girls I would find myself crushing on after the fact weren't that different from Babs Bunny. They were usually small and quiet with bad eyesight.
I don’t remember how I got over my infatuation, but I do recall it happening very suddenly, like the end of a rain squall. One minute I was obsessed, and then, as if nothing had ever happened, I was a normal kid playing with Matchbox cars and Gak. It’s so odd looking back on this cartoon. A fictional thing, not even human, who I devoted so much of my heart towards. I get sad when I think about her—because I never could have had her. But how could you forget someone so frustratingly out-of-reach?
Nowadays, when you like someone, there’s always a chance. You ask them out on a date, you get to at least hold their hand. But the thing I loved so dearly was nothing more than a drawing, reproduced in hundreds of thousands of frames. I know I'm not the only one to have complicated feelings for a cartoon character. Jessica Rabbit, Leela, Bart's babysitter from The Simpsons; it was like the artists all knew how lovesick and lonely their audience would be. I guess that's what it is…we are what we create. Did the yearning for a perfect woman create the perfect cartoon, or have we just been taught that our soul mates should have the same characteristics as a fictional being?
Part of me will always consider Babs my first true love and, even thinking about her now, it feels like how I’d think about an ex-girlfriend. Which is odd to think about, odd to write, and the most odd to admit. I often wonder how many other people felt what I felt and if I’m lucky to have experienced such heartbreak at an early age—if you could even call what I went through heartbreak. I mean, how do you tell your friends that the first girl you ever loved wasn’t even real? At the same time, I knew there was some triumph in getting over Babs. I had grown up just a tiny bit by realizing I had to keep my love interests strictly non-fictional. I would realize how I had grown-up when I fell head over light-up-heels in love with this blonde girl named Patty. She had pigtails and always let me borrow her pencil. I think she either died or moved to Texas. I’m just kidding, she moved.
I haven’t watched Tiny Toon Adventures since I was a kid and genuinely don’t know how I’d react if I were to hear Babs’ squeaky voice over the stereo. I don’t know. All I can say is that my obsession with cartoon bunnies ceased to be a thing until Space Jam came out.
Jeremy Glass' Internet: www.candyandpizza.com
Jeremy Glass' Twitter: @candyandpizza