Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Teddy Bear Confessionals

In light of the release of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, I thought I'd make my own confessions about my own stuffed animals. (Check out this WaPo article on this historic strip.)

I confess: I have more stuffed animals than any 30-something man should own. In my defense: I acquired the vast majority of them before my 18th birthday.

It started off simply enough: I was a child and I liked the way they felt.

But then the collection continued to grow, well into young adulthood. I never actually spent paycheck dollars to purchase stuffed animals, mind you; however, I have been known to spend earned cash at carnivals playing games with the intent of winning cute new stuffed animals.

Most of my animals have personalities. Strangely, some have personalities I would never tolerate from real people in my life.

Two animals -- a bear and an elephant -- share my bed with me to this day. Each of them is over 20 years old. The elephant's name is Simon; the bear's, John-John (not named after JFK, Jr.). Neither of these names is pronounced in any way near what they look like. They talk to me. Usually in bed. They usually say stuff to the effect of "Stop thinking and just go to sleep!" and "It's late, and you have to get up early in the morning!" They're such nags.

Simon is a nice, polite, friendly animal, pretty much to a fault. John-John is rather rude and obnoxious and unnecessarily picks on Simon frequently. (Simon tends not to respond in kind.) They fight all the time, but then they sleep in the same corner together. Both of them hate it when I fall asleep with one of them in my arms, because inevitably he ends up on the ground and/or with a smooshed nose. At the same time, though, they both get jealous if they're not the one in my arms while the other one is. (It's kinda sweet and demented at the same time.)

They also get a little peeved when someone sleeps over. Of course, that hasn't happened in eons, so they've been content for quite a bit.

One other bear I have is creatively named "Scottish Bear." I won him from my high school carnival in my junior year. His oh-so-appropriate name derives from the fact that my brother and I (my brother being 19 by that time) thought his red-and-blue check sweater and matching golf cap thought he looked rather Scottish, in an odd Sean-Connery-on-a-golf-course kinda way.

The same year that I won Scottish Bear, I also one the most adorable white stuffed dog. He was immensely soft and plush and had the cutest nose and grin. I fell in love with him instantly, and -- don't tell my other animals -- he quickly became my favorite. I named him "Barney," most decidedly not after the obnoxious purple dinosaur. (This was well before the dinosaur came into existence.) More about him in a few paragraphs.

One bear I particularly miss -- he was eventually discarded because a ginormous hole had started forming in his neck -- was named "QT Pooh." A most well-deserved name, because he was, in fact, one of the cutest bears I have ever owned. The problem is, he knew he was cute, and so was rather ill-mannered because he knew he could get away with it just by saying "I'm so cute!" -- and he was.

When I went away for college, I left my stuffed animals behind. (Who was going to pack all of them? Besides, what 17-year-old boy shows up at college with all his teddy bears in tow?) My parents then made continuous threats that they were going to throw them all out, claiming that I had undoubtedly outgrown it. (So not the case.) Once, my brother sent me a letter (paper, pen, envelope and stamp!) telling me that they had finally made good on the threat, and that my beloved animals were gone, "kaput." (His word.) This actually brought me to hysterical tears in my dorm room until I got to the end of the letter, which advised that it was just a joke. I tore him a new asshole on the phone immediately thereafter, with him laughing said ass off the entire time.

Not to say that all my stuffed animals survived my absence. I came home from college one year to find that Barney was no longer sitting where he should have been. Neither my parents nor my brother could adequately account for his whereabouts -- a particularly disturbing turn of events given the letter my brother had sent. My last best information is that some four-year-old rugrat came by to visit my family, helped himself to Barney around the house, and was oh-so-generously told by my parents to just keep him. To this day, when I go home and we visit people who have kids of about the right age, I raid their rooms in search of Barney.

In order to finally remove the ever-present cloud of imminent death my beloved stuffed animals, I waited one afternoon while my parents were out of the house, found myself a good box, shoved all my animals in it, and sent all my animals to my college address. Because no one would ever toss out my animals without my say-so.

They now sit on a shelf in my bedroom, a happy brood. Though mostly collecting dust.

There you have it. A rare glimpse into my inner strangeness.

1 comment:

sirbarrett said...

Interesting to hear your bears histories. When I was a child, my baby-sitter abducted my furry friend and told me he had been eaten by a wolf. As a result, I grew up fearing wolves, having nightmares and imagining that they could climb walls and come in my window at night. I suppose I've turned out ok not to have that fear anymore.