Long long ago while I was still attached to my second ex wife to be, I started a teddy bear collection. You wouldn't think of a big scary testosterony man to like teddies, but the fact is I love almost everything in miniature.
It began with an antique, more a rag
doll than a fuzz bucket. He looked sad sitting on the serpentine
armoire, as if he knew he was out of his class atop cherrywood and
polished brass, and just wanted to be any ordinary place but there. I
empathized. I could relate. I named him Buddy. I'd needed one at that
moment. He approved, and consented to leave the facility under my care.
course it wasn't long before living at my house wasn't enough for him
either. He became lonely and sullen. He needed a partner; a chick I
figured, though I wasn't entirely sure he was a he to begin with. But
then by the 80s, that hardly mattered anymore.
I found Hilda in a
northwoods craft shop. She wore a gingham dress, but she had a cute
face so I couldn't hold her bad taste in clothing against her. Her
little arm was just barely long enough to get around half of Buddy's
back, but once I'd positioned her there, I swear I saw Buddy grin. Later
that day I overheard them talking "A little to the left" Buddy said.
"Hey, I'm not your personal back scratcher" Hilda replied. They sounded
like my parents. I knew they'd be ok.
Later that year I found
Larry, Moe and Curly at a toy store, Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice in a
Goodwill shop. I purchased non branded bears in the main, but I did add a
dozen or so Steiffs. I only knew of them because for a few years I'd
bought my sister Royal Doulton figurines for Christmas, and once you're
within range of the upper crust, they infect you with the names of all
their overpriced pleasures.
By the end of my tenure as King's
Ursikeeper I had near 50 in all, the largest about 20 inches tall, and
the smallest sized to fit on the eraser of a pencil, whose name of
course was Thumbearlina. They all shared a space atop an antique
washtable in my foyer. And then as always, I lost them all.
wife to be, finally was, and chose as a portion of her parting gifts,
the entire collection of bears. I'm not sure which collection I lost
grated me more, the bears, the china, the hunting lithographs, the
crystal... but I do know once the bears had fled, I could no longer
enjoy a chat with myself (as me and a bear) in the foyer, I no longer
had a reason to smile at inanimate objects and wave hello, I no longer
had a Buddy.
I'd show you a picture of the gang, but in my zeal
to peck my own eyes out, I stuffed all the photographs taken over the
five years together with the wife who never was into a box or six that I
knew were about to exit the house. A foolish thing for certain, but on a
scale of one to ten, ten being the suicide I'd contemplated, it seemed a
one or two, so I long ago forgave myself.
For better than a
decade I had no association with bears; nor pillow snakes nor little
lambs nor wind up barking stuffed dogs. I did have a six foot creature
named Oiseau, but he was more a scary op-artwork than a stuffed toy and
was given me by a girlfriend who told my parents in casual conversation
she was dealing cocaine at the time, so he doesn't count.
years ago my current wife who's possibly everlasting bought me a bear.
He's a biker bear, like me. I tied him to the rack atop my motorcycle
trunk and we go everywhere together. He watches my back you see; and I
protect his, as it should be. His name's Bubba. Closer to when I die,
I'm thinking of sending him to live with the ex wife who never was, so
he can meet his many brothers and sisters; presuming they weren't only
taken for spite and dumped in a garbage bin somewhere. I'll have to hope
they weren't, and I swear, I'll never tel Bubba of that possibility.
He's so excited he may one day have a giant family, I don't want to
burst his balloon.