For the last couple of days, I’ve been hunting for a bear, a teddy bear. I found one online that I really like, but the shipping costs more than the bear. I’ve been calling around to shops and visiting others searching for a teddy bear.
I have found rabbits, elephants, cats, horses, dinosaurs, zebras, and several species of dogs, all in an assortment of colours and varying levels of plushness. I did find a polar bear, but it was a puppet. Among all of these insufficient semblances of teddy bears, there is a host of branded plush toys out there. It seems like every other toy is manufactured in conjunction with kids’ movies.
Whence is the humble teddy bear?
I should’ve known that this wouldn’t be an easy process. Single and childless, I walk through the world holding neither hand nor stroller nor diaper bag. My experience with children is regulated to working hours only. Except for that time I had to buy t-shirts for students so that we could make tie-dye t-shirts.
What is the difference between XS, 6-7, and 6+? How come boys XL is the same size as a men’s S? Why are boys and girls not on the same scale? What is 4x? Let me not begin on sizing by age determined in months.
In fact, don’t fuck me. The dangers are starting to feel too real.
My palms are sweating anxiously. These are not the hands you want passionately skipping moistly down the length of your back.
I’m happy to get my t-shirts, socks, and underwear in bulk when I go to Costco with my mom. I’m content with wearing button-up shirts that my dad purchased for me, having purchased the same shirt one size larger for himself. I’m cool with making an annual purchase of a single pair of pants when I visit my folks. I didn’t even buy a new pair of canvas shoes for myself this past spring, breaking with tradition.
I have a very clear idea of the teddy bear that I want to buy. I want it to look like a teddy bear. You know? A teddy bear that looks like what you picture when you think of a teddy bear; the Form of a teddy bear. If you close your eyes for only a moment and think, “teddy bear,” you’ll know what I’m thinking of.
Is it some shade of brown? Does it have a button nose and eyes? Is its body somewhat rotund? Does it have four fat, featureless paws?
I’ve had the same teddy bear for my entire life. I mean, since the day I was born.
When I left home at 18 to go to Turku, Finland, I foolishly whispered at the idea that I would leave my forever-nameless teddy bear at home. My father insisted that I bring him – perhaps nameless, but not genderless – with me, so I did. When I went to university in Montreal, I brought him with me. Here, in Toronto, and even during my year in Orillia, he is with me. At 33-years old, rather, 399-months old, I look for him every night before I go to sleep. About 13 years ago, I think, he was introduced to his life-companion, a floppy monkey my sister bought me with her first-ever paycheque.
I have, quite literally, torn off most of my teddy bear’s heart. Let’s not delve into the symbolism this cruel act of violence against a defenceless, lifeless, stuffed animal has in the story of my childhood. For now, know that all that remains is a small piece of worn red felt, left of the V. Still, I want to believe that he loves me. Heartlessly, he soldiers on.
Perhaps I should name him Nick Chopper or Tin Woodman. But, alas, he’s ne’er in search of what no longer remains. And, I’d have to be named Dorothy, for he follows me along the path I stumble upon, with ignorance and cowardice in our company.
My current search is not down a yellow brick road, and there are no tornadoes in sight. I’m not searching for a new heart for my teddy bear. The idea of replacing him is simply blasphemous.
This is not a fabled tale, but it is an entry in the diary of a man who is
hunting searching for a bear, a teddy bear for a child who is to be born soon, to loving, brilliant, and brave parents. How could any child not have a teddy bear to similarly love, teach, and protect?