When I was born, a good friend of my Mother’s gave me a Teddy Bear. It was one of a large set of bears that she had. I, originally and creatively named him, “Teddy”.
Teddy and I invented the term “BFF”, we were like two peas in a pod, like Laverne and Shirley, like Chick A and Chick E. Wherever I went, Teddy went. Wherever Teddy went, I cried, because if Teddy went somewhere, he was lost and that made me very sad.
Throughout my childhood years, I was somewhat (very) afraid of the darkness. This fear continued until….my mid to late thirties….so, as a child, I slept with a nightlight. (As an adult, I just sleep with a man next to me who has a bat under the bed….) So, I’m assuming that in the early to mid-1980’s nightlights hadn’t progressed very far in the “safety” arenas…because one night, when I was about, 9 or 10 years old, I’d guess, while sleeping in the bottom part of my bunk beds (I was also scared of heights) I awoke to a very bad smell. The smell of something burning. I looked around, where was that bad smell coming from? I looked over and my trusty nightlight wasn’t glowing bright, it was covered up by something. It was covered up by…..Teddy.
I leaped over to grab Teddy off of the burning light bulb. And his belly was all a smoldering away. There was a huge hole and burning fur and blackness. I ran down through the dining room, the kitchen, around the corner and downstairs to my parents bedroom.
“Mum!! Dad!! Teddy is on fire!!! Teddy’s been burned!” They kinda shift in bed a little and make some kind of grunting/half talking noises. I shake them in their blankets. “Wake Up!!” I’m also crying hysterically. My Dad who had a very busy job and a long commute every day of his life, got out of bed, still half asleep and came over to me, took Teddy and walked up the stairs and around the corner to the kitchen…as I followed….crying…
He walked over to the kitchen sink, turned on the faucet and ran Teddy under it. How is my Dad going to save Teddy, I wondered?? I knew he’d save him, but how??? My Dad shut off the water and turned, around the corner, past the living room, out to the front door hallway…out the front door, into the driveway, around the cars and up to the dumpsters….he opened the large, bungy-corded garbage cans (best way to stump a raccoon) and put Teddy inside…and turned back around and escorted me back to bed.
Kinda like this, but also nothing like this.
I can’t remember what happened after this, in bed. I think I have suppressed it to the deepest levels of my being. My best friend was in the dumpster outside. How was I going to recover from this?
My Mother’s good friend, who had originally given me the bear, like I said, my bear came from a large collection of matching bears that she had in all different sizes. She had little tiny bears up to this HUGE bear that was bigger than Jabba the Hutt. And she had one that was the exact size of my Teddy. So, so kindly, she gave it to me, to try to make up for my loss. I forgot to mention that over the around 10 years I had Teddy in my life, he had lost quite a bit of fur and one of his eyes. So, when I got Teddy the 2nd home, I quickly started in on removing some fur and ripping off an eye…but as much as I tore him apart, he couldn’t compare to my first good friend.
About a week later, my Mother told me that she’d take me to Kellerhaus. This place is probably the closest thing a child will ever get to visiting Charlie’s Chocolate Factory. Just no Gene Wilder and scary theme songs. Just candy up the wazoo, an enormous make your own sundae bar and toys galore. (Including a large selection of Teddy Bears)
A couple weekends after my night of night light horror, my Mother, as she promised took me to Kellerhaus, where not only did I have a disgustingly goopey sundae, but I got to pick out any bear I wanted.
There she was, red and white striped nightgown and cap, dark brown, she was beautiful….and she was mine….and her given name, I wouldn’t change, she was born with this name, so I would accept it. Her name was Debbie.
Kinda like this, but also nothing like this.
Debbie truly softened the blow from the enormous loss of Teddy. I never forgot about Teddy and all the good times (and one bad time) we had together. Debbie traveled with me to summer camp, to college, to my move to Florida to work at Walt Disney World (read about that here) and back to New England.
And maybe you’re reading this, booing my Dad for not coming up with some clever plan to save my Original friend, but he was a tired guy who had undiagnosed sleep-apnea at the time, so I forgive him. Plus, I was a total pain in the ass kid. 😉
To this day, Debbie lives in a corner of my bedroom. Her red and white striped nightgown and cap, long gone into shreds of fabric…now she changes seasonally between a beachy, crab t-shirt and a Blake’s Turkey Farm vintage tee.
Teddy and Debbie. Two great friends who got me through a lot. As I’m typing this, I’m shaking my head knowing that people that know me, that are reading this, are going to make SO much fun of me….and people that are reading this and don’t know me are going to question why the hell they are following this blog…
Listen, if you have or have had an inanimate friend like Teddy or Debbie, comment below…if you just think I’m insane, you could probably just keep that to yourself…
Heart you, heart you Debbie. Miss you Teddy. I forgive you Dad. 🙂