our most valuable and precious
by Miss What's-Your-Name-Again?
I am so, so very sorry that we lost Puppy today. The incident occurred somewhere within a flurry of frenetic activity preceded by the following: my recognition that (1) the bench on which we had been sitting together was suddenly warm, (2) that it reminded me of the heated seats in my dad’s Yukon, (3) that my mother always complained that heated seats felt like you had peed your pants… and, finally, (4) that you had peed your pants, and the entire bench, and, as a result, my pants too. And then there was the rush to change you out of your clothes, and the lap I made around school to complain to every single adult I could find that now my pants were peed on too and, unfortunately, my mother hadn’t packed ME an additional set of pants, in the desperate hope that someone would tell me to go home (should it not be a rule that, if you get PEED ON, you get to FUCKING GO HOME?!) … well, somewhere in there, we left Puppy on the bench. And Puppy got jacked.
I searched the entire goddamn preschool. And when I say searched, I interrupted every class to announce that we were missing Puppy. I got down on my hands and knees and crawled around the playground, looking for Puppy-sized hidey-holes. I dug in the motherfucking sandbox (if I get ringworm, I’m quitting.) I OPENED THE COMPOST BIN. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW FUCKING TERRIFYING IT IS IN THERE? Puppy had simply vanished, Gone Girl-style. I was just about five seconds away from barging once again into every classroom and ordering every child in the school to EMPTY THEIR MOTHERFUCKING CUBBIES OR BE TURNED OVER TO THE AUTHORITIES FOR OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE but then your mother came to pick you up, her face blanching at the news, whisking you home where she hoped to pass off “backup Puppy” as the real deal.
I so doggedly searched for Puppy (oh, and I will find her, mark my words, and the culprit will face the full weight of the law of… someone who isn’t me) because I understand the importance of your stuffed animal. I, too, had a stuffed animal on which my entire wellbeing depended. He was a bear named Teddy (in true matters of the heart, sometimes simplicity trumps creativity.) He was intended for my newborn baby brother; there is even a picture my guilty hand, caught in the act of snagging him out of my brother’s crib. As early as I can remember, Teddy slept in the crook of my arm. I was so accustomed to him being there, that I could not sleep without him. I forgot him once, on a sleepover, and spent the night wide awake with my sweatshirt crammed into my arm, trying in vain to mimic his comforting weight. But it was no use; Teddy was infused with some sort of homespun, childhood magic; ours was an unbreakable, enigmatic, timeless bond that happens between children and that one, very special talisman they claim for their own.
So, naturally, as you do Puppy, I took Teddy everywhere, including on trips. My mother would remind me not to leave Teddy in my bed at a hotel, because housekeeping might just accidentally gather him up in the sheets and take him when they changed the linens. As a safeguard, I would lock him in the safe every day, my most valuable and precious possession, a little yellow bear with a shredded, worn bib on which used to be a tiny embroidered bumblebee, now just some needle holes where the thread had long worn away.
As you might have predicted, this worked well until the one day I forgot to take Teddy out of my bed. You can imagine my horror, the panic, searching under and around the bed, scouring the hotel room, checking the safe over and over again. It was hard enough to be away from the comfort of home; it was almost unbearable to consider that I might have lost my most valuable and precious possession in a strange place. I remember going to concierge, it was late, maybe midnight, in tears. Explaining over and over again, to a number of different staffers, that it was a small bear, it was important to me, I even made up some story about how a long-deceased and beloved relative had given it to me (I thought perhaps it sounded better than that I had lifted it off my unsuspecting infant brother.) Finally, after the very nice gentleman in guest services conducted a hushed conversation on the phone that I couldn’t understand, my heart pounding, a man came down the hallway with a small plastic grocery bag in his hand. And in that bag was Teddy, freshly laundered, frayed little bib with no stitching, grandest bear in the entire world. I burst into tears and hugged everyone in the lobby, to mixed reaction, and then went back to my room. … Perhaps, in retrospect, it came off a little odd, in a luxury resort in South Africa, to be hugged by a semi-hysterical 30 year old woman in pajamas, clutching the shittiest little teddy bear you’ve ever seen. But, in true matters of the heart, sometimes appearances aren’t worth one single fuck.
We all have our most valuable and precious possessions, kid, old and young, every last one of us. And to lose them fucking sucks. Which is why you and I should consider not bringing our most valuable and precious possessions where they can be easily taken (accidentally and not.) I have a feeling, however, that Puppy might miraculously find her way back to us on Monday, if she smells anything like my pants did by the end of the day.