Teddy Freddy

Teddy Freddy is a stuffed blue bear. I have no idea what brand he is, as a hasty Google image search leads me to believe that I am the only person left in America with this specific bear. His tag says only “MADE EXPRESSLY FOR MERVYN’S. MADE IN KOREA” on one side, and “ALL NEW MATERIALS. SYNTHETIC FIBERS” on the other. He has a blue sweater with a row of black hearts on it. He’s pretty much two-dimensional at this point, from 20 years of me sleeping with my head on him.

I got Teddy Freddy for my sixth birthday from my best friend Billy, who is still my best friend, and rest assured there will be a post on him later. But for right now, we’re discussing the bear. When I was little I had hordes of stuffed animals, and over them all Teddy Freddy reigned supreme, the king of his domain in the giant furry pile of creatures that lived on my bed, heaped on top of piles of embroidered pillows made by my mother and grandmother. Lesser stuffed beings lived on the shelves, guarding my books. But Teddy Freddy had pride of place, his garish blue fur clashing hideously with my pink-and-green-and-white decor. I loved that bear. I slept with him every night, in the exact same way – on my left side, with my left arm bent at the elbow on top of the pillow, Teddy Freddy lying flat on top of my arm, and my head on top of Teddy Freddy.

When I was a kid, I slept with Teddy Freddy for comfort and reassurance. He was good with stuff like Fear of the Dark, Street Noises, and Possibility of a Spider. I took him with me to sleepovers and on vacations to share my hotel room bed. If I forgot him, I couldn’t sleep. Then, as I got older, I needed the reassurance less, but it was still comforting and sentimental to have the bear my best friend gave me curled up under my head as I slept.

Here’s the problem. I’m 26. I have spent two decades sleeping in exactly the same position. Now I can’t possibly get rid of the bear. For one, no combination of pillows (I have tried them all) can exactly recreate the precise layering of mattress/pillow/arm/bear/h

ead that is so conducive to sleep. If I rest my head directly on my arm, the skin gets sweaty and my forehead is too hard to lean on my arm in comfort. If I remove the bear and replace it with a pillow, it’s way too soft and my head sinks into the pillow and then I feel smothered, and start to worry that maybe someone is trying to kill me in my sleep. If I try to swap out the bear for like a smaller, firmer, perhaps decorative or ornamental pillow, they’re either too hard or too soft and I wake up with weird fabric patterns imprinted into my cheek.

So, you see the dilemma. In my own home, there’s just me. Well, and my sister, but she doesn’t care. So when I’m at home, the bear’s a non-issue. But I do occasionally have to leave my house. At some point it becomes bizarre for a woman who is, let’s just say closer to 30 than 20, to bring a smushed, ratty blue teddy bear with her on like a business trip. (I have never done this. But I have a sneaking suspicion it’s why I can never sleep in hotel beds, no matter how comfortable.)

So, here are my options:

1) Hope that I naturally and quietly grow out of the bear.
2) Get married. Have the bear confiscated.
3) Get rid of the bear, then never be able to sleep properly again.
4) Continue sleeping with the bear because what the hell, it’s no one else’s damn business.
5) Try to slowly wean myself from the bear like I should have done when I was like nine.
6) Ignore the problem and hope it goes away (always a favorite).

Let me just say this, in favor of bear retention – this bear has been with me through some crazy shit. Teddy Freddy has lived on three continents and in four U.S. states. He is perfectly smooshed to the shape of my head in a way that I’m sure is a metaphor for something. He has stuck with me through thick and thin, ever since the day twenty years ago when he was given to me by another person who has stuck with me through thick and thin for twenty years. In all the intervening years of birthday parties, of all the thoughtful and wonderful gifts I’ve received from Billy (and the not-so-wonderful, since he definitely went through a phase where all he gave me were sweatshirts), nothing has ever topped the bear.

I feel I need to say, too, that Teddy Freddy is not like a subtle and soothing, baby-boy-clothing-colored blue. He’s like Crayola blue. It is a color blue that matches nothing that I own. And speaking as a person who pays pretty close attention to things like color-coordinating my comforter with my decorative pillows, I think it puzzles people to have this glaring blue eyesore in the middle of a bed otherwise decorated in tasteful neutral tones. (Okay, leopard.) He’s completely incongruous and slightly (though it kills me to say it) tacky. But I like to think that Teddy Freddy knows this and embraces it. “Hi, everyone!” his crazy-ass bright blue fur and matching sweater seem to say. “I am a color of blue not found anywhere in nature and I match nothing you own! You will always be able to locate me in a pile of toys or laundry and I am the only one of my kind!” I like to think he embraces his out-there-ness. Kind of like Billy, even back when he was six. He never cared that much what other people thought. It would never occur to him, like it constantly does to me, that people might possibly care that I still sleep with a bear, that the bear doesn’t match my bedspread, that the color is loud, that it says something about my fear of change that I can’t even like move the bear to a shelf, that I have to have this thing with me, right up against my skin and bearing the weight of my entire head or I cannot possibly fall asleep. Billy would shrug and say, “Who cares?” Which is probably what Teddy Freddy would say too. He is a highly unselfconscious bear and knows what he is about.

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