Ramblin’ Man

OK, I’m sticking my neck out a little here, but confession, they say, is good for the soul. So, here goes.

I’m a 52-year-old man, and I still have my childhood stuffed animal. Not only do I still have him, I still regard him as semi-human in a Calvin and Hobbes kind of way.

It wasn’t always easy hanging on to Blue Doggie. That’s his name — because he’s blue and he’s a dog. A couple of my brothers used to love tormenting me and literally ripped the ears off Blue Doggie. I sewed them back on with a needle, thread and crocodile tears.

He used to have eyes and a nose, but they’re long gone. One of my cousins was just a baby when he bit off the nose. That was probably 30 years ago.

My mom tried to get rid of him once during a yard sale. He was in the “free” box. Can you imagine, a priceless artifact like that in the free box?

If I found out that Blue Doggie was a rare toy worth $100,000, I don’t think I could bring myself to sell him. He’s been with me through thick and thin. When I ran away from home while in grade school, Blue Doggie went with me. He knows all of my secrets including the ones I’ve long forgotten.

I don’t have a weird, unhealthy attachment to the toy. I don’t think, anyway. It’s not like I still sleep with him or ask him for financial advice. He’s not displayed in my office; there is no Blue Doggie shrine. Yet, there’s still a tinge of personification.

For instance, I was looking for something else one day and found Blue Doggie stuffed in the drawer in my nightstand. I asked him what he was doing in there and took him out and found a spot on the closet shelf for him. Later, I told my wife, “Blue Doggie doesn’t like to be in a drawer.”

If you’ve ever watched the Toy Story movies and your eyes moistened up, then you know what I’m talking about. Some toys are not just toys.

My daughter didn’t take to Blue Doggie like I did. She had other favorite toys and probably regarded the dog as belonging to me and therefore not to be entirely trusted. Plus, he’s a bit old and ratty for her, and one of his ears is longer than the other.

But her oldest son has hit it off pretty well with Blue Doggie. He spent the weekend with us, and although he had slept with Blue Doggie by his side before, he’s at an age now where his imagination has no boundaries. He wanted to take Blue Doggie to dinner with him and wanted to take him home. We decided it would be better to leave the toy here so he will be here when Ben visits again.

I know it’s silly, but it was awesome when Ben trotted down the hallway hugging the toy, and with no one standing near him, I heard him say, “I love you, Blue Doggie.” I didn’t hear it, but I’m pretty sure Blue Doggie said ‘I love you’ back.

So, now Blue Doggie is on his third generation as comforter and the guardian of secrets. Now, if we can just keep Ben’s little brother from pulling off the ears, the old dog could hang in there for another 50 years.

Blue Doggie was given to me by my oldest brother, who won him at a carnival. Most carnival prizes don’t last 50 years, anymore. I’m sure Pete had no idea that the toy would be around for so long or would be of such importance.

Now, maybe you decided to grow up and you no longer have your favorite childhood toy. I’ll bet you wish you did.

© Copyright 2017 by David Porter who can be reached at porter@ramblinman.us. It’s a good thing my wife teaches Kindergarten; she “gets” me.