I think I was 18 when my friend Beth gave me a teddy bear. I might have been 19, now that I think of it. It was one of those ages...
She gave it to me as a birthday gift, I believe. Or for Christmas. I know it was a gift-giving kind of occasion. That I'm sure of. I was 18 or 19 and it was either my birthday or Christmas. There was wrapping paper, I'm also certain on that part of the story.
Whatever the age/circumstance, I got a teddy bear. And I've slept with the thing ever since.
It's not one of those foolish, little squishy bears, either. He's firmly stuffed. I could use him as a weapon should that Bogey Man Scenario ever play itself out, although I don't think I would do that to a teddy bear. He came with fully articulated arms and legs and a jaunty red bow. There has never been, nor ever will be, a bear so fine as this.
I am now in my mid-forties and the bear remains an integral part of the bedtime ritual. I cannot sleep without him. Many is the night I have had to frantically search the wadded sheets and blankets in order to locate him so I can get the slumbering underway. I should probably take this as a sign and start making my bed every morning but I don't want to get into any bad habits over a bear.
I am also very particular about positioning. Each night, I arrange the bear thusly: First, the arms must be raised upright. This gets them out of the way. I lay on my side and hold the bear with my arms crossed around him. He must be facing outward so he can breathe. Lastly, I place my chin firmly on top of his head and push down.
Then I can sleep.
It's the chin thing that does it, I fear. It puts pressure on his poor, little noggin. And twenty or so years of pressure is going to cause problems. It doesn't matter if you're a bear or a person. Twenty years of someone pushing their chin onto your head and eventually...
Your head will pop off.
That's what happened to my bear. The first time was quite horrifying. I had no idea. I just woke up next to a headless teddy bear. There's really no way to prepare for that. None.
I stitched the head back on, but not very well. Still, it lasted for almost two years and, if my bear's head flopped around a bit, it didn't bother me all that much. Recently, though, the stitches pulled loose, I was faced with a teddy bear head that flipped back like a trash can lid. It didn't come completely off nor was it the total decapitation that so startled me a while back. But it was still kind of unnerving. It also made it hard to do the chin-press thing and, as I've stated, I need to do that. Sleep depends upon it.
I resolved to deal with this matter as quickly as possible. Which, in my world, means "wait a month then get around to it because there is nothing good on TV." Yesterday fit that definition rather nicely so I gathered my supplies and prepared for bear surgery.
It is not easy sewing my bear's head back on. There is no seam there. He wasn't meant to come apart at that spot and I blame the bear-makers for not taking into consideration the need for chin-to-head application. The fabric is dense and I had to work through the thickest of stuffings. The only way to make it work was to stitch at an angle then pull the thread tightly to close the seam. Wanting a firmer stitch, I sewed with the little sample pack of dental floss I got at my last cleaning. It was stronger than the thread I used before and allowed for vigorous tugging.
The bear was stoic throughout and I rewarded his bravery by giving him a new jaunty bow. His old one was so tattered that it didn't do much for his overall look. I think he was pleased. There's no way to know for sure since teddy bears don't talk. Even if this one did speak at one point in the distant past, the stitches that represented his mouth disappeared long ago. He'd be the strong, silent type no matter what now.
But he didn't complain when I asked him to hold the mitten-in-progress so I take that as a sign of his appreciation.
It was a delicate operation, but worth the time. I sort of wish I'd read the fine print on the dental floss package because I didn't know that my dentist switched over to the mint flavor. I'm not sure that I wanted my bear to smell quite so crisp and fresh, but there are worse things to smell at bedtime. I'm not going to complain. I now have a bear in my bed and a place to rest my chin.
I slept like a baby last night.