The first time someone you “like” gets you a cute and cuddly stuffed animal, it’s almost indescribably sweet. It’s that moment every Hallmark card has promised you. It wipes out the embarrassment of walking around the school with a half-ton of metal in your mouth and fiddling with rubber bands looped around your molars. You forget that your best friend has a prettier nose or your one eyebrow is slightly crooked or your Nazi mother won’t let you wax your legs until you’re eighteen.
It’s even better if you have to hide the itty bitty teddy bear from the stern gaze of your moralistic and disapproving parents. After the boy has ritualistically and oh-so-romantically slipped it to you during recess or the mandatory after-school tuition class, you delightedly show it off to all your closest and bestest friends before stuffing it deep inside your schoolbag to take it home. Once there, you act as normal as possible, trying not to scurry with the sheer excitement of it all – there’s a cute boy out there who thinks you’re so special, he just handed you the universal declaration of love: a stuffed animal! How can a body bear it?!
It could be a teddy bear, a bunny rabbit or even Tweety – it’s not the species that’s important although a teddy bear, preferably pink or brown, is always the best option unless she has expressly stated her intense desire for a misshapen little yellow bird or something. And you never want to buy her a pig or a frog, etc. unless you know for dead certain that that’s what she’d like. Anyway, whatever it is, it has to be something that you can safely smuggle into the house without arousing suspicion. And when it is eventually discovered (#1 Law of the Universe: Thy Parents Shall Discover All Things You Most Wish They Wouldn’t, ‘Tis Only a Matter of Time), secreted away in the far corner of your closet or nonchalantly hidden in plain sight with the rest of your dumb stuffed toys, the useless ones that your parents bought for you because, I don’t know, they think you’re a child or something, you can always say:
“Oh, that old thing? Yeah, So-and-so gave it to me for, er, Friendship Day. Of course I gave her something too! I gave her… a hug? What? She liked it. She said so.”
And that’s when you know you’re all grown up. Lying to your parents because some guy you thought was cute for two minutes in high school gave you a squeezable dustcatcher? Proof positive that you’re a woman now!
The second time you get a stuffed animal, unless you’re an avid collector of the things, the pleasure has dimmed a bit but it’s still a warm glow around your heart. Aww, you think. How cute.
This glow begins to dim noticeably on each future occasion, however. Slowly, at some point in your very early twenties (possibly sooner if you’re quick to see these things) you begin to notice that your room is now so full of dearly beloved keepsakes and mementos, you’re slowly being squeezed out of it. Your bookshelf has few books, but is bursting at the seams with the little knickknacks, often completely bizarre and with no co-relation to your life at all, given to you by all your friends and romantic interests. The secret corner of your closet where you used to hide your love letters and Valentine’s Day cards is now so full to overflowing with the foot-tall cards orgasming with roses and flowery poetry, there’s nothing “secret” about it whatsoever. All you need to do is open the door and voila! There’re your innermost secrets visible to all.
And the stuffed toys! There are so many of them in such a variety of sizes, that you’ve begun to give them away to the neighborhood children. You start crashing birthday parties of perfectly annoying little brats so you can get rid of a few of the critters cluttering up your room. You get fat on birthday cake and mothers start asking you when you plan on starting a family of your own since you love the kiddies so much.
Then one day your mother asks you what you want to do with your old bedroom since you no longer live there and might perhaps want to update it a bit for your visits back home. You don’t know what she’s talking about until you walk in there and suddenly realize that you’ve given away all the stuffed animals that populated your teens and your room is now a blank slate waiting for you to decide what you want to do with it. It’s been a while since anybody got you a bear or a bunny or Tweety or Mickey or anything or anybody stuffed at all.
And that’s when you realize springtime is over.