When I was a kid, my favorite stuffed animal was a teddy bear. I know. Boring.
I will say, however, this teddy bear was a little out of the ordinary. I remember the day I got him. My parents’ good friends (I think they were technically my godparents, though in my family that term was applied extremely loosely) came to visit, and the wife handed me this bear, which she made herself. He had short tan fur, white paws and bright red eyes with deep, dark pupils (weird choice, right?). It was love at first sight.
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I named him Radar, mostly because Big Bird had a teddy bear named Radar. But I also remember, vaguely, it having something to do with M*A*S*H. My parents watched that show, and while I wasn’t exactly into it as a little kid, I think I walked by the TV one time or something and found out there was a character named Radar who brought a teddy bear with him to Korea, and I thought that was pretty cool. (Incidentally, so did Carroll Spinney, the actor who played Big Bird, which is how Big Bird’s teddy bear got that name. Fun fact!)
Nora, however, has more eclectic tastes in stuffed animal friends (though less eclectic taste in naming them). She has a few teddy bears, but she pretty much ignores them. Her main squeeze is an otter. Which, if you think about it, is way better friend material than a bear, who would probably eat you if you met him in the wild. Nora and Otter (that’s his name, Otter) sleep together, ride in the car together, and occasionally go places like the dentist together. She forcibly introduces him to anyone we meet: “LOOK AT MY OTTER.” They are good buds.
Over the years, Radar sprang a few holes in his seams, and my mom would always sew him up carefully and have him rehabbed and back to me in no time. Otter has already been in for a couple of surgeries and needs one more, if I can ever remember to stitch him up while Nora’s in school. But I hope, over time, he holds up as well as Radar has. Everyone needs to be able to dig out their teddy bear (or, um, otter) sometimes, no matter how old they get.