Anyway, upon finally finding out the baby’s sex, I somehow managed to convince Owen that we should go make him (the baby) a bear at the Build-A-Bear Workshop when we were in Mishawauka for Black Friday. I have secretly always wanted to do this. I’m not sure why. After going there Friday, I have begun to question if it might be that I’m a closet masochist.
The moment we walked into the store, we both began undressing. Not out of any desire to go to jail, but we had to lose a few layers because we were now in tropical heat. Imagine…19 degrees outside with 50 mph wind gusts and sweating buckles at Build-A-Bear. There was a line but, given the staggering lines we’d been seeing all day, it didn’t seem bad. 20 minutes later, we had not moved one step and neither one of us could take any more of either the uppity yuppie couple in front of us who talked endlessly about some lecturer or the 17-year-old couple who were so disgustingly sweet I thought I might vomit (“Baby, how about we record your voice saying ‘I love you’ so I can hug it and hear you all night?”) or the speed-freak 7-year old at the sound station in front of us who kept pressing the talk buttons in rapid-fire succession, not even letting one message finish before she pressed the button again (“I…I…I…I…I lo…I lo…I…I…I love you.”).
While we were waiting, an employee came by and gave us a barcode to put inside our bear. “That way if it gets lost,” she said, “It will always come back to you! But make sure you name it and make it a birth certificate if you want us to mail it back!” And then she was off. Owen and I looked at each other, both of us feeling as though we had been slimed by sweetness. “Mail it back?” I asked him. How will they get the barcode? They’ll have to gut him…how charming. I can just imagine some basement somewhere with knee-deep stuffing on the floor where they gut these bears to find their barcodes.” “Are we really going to make it a birth certificate?” Owen asked, alarmed. “Hell no,” I said. If it’s gone, it’s gone. And then, wonder of wonders, the line began to move and about 5 minutes later, Owen and I were standing in front of our bear surgeon.
Now, we had been watching the drill while we waited…and the drill is that they make you press a foot pedal to blow in the stuffing and then you choose a little stuffed heart for it. Before you can shove it in, though, you have to do all kinds of things to it. There didn’t seem to be any particular script but, among the things I heard were, “Rub it on your arms so it never gets cold,” “Rub it on your head so it never has a bad hair day,” “Rub it on your cheeks so it always has a smile” and on and on. I made a mental note to tell her she ought to tell the kids behind us to rub it on their you-know-whats so it doesn’t get VD. You then shove the heart into it’s back and pull the stitching tight. In it’s back….whatever.
After we’d filled ours, I grabbed a heart out of the bin-o-organs and smiled at the surgeon. “Now we can just shove it right on in there, right?” I said, hoping to avoid the shenanigans. She looked at me, disappointed, as though I’d ruined her favorite part. She then hesitated, smiled tentatively, and said “first you have to kiss it.” I stared at her. She smiled at me, gauntlet thrown. This was not up for discussion. I wiped it across my mouth and handed it to Owen. “You too,” I said. He stared at me. I stared back at him. Reluctantly, he kissed it and then we handed it back to her so she could finish.
By this time the line at the checkout was as long as the first line had been, so we decided that Owen would go wait in line while I picked out an outfit for our bear. While I was off wrestling with 6-year-olds for the last pair of blue jeans, Owen waited. The barcode lady returned to him, asking him cheerfully what he’d named his bear. “We didn’t,” he said, matter-of-factly.” She looked horrified. “You mean you didn’t…” “Nope,” He interrupted her. “We don’t care.” “But…then….what did you put on the birth certificate?” “Didn’t make one,” he answered. “The bear doesn’t care.” She looked hurt, let down, like her belief in the goodness of humanity had been brutally shattered…and then forlornly moved on.
At this point, I returned, outfit constructed. Owen was smiling. “What?” I asked, knowing better…he hadn’t smiled since we passed through the doorway. “Oh nothing,” he answered. “I just told her we didn’t make the bear a birth certificate because it doesn’t care.” I smiled back at him. “Communist,” I said, and we both had a good laugh.
We actually got our bear two outfits…an every day one and a SPECIAL one…a Pistons jersey. Now that I think about it, though, it wouldn’t surprise me to come home one day to find that Owen had tried it on the baby…just to see what it might look like.