Photo of Red's beloved stuffed sheep

Photo by Red

I've always loved stuffed animals. And the softer and plusher, the better. They're like family. Only, in some ways, better, but I won't go down that road. Not today, anyway. Some children outgrow their love for stuffed animals (or do they just stopping admitting it?), but not me. And although I've stopped adding to my collection over the years (ok, make that decades), there are always those favorite ones that are loved just a little bit more, squeezed a little tighter, hugged a little longer.


Well, for someone who has a theater arts degree and more than a passing knowledge of Tudor history, I'd say that one of the most useful things I've learned is … the repair of stuffed animals. Over the years, I've patched up more than my share of stuffed animals, my own and my daughters. I've even gone so far as to do what could only be called a "full fluff transplant" – turning a very large (over four feet tall), but very "stiff", frog won at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo into the cutest, squishiest frog EVER.

But I digress. Well, maybe just a little because I promise this is going somewhere. (I can hear Black saying, "Then get there already.") Recently Black emailed me a video with a note that it made her want to buy a Vermont Teddy Bear. Knowing she's definitely not warm and fuzzy, let alone a stuffed animal person, I couldn't imagine what the video could be about to make her say that. I should've guessed there'd be a Make-A-Wish connection (remember Bernie's Inauguration Day mittens?), and I couldn't help but smile when I heard that the Vermont Teddy Bear Company was renting office space to Make-A-Wish Vermont for $1/year.

I immediately picked up the phone to tell her how I've always been impressed by the company, but before I could say how the video didn't surprise me, she starts telling me about their "Limb Loss and Difference Limb Bear" that not only offer love and comfort but supports the Amputee Coalition. Finally, I'm able to tell her that The Vermont Teddy Bear Company has always been great, especially in unexpected ways,

Decades ago, when I visited Vermont on a regular basis, I was traveling with one of my beloved stuffed animals – a soft, cuddly sheep that I had gotten in England many years prior. She had what I'd call "old-fashioned" eyes (the type they probably don't make anymore because they'd be considered a health hazard), and over the years, one of the eyes got looser and looser. And while I did everything I could, I knew that it was only a matter of time before the eye would fall off.

I was at the Vermont Teddy Bear Store and mentioned the "condition" to the in-house doctor (seriously, they have one). The next thing I knew, I was leaving my "baby" overnight at their "hospital" (which is usually reserved for their bears) to return the following morning to pick up the patient, who now had a beautifully repaired eye that to this day is perfect.
Photo taken by Black

Although I have subscriptions to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal (thanks to Black), it's primarily for their arts sections, as I love their coverage on movies, theater, and TV. I try to quickly leaf through the other sections (I feel guilty just sending it straight to recycling) in case there's anything that might be remotely interesting or relevant to Red & Black. But I never expected memories of my high school senior prom to come flooding back … thanks to the business section of The Wall Street Journal.

It brought me back to the spring of 1980 (yes, I'm that old), and as my high school graduation rapidly approached, so did the senior prom. I wasn't dating anyone, and even though it was "back in the day" when girls didn't ask boys out on a date, I decided to invite Carlo, a boy I was good friends with, although I definitely "like liked" him. All girls reading this will know exactly what I mean. For boys, well, you can probably figure it out.

Anyway, I summoned up the courage and asked, and much to my surprise, no make that shock, he accepted. So, you may be thinking, ok, well, this all sounds pretty normal and uneventful, even if it was decades ago. What's the big deal? And what could this possibly have to do with a newspaper article?

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