My sister lost her blankie, a dingy pink thermal nursing blanket, at a McDonalds off the I-75 in Michigan. My parents, thinking she had to give it up some time, decided that we wouldn't turn back. She cried all the way back to London, Ontario. "Blankie was my friend," she sobbed. For days afterward I played Pavlov. "Hey Lyndsay, where's your blankie?" The subject's eyes teared up and wailing ensued. She made more references to the friend-status of the waffle weave. Lyndsay, now 17, is still partial to clothing made out of long underwear material.
Perhaps as a result, I'm not all that sympathetic to the blanket crowd. Maybe I'm jealous. My college roommate, now 27, brought her "wanky" to university. It was no longer the majestic 6 x 6ft cotton blanket of her childhood, but its tragic remains. (It suffered a canine attack in the eighth grade.)
The rituals surrounding the objects are often more fascinating than the objects themselves. "I had to get my sister or someone to fold it to pillow size every night." Deirdre told me. "Then, I would fill my mouth up with water and spit it out on the wanky to create a wet spot. I would lift my arm above my head, stick my two right fingers upside down into my mouth and the other three fingers would flick the wet spot. It felt really good."
Like so many of her generation, Deirdre was not forced to give up her blanket. Nor did she try. "For most of my life, if I had to choose one thing to take with me from a fire, the wanky would be it. I'm sort of afraid of it now it's in a temperature-controlled bag in my parents' attic."
But not everyone's parents were so liberal. Georgia told me to ask her friend Yair about his shredded curtain. So I did.
"I had a 'stripe blanket'," he told me during a visit to STIM's office one day. Huh? I'd been promised tattered drapery. "What about that shredded curtain," Georgia shouted over the wall of the cubicle. "It's not a curtain," he shouted back. "It's a blanket an old grey and blue striped curtain my mother made into a blanket." Semantics can mean so much in a relationship.
At 10, Yair's dad decided it was time for him to be a man and forced him to throw his blanket down the laundry chute. But that was no obstacle for a young lad with an obsession and a fishing pole Yair soon reeled that stripe blanket back up into his loving arms. His father later found another hiding place.
Don't worry kids, this story has a happy ending. Boy and curtain, er, I mean blanket, were united in college. "It's part of my childhood that I wouldn't want to get lost."