Kids dig 'em! Soft plush toys are preferred for attachment purposes. They're the most common object still owned in the adult years.
"You've probably seen it unwrapped," said my ex-boyfriend when I called him about his teddy wrapped tightly in a flannel baby blanket. I had. While we were dating, his mother had even sent him a new blanket for the bear. Being three and a half years his senior, I was not surprised what do you expect when you rob the cradle?
"For sanitary reasons, the flannel baby blankets are changed," the now 24 year old music editor told me. He also performs routine maintenance and, at the insistence of his new girlfriend, he washed the creature itself.
"The big question everyone asks is do I talk to the bear. No, I never talk to the bear. Teddy was never a conversation piece." And while its mummy-like ugliness might spark a conversation or two, no one has retreated because of it. "It's my sensitive guy proof!"
But all beasts aren't so well preserved. "I put Floppy in a box in the fifth grade," sighed Mike, a 27 year old writer. Since it's common that parents will pressure kids to give up their dirty little friends, I wondered if this was Mike's story. "Oh, the world made me put it the box! My mom insists it's still there but I have this feeling like it's lost forever. Floppy is my only boyfriend that lasted." Floppy was a stuffed dog with no eyes, fur or stuffing hence the name. "It was really just a rag."
Ready to run out and get a stuffed animal of your own? Be forewarned not everyone finds the perpetual child cute. Despite her own dependence on a little white lambie at age 2, Suzanne, a 37 year old editor, was still shocked by the vestiges of a friend's childhood. "He has these really dirty stuffed animals all over his room." she explained. "When his mother visited she cleaned his room and then DISPLAYED them. That freaked me out."
At least she knew what they were. Over dinner one night Douglas, a 26 year old editor and writer, told me he had a Tribble. A what? "You know, from 'Star Trek.'" Apparently Tribbles are small round furry creatures that make people feel good when they hold them. (Like a real life warm fuzzy!) They eat grain and are born pregnant. His mother made his out of an old bath robe when he was 5.
"I figured out that people had these fetish objects, and being a good postmodern five year old, I decided my (comforter) should specifically signify comfort," Douglas explained. "There was also an anonymous teddy bear that floated in and out of my life but it wasn't a serious commitment."
Only one subject was a comforter bigamist. "I have two stuffed guinea pigs, 'Hamster' and 'Dot, that I got when I was 8," confessed Georgia, STIM's 27 year old art director. Apparently it's not easy having two animals to look out for. "I had to be careful I didn't kiss one more than the other." And though they've survived nearly 20 years, she still has to protect them. "Over the years various boyfriends got to know and like them, one boy even said he was going to miss Hamster and Dot when we broke up. But another boy acted like he was going to take one!"