Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Stuff Me

2008! Woo hoo! Dance like a monkey!

All over the world today people are signing up for gyms, buying high fiber foods, and making plans with their families that they most likely will never keep. I have toyed with a number of resolutions for the year, including losing weight, learning a new language, swearing less, and volunteering for charity work. However, today at about 2:12pm it became crystal clear what my mission should be in the next year: to avoid ever again setting foot in a "Build a Bear Workshop."

For Christmas my friends Jamie and Jen gave Luke a gift certificate to "Build a Bear" so that he and their two children could spend an afternoon carelessly enjoying bringing new stuffed friends to life. At first I thought "oh, how nice," but now I just pretty much want them both to go to hell. No matter what anyone tells you, "Build a Bear" is nothing but a soul sucking vortex of misery.

When we got there the line to pick out an animal and get it stuffed was at least sixteen people long and not all of them were kids. In fact, just behind us a young couple were there to make bears as part of their honeymoon celebration. I guess Disneyland was too expensive. There was also a woman picking out a pink leopard without any irony. I'm sure it looks lovely on her twin bed under her Shawn Cassidy poster.

The line moved at a glacial pace, and not just because they only had one "stuffer" open. No, it was due to the fact that every child was put through a bizarre ritual that involved hugging the new stuffed animal, kissing a little heart to put inside of them, and then making a "very special wish." The girl in charge of stuffing was not going to let any child pass without carefully completing each step. While we waited another
"Build a Bear" employee went through the line talking to each child about how very special their new friend would be, and encouraging them to pick out a wonderful and unique outfit to dress them in. Yeah, wonderful, unique, and $25 bucks. Finally, I asked the girl why she didn't get stuffing to get the line moving. Her response was something I would expect to hear from an elf. She said "I'm not a stuffer, I'm a helper." What I would have given for a Nerf bat at that moment.

Finally we got up to the front and the kids got their animals (dinosaurs for the boys, a pink fluffy poodle for Jamie's daughter) filled with whatever carcinogenic fluff they use. I don't know why anyone would think this was fun or magical, because to me it just looked like the poor stuffed animal was undergoing a harsh, and invasive medical procedure, kind of like liposuction in reverse. The kids loved it though, especially when they got to pick how soft or stuffed their animal would be.

I really thought that after the stuffing we could just pick out an outfit, pay the bill, and get the hell out of there. Oh, no. First you have to "bathe" your new friend. And then you have to "fluff" them. I'm guessing that whoever invented
"Build a Bear" is not familiar with porn film vernacular, or I think that station may have been named something different.

After the stuffed animal is "washed" and "fluffed" it is time to pick out an outfit, and then sign over the deed to your house. The stuffed animals at
"Build a Bear" have more wardrobe choices than the Gabor sisters, and each one dips into your wallet just a little further. I mean, why would you buy your stuffed animal a shirt and pants and then deny them shoes? What kind of heartless animal are you? And what about hats? Or coats? Or little stupid plastic cell phones? Or underwear? Yes, they have no genitals, and nothing to cover up, but dammit there are standards of decency! And the entire time Jen, Jamie, and I were trying to convince the children they did not need full layettes for their dolls there were "helpers" trying to convince them they did. These women scared me, because I think several of them were doing it for more than sales goals. They were those kind of plump, very smiley girls that everyone knows in high school. The ones who bake brownies for teachers, have pictures of kittens hanging in their lockers, go to pep rallies, and eventually will have an addiction to prescription medications. I think they were really concerned that the little stuffed darlings wouldn't be happy without the perfect boots to go with their fireman outfits. Hell, one of them almost had me convinced until Luke, now the voice of reason, said "but he's a dinosaur, so I think he has pretty tough feet." Thank God he didn't pick a bear with tender feet.

I was shocked at the price of the thing when all was said and done. 36 bucks. For that much money not only do I want the bear to come stuffed, but I also want it to sing. According to Jamie I got off pretty easily, and her step-daughter had on occasion made bears that cost upwards of 75 dollars. For that the damn thing better clean my house.

The only thing that gave me any joy during the whole experience was when we filled out the "birth certificate" for Jason the firefighting dinosaur I got to put my sister's address down. I hope she enjoys what I'm almost certain will be an inundation of
"Build a Bear" propaganda. Heh, heh. Because while I will be avoiding "Build a Bear" like the plague Luke expressed an interest to go back almost immediately after we left. And she is his mother...


Emily-Ione said...

Luke has 3 or 4 of those already... where do you think SpiderBear came from???

You should see the one at the Mall of Gomorra - um, I mean America.

Amanda said...

Now that all of that good will towards men crap is over, I can say this and not fear a smiting by the gods of holiday cheer - bite me Libby.
Just remember that you are trying to conceive & one day your precious spawn will want to watch its own "Precious Friend" be suspended on a sharp pointy tube, with promises of a full wardrobe in the close future. As his/her aunt, it will be my duty to provide such fun & such mass mailings.

All sarcasm & vitriol aside, thanks for taking him yesterday, he had a great time.

Jamie said...

Oh fine things come in large stores with lots of stimulation......Libby Mitchell about to loose her gourd. Truly one of a kind experience.
I agree with you completely on the whole bullshit scenario of picking a poor lifeless animal and basically shoving a metal rod up their ass, maybe a stuffed animal colonoscopy....but the thing that pisses me off the most is that I didn't think of this in the first place!!!!!!!! I have just always been a little slow!!!!!
It was a good expensive time though.....I wonder what the going rates for local hookers are????

Anonymous said...

Ah, thanks girls, this was one place that I have been spared. However, I do remember sending in the birth certificate for a cabbage patch doll...

Anonymous said...

My son was adamant that his giraffe not get a heart. So theres hope.