My Toy Story (2004-05-14)

I saw Toy Story 2 on TV the other day and thought of my own Toy.

I was maybe twelve or thirteen when I found this giant Pink Panther stuffed animal lying on top of a pile of garbage waiting to be collected.  He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  He was made exactly like the cartoon character, slender with long limbs and big hands and feet.  I don't know how tall I was then but he was almost my height, if not taller.  Why would anybody want to throw him out? He looked so perfect.  I snatched him off the trash and rushed him home.  I didn't care about his condition, I just wanted to rescue him.  Once I had safely snuck him into my room, I began to examine his "wounds".  I started to look for any torn patches on his body or loose stitches in the seams.  To my surprise, there was none.  He was just dirty, nothing a bath wouldn't fix.  I gingerly told mom about my new friend and begged her to let me keep him.  She reluctantly agreed and I was elated.  I washed him thoroughly and hung him in the sun for two full days before he became completely dry.  I found a pair of old green striped pajamas that belonged to my brother and put them on him, they were a little short on his long arms and legs but I thought they fit well.  He looked absolutely adorable.  I called my new friend Goofy Panther, the Chinese translation of the name Pink Panther.  It was the happiest day of my life.

Goofy Panther became the most important part of my young existence.  I had never grown so attached and bonded to a soft toy before.  When I went home after school, the first person I talked to was him.  When I was at the desk doing homework, I would sit him up on the bed to watch me and keep me company.  I liked to hold his big hands in mine and make funny poses of him and then laughed myself silly.  I snuggled with him every night under the covers and told him about my other unimportant friends at school before I fell asleep.  Goofy Panther became my buddy and my confidant, he was the best thing that could happen to me.

Then one day I came home and raced to my bedroom as usual.  I couldn't wait to tell him about my day at school.  But he wasn't sleeping in bed like he should be.  A sense of doom loomed over me.  I searched for him frantically everywhere and he was nowhere to be found.  I was so overcome with panic that I had forgotten to ask others in the house his whereabout.  I finally caught mom in the kitchen and seeing her suddenly terrorized me.  I asked the dreaded question, "What happened to Goofy Panther?"  She said, "I threw it away."  No explanation, just like that.  My heart seized, my throat closed, my skin exploded into a surge of goose bumps.  My guts were knotted in a hundred different places strangling me inside.  I stood there in the kitchen facing the back of my mother in total shock and disbelief.  I couldn't utter a single word.  Life was over for me as I knew it.  I simply went to my room and wept.  "But why?" I had later asked and was told it was someone else's garbage to begin with and should be tossed.  There would be no more questioning, no talking back, no angry outburst at my parents and absolutely no crying if I was to avoid a whipping.  Order in my family when I was growing up was brutal in today's standard.  That night I sobbed myself to sleep.  It was the saddest day of my life.

Toy or no toy, I lost my best childhood friend and an irreplaceable friendship albeit an imagined one.  For a long time I trusted no one and I projected my resentment toward people in general.  It took me many years to get over my anger.  I don't know if this incident affected the way I look at mankind-- I'll have to ask a psychoanalyst about that--but I do like animals much more than I like humans.  Even stuffed animals are more loveable than people.

And I miss you, Goofy Panther.  A lot.

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