Everyone should have to attend a Build-a-Bear party at least once, if only to remind those without children why they don’t want them. Hard core cases might consider working there.
The Reigning Queen of Pink, Grand Duchess of Fluff, and High Protector of Barbies was invited to a birthday party that involved bears. Having never been to a Build-a-Bear workshop, it was decided that my number was up, and off we went.
The party started like all such parties, where I walk in with the bouncingly cute RQoP and am completely invisible to members of the other gender. Since I was the only Big Ugly Man Doll in the place, I was easy to ignore. This was rectified by the mother of the celebrant, who knows me. Once she (as the party organizer) acknowledged my existence, I suddenly became visible enough for other women to talk to me. She also introduced me to a sister in law, who smiled without making eye contact and promptly left the building – that’s more like it. Once the grandmother of the celebrant gave me a big hug as well, I was nearly accepted as one of the girls.
You know, until I spoke. You make one little comment about naming your bear “Harry” and then bringing it home and shaving it bald, and everyone backs away. The mother of the celebrant asked me point blank, “SOBUMD sends you to these as fodder for the blog, doesn’t she?”
If you haven’t had the joy of attending a party where bears are built, let me tell you a little about it. First, not THAT kind of bear, though I still think mine would make for a cooler, albeit shorter, party. The first thing we do is gather up all your little darlings and report to your Party Leader. Now, I thought the Party Leader was Senator Robert Byrd or Kim Jong il or something, but in this case it’s some slob whose will to live has been so sapped by working here they run the parties because they can’t fight anymore, or they’re so obscenely old they don’t remember the schedule anyway, also like Senator Robert Byrd, come to think of it.
(“You’re very young for this decision, you know – what makes you consider a vasectomy at only 23 years old?” “Doctor, I work at Build-a-Bear in the mall.” “Oh my god, I’m so sorry. We’ll get you scheduled right away.” )
We follow our Dear Leader to a corner where she hands all the kids an empty bear skin, which at this point looks for all the world like a large furry condom. Now for my money, we should end this here with a nice new bearskin rug for the dollhouse, but it was not to be.
Next stop, organ harvesting! Dear Leader troops all the little darlings to the back of the store and everyone is issued a shiny cloth heart. The birthday celebrant then walks up and down the line, pausing for each attendee to drop their heart into the birthday girl’s fur sack, which looks like a fealty ritual straight out of old school Kabbalah: “I give you my heart, to place in your bear.” “I hold your heart in my bear, and so you are mine.”
At the end of this, you’re looking at a bear with 18 or more hearts – woe betide the hunter who runs afoul of this bruin with his rifle. (They also sell a push-button heart you can sew into your bear that makes the sound of a heart. For about 15 seconds. The downside is that when it *stops*, another bear in a Doctor outfit runs up with paddles, yells “clear!” and singes the heck out of little Cuddles. It’s a great gift for nursing students, but your average 7-yr-old might get a little freaked at having their bear go into cardiac arrest every night.)
Dear Leader then gives each kid a new heart for their own bear and takes the kids to the stuffing station. This is a large box with fluff flying and floating in it, which we can see through the large glass window.. There are buttons on the front marked Love, Joy, Friendship, and Happiness. One of the kids asked what the buttons did, and the answer was, of course, “that’s so you can add happiness and love to your bear!”
Wait, no, the answer was “those make the lights in the box change color.” Right. Your soul and your last check will be mailed to the address we have on file. Get out.
Now, I watched this part pretty closely, and it looks like a pretty raw deal for the bear. Here you are, all fondled and sticky with a brand new heart, and suddenly Wham! You’re the cover story for Proctology Today, as someone bends you over and stuffs the tailpipe from a ’72 Charger up your ass while the Grandmother of the Birthday Celebrant takes your picture.
While you’re enjoying your first proctology exam, your new owner steps on a foot pedal that operates what can only be described as the Ultimate Cotton Enema. (And you know she loves you, because it hurts so good!) By the time it’s over you’ve gone from a size two to a size 12 in under a minute, and your new heart’s in your throat – probably literally. A quick stitch up the ass and you’re on your own, and the soulless proctologist is yelling Next!
Next, once the kids have bears and the bears have had the Ultimate Cotton Enema, is that it’s time to go. Oops, nope – not time to go yet, because we’re scheduled for another 45 minutes and half the parents aren’t here. Buying yourself some time in a Build-a-Bear shop means exactly that – buying. On with the Outfits! While the children tried cute shirts on their bears, I looked through the immense outfit selection. I decided that I need to start my own Build-a-Bear Band: They have a Sailor outfit, a Construction Worker outfit, a Biker outfit, a Cowboy outfit, an Indian outfit, and a Police Officer outfit. Yep – I’m taking them home, shaving a few of them bald, oiling them up and dressing them as the Village People. (“I wanna be a macho, macho bear…”)
The RQoP eventually found a nice shirt that said something like “Why yes, I *do* do that in the woods!”
As we were leaving, I slipped the Mother of the Celebrant a spare cloth heart, just so she can whip it out should her kids ever call her heartless. I also had a chance to interview one of the bears, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because he fears reprisals.
BUMD: “So, tell me about the Ultimate Cotton Enema machine.”
Bear: “At first, it’s life, you know, it’s pain, but it’s a good kind of pain. After about 3 seconds, though, you just lay there and wait for it to be over. I’m not going to lie to you, that shit hurts.”
BUMD: “Is that the worst part of this job, do you think?”
Bear: “The worst, no, I’d have to say the name game is the worst. For example, my friend is called Raglan the Resplendent. One of these days, though, some poxy kid will walk in and Bang! His name is Brownie, or Coco, or Cuddles. We all pray for a decent name, but it’s always Lollipop, Brownie, Princess, or Oodles, or Spiderman if we go home with a boy.”
BUMD: “Any other dangers?”
Bear: “Bartholomew Bruinson got sucked into the Ultimate Cotton Enema machine once. It tore him up back there, if you know what I mean.”
Bear: “Rectum? Damn near killed ‘im! Heh, god I love that joke.”
With that I left, for obvious reasons, following the trail of kids and the Reigning Queen of Pink, who had a wonderful time, of course. Those who rule by divine right tend to have a good time everywhere they go.