05 November 2012
a bear market.
Guilt? You want to talk about guilt? I actually feel sorry for things. Not just living things, like trees, plankton, and ants, but also consumer products as well. Quite a few years ago, I was in a lousy, now-defunct discount department store for reasons I can't remember (or prefer not to), and I happened to walk past a display of stuffed bears in the toy department. Now these bears weren't manufactured by some big name toy manufacturer like Gund or Fisher-Price. And the bear itself wasn't recognizable as a particular character whose name and likeness would be subject to trademark. It was just a generic, cheaply-made, probably toxic nondescript bear. The problem was this: There were about a hundred of these bears (I'm exaggerating for effect, of course—but there were a lot of them, okay?) in a wire bin in a dark, dreary back corner of the store that nobody visited. You can picture it, can't you? There's this big, cage-like bin of bears under a flickering bank of fluorescent lights in a dingy drop ceiling with faint water stains. Of course, the bears were no doubt chucked in the bin by some asshole teenager, so they were lodged within the wire perimeter at strange and cruel angles. One bear's feet would be in another bear's face—and this bear's snout would be in that bear's ass. You get the idea. It was just a giant, depressing retail metaphor for sadness, loneliness, indifference, neglect—all of the emotional biggies, really. And when I saw this bin of bears—on clearance, no less—I instantly became miserable. I endowed each and every one of those bears with a human emotional response—and that response suspiciously resembled many of the worst feelings from my childhood—when my mother and father would argue day after day and leave me and my sister to (emotionally and physically) fend for ourselves. Yes, I know... the psychology behind it all is a neon cliché, but clichés become clichés because there is some prevalent truth in them. Because my feelings are painful but ordinary, does that mean that I'm not entitled to express them in some way? Does the triteness of a psychological complex preclude its relevance? I guess it goes without saying that I was compelled to buy one of the bears in order to liberate him from his predicament. I wasn't hoping for anything like catharsis because I knew that there were ninety-nine other bears suffering because I didn't choose them... because, you see, I want to save everyone and everything on this planet—and if I can't, then I'll never be happy. I inhabit every human, every animal, every object that's lonely or forgotten. I'm a neurotic ghost skittering from form to form, loaning my affects to dead matter. This isn't altruism, this isn't generosity, this isn't the aspiration of a new-age, freeform Jesus Christ. This is the worst kind of selfishness. I'm trying to deal with everything I feel by giving it away, by working through it at a distance—with a stuffed bear or a dying tree or even a piece of trash. It sounds like a joke—but twenty years later, I still have the bear, and if I got rid of it one day, it would be like doing an injury to myself worse than cutting or hitting or burning. I would suddenly become what I was protecting the bear from all these years, and I can't let that happen. Anything else but that. When I get home from work today, I will take a picture of the bear and show it to you. Maybe you'll see what I mean. Then again, maybe you won't.
excreted by David at 10:04 AM
file under: autobio, psychology
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
You're the Avalokitesvara of sad department store teddy bears.ReplyDelete
Okay. I had to google that one. But now I'm edified.Delete
I used to have emotional attachment to 'things' like that, but it started to weird me out and I intentionally set out to destroy them. I remember taking my cherished Star Wars action figures to the side of our apartment when I was in fifth grade and sanding off their features and twisting their limbs every which way until they were loose. I guess I just wanted to fit in with all the other kids, in the end...ReplyDelete
Anyway, just look at me now -- the very image of mental health!
You're cute, David. I guess I prefer the coward's way out, figuring that it's just easier to be an asshole.
I still have all of my Star Wars action figures. Does this surprise you? Probably not. I would still have all the playsets and vehicles too if my sneaky mother didn't gradually get rid of them so that when I finally noticed it was much too late.Delete
I have to admit that certain objects make me hateful toward them. Often computers fall into this category. I feel a personal malice toward my computer—probably because it's smarter than I am, because I have no idea how it works, and because it often refuses to cooperate.
I think we shared Star Wars action figures stories before. This is probably my fault because, alongside being an asshole, I find that willful forgetfulness has greased the wheels of my existence.Delete
(Which is probably why I always fuck up on my comments on your blog, too.)
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
As if today weren't sucky enough.
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
My brother uses Grindr and because he's young and nubile he gets a lot of attention; he knows it, and is a total wanker about it. Once this little guy tried to chat him up on it, and when my brother asked for a picture, he sent one with the heartbreaking disclaimer 'im not all dat, but i me'. My brother deleted him immediately. I was literally crushed with pity, and kept on yelling WHY COULDN'T YOU JUST WAIT A WHILE, SAY A COUPLE THINGS AND THEN DELETE HIM SO HE DIDN'T FEEL REJECTED? I couldn't wait for a week to pass, when I Me would've reasonably forgotten about it. This was for an illiterate Grindr bot; now that I know the capacity for wrenching pity includes all inanimate things crudely constructed to evoke aliveness, the whole world is a tragedy. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Ouch! Where is this little 'not all dat' guy? Although that's not my thing, I almost want to give him a consolation handjob. (Of course, I would probably send him a photo of myself and he'd delete me. The chain of cruelty never ends. Will we never learn?)Delete
Don't flatter yourself. You wouldn't get half the pity he did..his ugliness was of the Lucien Freud variety, yet he bravely went on Grindr. The boy was a walking tragedy.Delete
i have the most hideous sock monkey of all time. i don't even know how it came into my position -- i want to say it was in yard sale pile my sister brought over that never sold -- but its eyes are white on black instead of black on white, and the lip felt is torn making it look like he's smudged his lipstick. and people find him really unattractive (my old roommates used to hide him in the closet to avoid his baleful stare). eventually i took to dressing him up. he has a sherlock holmes outfit, and a tuxedo. he has a few wigs including the one he's wearing right now -- his king george i call it because i think he looks like he could be in a reformation comedy. or like a messy drag queen.ReplyDelete
but nobody else wanted him, and i can never let him go. :)
-- along with a million other inanimate things. how do you keep the teddy bear's apartment so tidy? :)
I'm glad you're keeping the sock monkey because otherwise you would have to send me the sock monkey so I could keep it myself, and then I would have to worry whether it was irrevocably miserable because you had rejected him.Delete
A world of grief and guilt opens up around every corner, doesn't it?