Tuesday, June 28, 2005

All Quiet in the Hundred Acre Wood

Thanks for the Memory to the Llama Butchers. Some of my thoughts here were first posted as comments there.

I was very sad to learn that the men who did the voices of Tigger and Piglet for many years died over the weekend. I'm especially saddened since I also learned form the butcher Boys that the Narrator, Gopher, Pooh, Mrs. Kanga, Owl, and Rabbit are already gone.

I've come to feel that your childhood truly ends not when you grow old, but when the people who made childhood special die. I was first hit with this when we lost Mel Blanc and Jim Henson. This hit me even harder. I'm almost in tears. What makes it worse is the point well made that most of the recent pablum put out under the Pooh aegis is, well, rot.

And worst of all is what was for me (though not for those in the know) a new and distressing revelation, that of A.A. Milne's role in persecuting PG Wodehouse, as well as the poor relationship between Milne and Christopher Robin Milne. The quote that pierced my heart was this one by the younger Milne: "I shall never get over my dislike of being the 'real live Christopher Robin'"

You see, I wanted so much to be, and to a cetain extent was, Christopher Robin. I was a Very Sick Child. An Almost-Died-Several-Times Child. An In-and-Out-of-Hospitals-More-Times-Than-Liz-Taylor-In-and-Out-of-Matrimony Child. And through it all, I had one constant companion, one Samwise to my Fevered Frodo, one friend who stuck closer than a brother: my stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh bear. He accompanied me into every surgery prep, and waited for me in every recovery room. He was there for me to hug, and to cry into, he let me practice with a hypodermic needle on him so that I had someone who knew how I felt. I played with him, slept with him, talked to him. When I was stuck inside sick, I would create fantastic adventures for us to go on in the bed that became a life raft on the high seas, a rocket in space, a tank rumbling through Normandy. I kept him close for years, past an age most would consider normal, but the bond was hard to explain andf harder to break. He eventually became so loved, so worn, that his eyes, throat and parts of his arms had been replaced with mismatched cloth, his nose with a button, and his fabric, in the end, so worn that it couldn't hold a stitch. In short, he was my velveteeen rabbit. I still have him, unreparable, sealed in a ziplock back and kept in a box of keepsakes.

He was a silly old bear. But he was loyal, and patient, and he was my partner in expeditions through my own "Hundred Acre Wood".

UPDATE:

I really should have mentioned Dr. Seuss, but while his death is arguably the most remembered of all those I've mentioned, he never had the emotional impact on me that the others did. I enjoyed Cat-in-the-Hat. I lived for Muppets, Pooh, and Looney Tunes. Also, I'll add a couple of extra happy memories, just to make up for the tears.

The Feared Redhead and I met over the phone, long distance, introduced by mutual friends. We had been conversing on the phone for months and had long since fallen in love before we ever met in person, at Minneapolis-St. Paul International. We needed to have a way of identifying each other, so, based on my story of growing up with Pooh, and her feisty redheadedness, we exchanged gifts -- a stuffed pooh from her to me, a stuffed Tigger from me to her.

We have gone to great lengths to deck The Lad out in Winniebilia -- Classic Pooh in particular. Crib sheets, stroller, all sorts of knicknacks. But the coup de grace happened this weekend when, at a garage sale, I found as boxed set of Winnie the Pooh, House at Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young, and Now We Are Six, all in excellent condition, all for four dollars.

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