One of my favorite things about New York City is what you lose and what you find. Four years ago in Park Slope, on my way to a Kevin Young reading, I came across an unworn pair of Frye cowboy boots in just my size. I still wear them. Last week, in the backseat of a cab, I sat on someone’s sock and belt. What about the lone latex glove? (You never find a pair.) Or playing cards? Nothing says Something Wicked This Way Comes quite like an upturned Ace of Spades on a blustery day—unless it’s a Monopoly Chance card on your front stoop.
Objects are the original storytellers. When I first moved from Astoria to Brooklyn, Fireman Tim offered to drive my bric-a-brac in a flatbed truck. We didn’t secure it too well. I figured out, a week later, that the boxes I thought were in the kitchen were somewhere on the side of the BQE. One of the boxes was The Ex-Boyfriend Box. I actually labeled it BOx with a Sharpe because his name was Bo. What was in the BOx, besides pictures and cute notes and dried flowers?
This is Cat. There was also a dog named Dog and a bunny named Mouse. Or maybe it was a bear named Dog? I can’t remember anymore. Stay with me. Bo and I used to frequent Build A Bear. If you’ve ever been to Build a Bear, you know that it makes Hallmark appear unfeeling. First you select your animal friend and then you stuff it with fluff (sorry, “love”) by pumping on a pedal attached to a cotton candy machine and then you pick out a mini cloth heart–a heart!–and you make a wish on that heart and then you fill out the birth certificate and then you record a personal message on a pacemaker that gets implanted into its furry little inanimate chest. Next to the heart. That you wished on.
What all this amounts to is more pain. When we broke up I couldn’t just throw these stuffed animals out. Do you throw out your children after a divorce? For months after, I would roll over onto Dog in the middle of the night and trigger the voice activator and startle myself out of sleep with “Love you!” and dry off my eyes with whatever paw was closest.
Dog even went off once while I was having sex with someone else.
I still think about who found the stuffed animals that utter sentiments in my ex-boyfiend’s voice when you squeeze them. Are they in a New Jersey landfill? A Sunnyside Goodwill? Ebay? Is there a blogger who arranges them on her piano in funny poses?
I recently found this in the lobby of my office building:
Who knew a penis was an animal without a backbone? Apparently Ralph Buchsbaum, author of this Brooklyn College Biology textbook from 1953. And not just from 1953: from Feb 9, 1953, according to the stamp. It belonged to J. Greene. What makes me so sure?
Of course I googled J Greene Animals and J Greene Professor and J Greene Invertebrates. Because this textbook looks inspirational. I’m sure J Greene graduated to a successful career in Zoology. I’m not as interesed in the book as I am in its owner. I came up with a Miranda J Greene who wrote Animals in Celtic Life and Myth.
I’m going to send her the book on the company’s Fed Ex.
I’m patiently awating the return of my stuffed animals.