LC Van Savage
I don't like to give baby presents. Oh, I like babies. They're fine. It's not that. It's just that when they're born, or even before they're born, everyone showers gifts on the little weenies, and while those gifts are needed and greatly appreciated, I just refuse to give a baby a baby gift. They get too much baby stuff when they're still in Stage One Prune, and I for one don't like to be responsible for turning them into materialistic little greedheads. No, it's not for me to bedazzle them with more receiving blankets when they've already received 31, along with 46 pairs of onesies and enough booties to shoe a large colony of octopi. Nope. The gift I give has to be different from all that infant stuff. But what?
Not stuffed animals. Why does everyone give newborns stuffed animals? The babies have no idea what on earth they are, they don't do anything like give milk or change a diaper, and they don't even move, so what's the point? I think giving stuffed animals to a new baby is a cop-out because the giver couldn't think of anything else to give. Or, that the giver fell in love with the little creature in the store and just couldn't resist buying it, so in fact that cute stuffed toy is really for the giver and not the newbie givee, right? I wonder if those givers ever secretly resent having to give up that sweet little stuffed thing to a phlegmatic newborn.
I think stuffed animals should be given to older kids, toddlers, when they can imbue them with life, name them, take them everywhere, talk to them in bed at night, love and protect them and feel protected by them.
I have a younger brother named Stuart. He too was given a lot of stuffed animals when he was born, but none of them took. However, when he was about three, he adopted two. One was a leopard he named "Leppy." Leppy had button eyes which eventually fell off and my little brother was ever so grateful when I sewed new eyes onto Leppy's battered face with black darning thread, just two woven lumpy protuberances, but at least they never fell off. Today my little brother is a very palmy stockbroker, but would he return the favor by giving me just the occasional wee tip on what's hot and what's not? Oh, noooo! Course not. I should've let Leppy go blind.
Stuie's other beloved stuffed pet was of all things, a platypus. His name was "Dinkum" which in Australia I think means honest or genuine or something. Dinkum was really adorable, and my little brother took him everywhere. Dinkum was a good replica of a platypus, an animal that's continued to fascinate me since long before Dinkum got discarded the day my brother went to Yale.
I really don't know what all the fuss is about the origins of the platypus. Just because it's a furry, web-footed, flat tailed egg-laying mammal with a bill, is no big mystery. It should be pretty obvious to anyone that a few zillion centuries ago, a lonely duck and a lonely beaver met on a lonely river and, well, you know how it is. A few too many belts of eau de riviere, a nice sunset, and one thing led to another. Any beaver in a storm, as they say, and all ducks look pretty good after dark. The offspring of that one night stand turned out to be a platypus, although I can't think how "platypus" is at all a blending of "beaver" and "duck" but there's no accounting for how the minds of biologists work. Later I guess more beavers came along and met up with more ducks and well, the platypus population just exploded and that's how platypi got invented. Simple.
So from now on, I'm going to be giving all newborns something they can enjoy when they're older, like a state of the art potty-chair or a good bicycle pump. OK, maybe also a stuffed toy, if I can find another Dinkum. Anyone out there know where there's a platypus store?
"To Norma Jeane with Love, Jimmie"
co-authored with Marilyn Monroe's first husband,
is at local bookstores.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org