15 December 2005

Sparkles: A Survivor's Story


Though he’s been a shade of dingy gray since the mid-70s, his name has always been Sparkles. He’s my 35-year-old stuffed Snoopy that I’ve had my entire life. While his ears and the majority of his facial features are long gone, Sparkles is a survivor – a sole survivor, actually. Originally there were three of them: Gorky, Sparkles and Woodman. To this day, I haven’t the faintest idea where we conjured up the names Gorky and Sparkles. Woodman, however, was a miniature Snoopy with a thick furrowed brow that gave him a similar countenance to that of Mr. Woodman, the vice principal from Welcome Back, Kotter.


Where I viewed the Snoopies as my best pals, my mother viewed them as rampant bacteria traps and a threat to public health. To prevent their untimely demise in a green trash bag, I had to subject them to an intense three-day cleaning ritual. Every few months, my mother put the Snoopies, who were not machine washable, into the washing machine where they became so waterlogged they were virtually unliftable. After one round in the dryer, they would be moved to the sun porch where – lined up like sunbathers on a Bionic Woman beach towel – they would dry out for three days, which seemed like an eternity to me.

Inevitably, tragedy struck one afternoon. Sparkles and Gorky emerged, dripping and sodden, from the washing machine but Woodman did not make it -- he’d completely disintegrated. I watched in horror as my mother scooped his linty remains from the inside of the washing machine with a measuring cup. A few months later, Gorky was beheaded in the same machine.
Luckily, Sparkles was a little heartier but over time his nose and ears became a casualty of the spin cycle. On a mission of mercy, my grandmother Nana Ree, turned one of my stuffed bunnies into an involuntary donor, transplanting his nose onto Sparkle’s naked snout and his ears onto his ill-shaped head. Then, realizing how stressed out I was every time wash day came around, Nana Ree uncovered some revolutionary dry cleaning solution for plush animals in Family Circle magazine that involved cornmeal and a semi-damp cloth. Sparkles never entered the washing machine again. He’s since lost his transplants but he’s still with us, and that’s what’s most important.

14 comments:

Code Red said...

Little did Sparkles, Gorky and Woodman know they were unwillingly entered into a game of "Survivor: East Boston." I had a 33 year-old Raggedy Ann doll who, two years ago, fell victim to a flood in the basement of my Charlestown apartment. I found her sopping with rancid water and, now officially raggedy, had to bid her farewell. My other childhood doll "Muffin" survives to this day in a box along with some other memorabilia in Kate and Jamie's basement in Eastie. That is.... unless Lois has gotten her hands on her?! GULP.

wmd said...

The Silence of The Lambie and the Sparkles story are probably endearing to most but they trouble me. They trouble me because they make me realize what a horrible parent I will be. I wasn't aware of the attachment children have to these things.

Usually whenever one of my neices or nephews cry over something like a broken toy or missing doll I simply say "Awww, sorry honey, I know you're upset. But you know, every time you cry a puppy dies and Santa gets real sick."... I may have to re-think this approach but I've got to be honest, it works so I'll probably stick with it.

BAGS said...

All of this talk of clinging on to old sentimental objects that are falling apart reminds me of the POS 1997 Ford Explorer that I've been driving for [almost] the past ten years.

No stuffed animal stories from me. However, Celine had a childhood bear named Dudley, which Patch mauled about a year ago. He took the dirt nap shortly after that incident. Good times, good times.

KJ said...

WMD-I guess small children appreciate your fresh-faced honesty and gore. However, I do not believe this approach worked when small children wielding sticks at the Gangi's cookout this past summer hunted you down, chanting "Loooserr, looooserrr." I believe you shot back with "I am NOT a loser," elephant-man style.

Anonymous said...

Dudley is Dead?????? It seems like just yesterday I was out in front of Scanlon Hall helping Celine fasten his seat belt in the passenger seat of someone's borrowed car for a trip back to Needham!

Kate- I think Sparkles looks like million bucks - all things considered!

KW

wmd said...

They will get theirs, KJ. As payback for their little Lord of the Flies stunt, I am penning them each a letter from Santa stating Christmas is cancelled because of them and he will be telling all their friends at school that they eat their boogers.

KJ said...

Hold on now...I could swear I saw Dudley in Cohasset over the summer. Was it a ghost?

KJ said...

WMD-I think you should audition for Nanny 911..You'd make millions as the Italian Papa who rules with a fist full of ricotta.

wmd said...

"rules with a fist full of ricotta" is now on the list with "over-rated shitmonkey"... awesome

James said...

ALRIGHT TIME TO COME CLEAN....
I LIED!
I tell this story knowing the wrath I will face but feel its one that the Pointy Universe will appreciate.

This is the real story how Lambie ended up in the trash. While cleaning up for the Christmas party all of the kids' toys and stuffed animals including Lambie went into the garage. It snowed like a bastard the following Friday which gave me the first opportunity to use my new snowblower. It being a new machine I had to check to see if it came with oil. After pulling the dip stick I realized I had nothing to clean it with. Sooooooo as I looked around I saw poor lambie looking at me. Yes the thought crossed my mind that Lambie might have a few more good days left but Caroline has moved on to Renny and Baby Annabell (who burps).
So I used Lambie to clean the oil and tossed it. My only mistake was not burying it far enough. Lesson Learned.

Had Sparkles been looking at me he would have remained untouched. I may be heartless but I'm no fool.

SAC said...

James-
Lambie, after her cleaning of the oil, would surely look better sprayed across your lawn through the 8HP Snowblower. Come Spring 2006, nobody would have been the wiser, even the wisest of wise men.
But, your confession on the Pointy Universe does not cleanse the soul so I expect you to attend a Catholic contrition this weekend and bend over and take it like a good alter boy does....

Celine said...

One of my favorite things about Sparkles is his voice. It's so strong yet so soothing. I remember one stormy night in Eastie sitting at Kate's kitchen table and Sparkles was imparting his words of wisdom on various topics. We listened and drank heavily, moving from one bottle of wine to the next. Sparkles is WISE beyond his years...

lp said...

There is rumor that secret tapes of an NPR interview with Sparkles were stolen and tampered with back in the late 70's. A wily swindler dubbed his own voice over Sparkles on the original recordings and Sparkles has not talked to the media since. Perhaps he'll break his silence to weigh in on this Lambie incident...

As for YOU, James: how would you feel if we took your "Mother Weymouth" Varsity Jacket or LAX cutoff sweatshirts and used them to sponge paint the bathroom? Huh? Huh? Poor Lambie.

Code Red said...

If Caroline doesn't keep her wits about her, James may try to use Renny as a shammy to dry off his freshly washed truck.