One : My Mission
Some may find the following disturbing, if you are of a nervous disposition, stop reading now. Some may find the following offensive, if you are of a teddy-bear-owning-girlfriend disposition, stop reading now.
Stephen King and Wes Craven have written some very scary things but they have shrunk from tackling the ultimate horror: the girlfriend's teddy. However, I am neither as squeamish nor as hesitant as they, I think the world should wake up and take notice of this terror lurking in our midst. It is not without some trepidation that I approach this subject: not only am I risking the malevolent wrath of the teddies themselves but also the mafia-like organisation known as the female of the species (a.k.a. people with bumpy fronts) who have been known to launch world-wide vendettas over far more trivial matters. But I will not shirk my responsibility and commitment to bringing this truly frightening matter to the attention of the world (even though I may have to go into hiding).
Two : First Encounter
The first encounter with a girlfriend's teddy is usually on that occasion when one has first gained entrance to the girlfriend's boudoir. This may not be for any nefarious purpose [I will use this euphemism henceforth to cover all the blush-making activities that can go on in bedrooms such as macramé, cataloguing stamp collections or listening to Rush albums, etc.]; one may simply be depositing one's coat on the bed that is being used as a cloakroom during a party or politely enquiring when we all switched to decimal time since there now appear to be ten minutes in an hour (as in "I'll only be 10 minutes getting ready..."). But this first encounter with the girlfriend's teddy-bear is truly frightening: the sneer, the up-turned nose and the glassy-eyed stare all conspire to say: "Hey, pal, don't you think you're anything special, I've been sleeping with her for years". It is at this point that many relationships end abruptly (although the comments about the time it takes to "just brush my hair and put on a new top" are a contributing factor); this, of course, is the teddy's game plan.
Even more scary are the owners of multiple teddy bears but this is one territory where I really fear to tread - which proves there are some things that should truly never be mentioned in public. Just imagining more than one teddy staring up at me from the bedspread at me is enough to give me nightmares for several months.
There is, obviously, no correct way of dealing with the teddy on this first encounter. Like the perpetual motion machine, the idea that a female could deem any act by a male as correct is the stuff of myth and legend: there is a vast body of fantasy fiction - written by males - which deals with this impossible scenario, but that is another subject for another time.
However, there are certain damage-limitation strategies which the astute male can adopt to ensure that the relationship proceeds towards the fulfilment of nefarious purposes. We begin with the things not to do.
Firstly - this should go without saying - asking the girlfriend why she has that moth-eaten hairy rag on her bed is not a tactic likely to endear one to either the teddy-bear or the girlfriend: indeed, this tactic has been responsible for a large number of admissions to Accident and Emergency departments. Secondly, do not try the grin of male camaraderie with the teddy-bear; do not attempt to bond with the teddy-bear: this is a losing strategy since teddy-bears bond with no-one except their owner (I have to admit failure in researching the existence of bear-on-bear bonding in the multiple-bear-owning-girlfriend scenario: I am not Superman after all). Thirdly, ignoring the bear is not an option: it may please the teddy but it will annoy the girlfriend and thoroughly scupper any chance of indulging in nefarious purposes.
So, what is the astute male to do? Firstly, smiling - not grinning - at the bear is acceptable. Secondly, always say, with a smile, something like "What a cute bear, have you had him a long time?" and, fixing your smile with the strongest superglue you can find, be prepared to listen to ten minutes (at least) of "What, old teddykins [or snugglepuss; or bobbybear; or whatever], he's such a cutsie, cuddly little darling thing, he keeps me company on my lonely nights..." [beware, this is not necessarily an invitation to indulge in nefarious purposes]. Thirdly - and this will require all your courage and a particularly strong stomach (it's best not to attempt this after drinking but sometimes that can help) - take the bear by the paw and introduce yourself: "Hi, teddykins, I'm [insert name here - you might want to lie], I hope we're going to be friends". [Excuse me, I need to go and lie down after writing that].
Following this strategy will greatly increase the chances of the relationship proceeding to nefarious purposes, however, the atmosphere is more greatly laden with sweat-dripping, gut-wrenching fear when nefarious purposes are, indeed, afoot.
Three : Living with Teddy
Well, not so much "living with teddy" and "what to do with teddy when nefarious purposes are afoot". I can only offer you guidelines in this matter and cannot guarantee their success.
Do not throw teddy on the floor, into the waste bin or out of the window: the girlfriend will not be pleased but will probably call an ambulance on your behalf.
Do not leave teddy in the bed, no matter how much the girlfriend insists, as he will try and join in (although you might be lucky, depending on your choice of activity: most teddy bears aren't all that keen on Rush).
Come to terms with the fact that teddy is going to see you naked and stare and sneer (macramé and philately are definitely improved by performing them naked; listening to Rush albums naked may be an improvement, all I can say is that it can be no worse than listening to them fully clothed).
Place teddy on the floor, kindly. It doesn't matter where: all teddy bears can see round corners and tilt their heads so that their glassy stare uses multiple mirror-reflections to form an impromptu periscope to watch the proceedings. Just accept that teddy is going to watch and is going to sneer at your performance.
Be aware that teddy will exact revenge no matter what you do or say. When you wake up in the morning with a bruise on your leg it will be teddy's doing and have nothing to with falling out of bed because you were tying a particularly difficult knot, energetically cataloguing an early 20th century Mauritius 3-cent blue with the pornographic watermark (which Stanley Gibbons makes no mention of) or attempting to understand the lyrics of (or, indeed, the reason for the existence of) 2112.
The girlfriend's teddy bear will always be there, lurking and smirking. You've either got to learn to tolerate it or take up train-spotting.
Four : Afterwords
- Sorry, Mark, for the jokes about listening to Rush; but you know it was bound to happen sometime.
- I originally planned for this post to feature pictures of the subject. However, the firewall on my internet connection prevents the downloading of such frightening images without a special government license.
- I have applied for armed protection by Special Branch in anticipation of the fatwah which I strongly suspect will be issued against my person by that proportion of the human population which can adopt the rôle of girlfriend.
- 2112 is an album by Rush if you didn't know (or hadn't guessed).