I’ve been around my share of bears in my day. Oh no, not real ones! I’m not crazy; I’m referring to the talking, necktie-wearing, pick-a-nick basket stealing, snuggly-soft, shirt-no-pants variety. These guys, I’m generally cool with. Sure, Pooh had an unhealthy addiction to honey; Yogi was a petty thief—and a repeat offender; the Snuggle Bear fought the Battletanks, lost, was rebuilt into a bionic bear…and lost again.
But there’s been one of these muthafuckas I’ve hated for years.
When I was 12, a company called Worlds of Wonder decided the thing that was missing in little kids’ lives was a bear that would talk back to them. That could read stories to them. So they made one. Around the holidays in 1985 came this talking-ass, creepy-ass, storytime-ass bear, Teddy Ruxpin.
Now you might be thinking, “Dude, it’s a toy. It’s a teddy bear.” And if you were there, your face is all wrinkled up with “C’mon man, Teddy Ruxpin was awesome!” Yeah, whatever. Teddy Ruxpin scared me. That’s why I’m pissed. Read the paragraph above-I was 12, right? Far too old to be creeped out by some talking bear in a short set. Okay, so let me tell you what happened.
Back in the glorious days of the 80s, when they had entire TV shows dedicated to what the upcoming fall cartoons would be, when Molly Ringwald proved you didn’t have to be buxom to put lipstick on with your boobs, back when someone had the bright idea that shoulder pads were sexy—back in the fantastical 80s there used to be multiple toy stores. Toys R Us actually had competition and one of those stores was Children’s Palace. Now, being 12 and in the 80s and in between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (which meant we hadn’t confirmed if Darth Vader was Luke’s dad or not), my brother and I were infatuated with all things Star Wars. On Saturdays, we’d take our allowances and go and buy a starship (him) and a playset (me).
On one of those fateful Saturdays, we went to Children’s Palace eager to buy a TIE Fighter and a Hoth world playset. I get in the store and there are aisles—AISLES—of Teddy Ruxpins. Hundreds of them. It was a little creepy. But that wasn’t what did it. I saw all those bears, had seen the commercials and watched Teddy reading stories to little kids and I stood in front of one of the boxes and said, “I thought he was supposed to come to life! He doesn’t do anything! Ol raggedy bear!” I must have been too close to one of the demo bears because Teddy woke up. He woke up! His eyes rolled around and he looked at me and said, “Hi! I’m Teddy Ruxpin. Will you be my friend?”
I screamed. Like a girl. High and loud. And I ran. I ran deep into Children’s Palace, yelling about Teddy Ruxpin coming to life, thinking that he was possessed like something out of Poltergeist. No, I don’t want to be your fucking friend. No, I don’t wanna read a story. I wanna buy my Hoth world playset with snowsuit Han Solo and go home. Look at that—my big ass hugging my dad because I was scared of Teddy Fucking Ruxpin.
I lost all my cool points that day. I’ve been mad about it ever since.
Freaky fucking bear.
Say what you wanna say. I don’t care. He’s my villain because he scared the shit outta me.
PS: YES! Entertainment re-released Teddy Ruxpin for some ungodly reason. That fun factoid makes the damn bear my Y in the A to Z Challenge. Tomorrow is A to Z Free Day. For the Celebration, though, we’ll be looking at one of the recognizable and influential Bond villains, ever, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.