Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Among the things I do that my spouse finds incomprehensible, possibly reprehensible, is the purchasing, collecting and display of stuffed animals.  Animals skulls, that's OK, but toys are gross somehow.

For a while, my menagerie was lined up along the window seat in our room, next to my side of the bed, where I could look at them arrayed just so, otter next to hippo next to goat next to gorilla.  I also admit that there is one, Baby Dog, that has slept in the bed with me a LOT, especially in the interval between Jasper and Mr Burns.  He is missing a nose, thanks to Jas, and his fur is well-loved and matted.

One or two of my animals are hand-me-ups, toys of The Kid's that became mine somehow.  Others I did buy, on visits to aquaria or zoos or what-have-you.  Like the sloth purchased following a field trip with my Mammalogy class a year ago, after spending an incredulous 20 minutes watching a two-toed sloth hang around and eat.  The toy was too funny to pass up, too cute with its goofy three-toed paws.  I held it in my lap all the way home.

Now Sloth and the rest are all piled up in a basket on the shelf in my closet.  Mr Burns is unable to distinguish between my toys and his toys and it simply became too tiresome to be constantly vigilant lest I should find him, guilty, hippo between his teeth.  

But last night Sloth came down for a visit.  I found him a new spot, perched on top of my stack of 2011 Books, out of reach of inquisitive flesh-and-blood animals.

I had to take the risk.  We'd just watched an absolutely ridiculous show about a sloth sanctuary entitled, appropriately, "Too Cute, Baby Sloths."   Sloths are so weird and wonderful and adorable, I want to go straight to Costa Rica every time I see an image of one or think about the possibility of those funny claws holding on to me, long long arms draped around my neck.  In my way of thinking, you need your Grinch checked if you don't think this is cute:

And I'm feeling inspired by sloths this morning, thinking of their super slo-mo movements as I myself move around slowly, nursing this monstrous problem in my low back that makes sitting up in bed a twenty-minute operation.  I cry tears of pain but mostly of frustration, crying because it hurts but also out of an acute desperate mourning of my agile, rapid self, lost to me for now.  Instead I'm like Sloth, carefully extending one limb, pause, then the next, pause, trying to keep a goofy smile on my face.

I won't lie: it does make me happy to open my eyes and see an array of silly stuffed animals placed just-so, reminding me of how amazing animals are in real life, how lucky we are to share this space with them.  The stuffed animals, and the animal skulls, and the books -- all of it in front of my eyes, standing in for everything I love most: the world around us and the creatures in it, our human capacity to take it in, interpret it, give it back in the form of toys and stories. How great is that?

If you have a moment, click through and watch a baby sloth video or two, pay a visit to the slothpital.  Seeing so much cuteness is bound to be good for you. 

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