This weekend I broke the heart of a man working at the Build a Bear Workshop.
Saturday. 11:45 am. Local shopping mall. I've already been up, showered, had my hair cut, and scoured the giagantor Chinook Centre for a teddy bear that would fit the specifications Gary outlined.
See, we were going to a first birthday party at 1:00 that afternoon, and this bear needed to be PERFECT. Usually yes, I am crazy psychotic about finding the perfect gift for everyone in my life, but this gift came with newer, higher, Karate-Kid-Tournament style stakes.
Because this gift needed to be WAY, WAY better than the gift of someone else attending that party: Gary's ex-girlfriend.
So here I am, in the Stufed Bear Shopping Olympics, frazzled OUT OF MY MIND because I cannot, for the life of me, find a stuffed toy that costs less than $40 (WHO SPENDS THAT MUCH ON A STUFFED TOY?!), is soft, cuddly, and brightly coloured. This baby must fall in love with this toy immediately upon opening it. This toy must become this child's constant companion for the REST OF HER LIFE. This is the toy that she will have imaginary tea parties with. This is the toy that she will clutch to her chest and sob her pre-teen angsty tears into when that cute boy in math class that she tooootally loves makes out with her best friend under the bleachers during soccer practice. This is the toy that she will wistfully hold up when packing to move away for University, and then gingerly place back on her bed in her childhood bedroom. This is the toy that her mother will sneak back into the packing boxes to make sure that her little girl has a familiar friend that first scary night in the dorm.
This was a big deal, people.
Rapidly running out of time, I rush into my last resort: the Build a Bear workshop.
Inside there are groups of tykes running around with half-stuffed bears covered in sparkle, making wishes on little hearts and singing little chanty songs and picking out tutus and football jerseys and hats for their new best friends.
And I march in, grab a bear of the display stand, dash to the counter and start loudly shrieking "excuse me! excuse me!" over the din.
I catch the attention of a middle aged sales clerk. (aside: I'm sure he's lovely, but that's sort of a creepy job for a middle aged man...)
I tell him that I'm not interested in making wishes or stuffing kisses or chanty songs. I don't want to hop around in a circle and give my bear a name and print out a birth certificate. I don't want to build the damn thing, I just want to buy it.
Softly, he whispers, "don't you even want to dress him up?"
NO. I DO NOT. HERE IS MY MASTERCARD.
Making polite conversation, he asks me if this is a gift. I reply, yes. For a first birthday.
I saw his soul shriver, people. Right there in front of me, I watched a man's heart break.
But man, the baby LOVED that bear.