When I woke up, the sheets were peeled back, my wife was gone, and in her place a small, toy bear was blurting out to the blurry, inky night, “I’m a bear!”
Abbi burst into the room.
“It just turned itself on,” she said in a whispered-frenzy. “And it won’t turn off! Maggie’s wide awake in her crib.”
It was nearly four o’clock in the morning.
The bear was a Christmas present from the grandparents. It was slightly larger then my clinched fist. It’s body was hard, red plastic with flashing numbers on it’s distended midsection. It’s matted, yellow fabric head held two wide, googly eyes. It’s arms were perpetually hugging. It repeated one saccharine, song comprised of warbling blips and beeps, plus three phrases in an oddly-accented, slightly-feminine, and completely-cloying electronic voice, including one Abbi and I had taken into our parental shorthand on account of its being both an absurd, non-sequitur and — in the case of this hard, plastic toy — a complete untruth:
“Bears have thick fur!”
Still, Maggie loved its flashing lights, and fished it out of her toy basket consistently. And it seemed to be teaching her to talk, or emote, or giggle, anyway. Which was good enough for us.
Abbi raced out of the room leaving me alone with the bear’s sad song and flashing lights bleating like a police siren in the cold, quiet city night. I stared at it, half-asleep, and completely puzzled.
“Scratch my belly!” it demanded.
“We have to shut it off.”
I resisted the urge to throw the bear out the window, then picked it up, and jammed it under the mattress.
“I’m a bear!” it protested through the thick padding, muffled but defiantly audible.
“Better?” I asked.
“For who!?! Now we’ll hear it all night!” she said, laughing at me before charging out of the room one last time. She returned quickly brandished our 20-speed, variable-torque, rechargeable Makita power drill — a bazooka to slay a tsetse fly. With her iPhone flashlight for illumination, Abbi flipped the bear on its head, and unscrewed it’s battery door.
“Bears have thick –”
The bear fell silent.
Maggie stopped crying.
Abbi and I climbed back under the sheets.
“Silencing an electronic talking bear with a power drill and an iPhone flashlight?” I whispered. “First world problem.”
And we fell back into a deep, tranquil dreams populated by furless, angry talking bears.