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When The Going Gets Stuffed... My boyfriend of seven months, who’s 43, just moved in with me. Several days ago, he unpacked his “stuffed animal collection,” which consists of 12 teddy bears given to him by ex-girlfriends, and perched them all on the top of our couch. Am I petty to let this bother me? Some of them say things like “Love Margie” or “Happy Valentines Day, baby.”

--Invaded


Who knew in-your-face hostility could be so furry and cute? But, there it is, all “Love Margie,” in a little motorcycle jacket and a tiny scarf and goggles on the teenage girl’s bedspread that used to be your living room couch.

At what point do you stop parsing how petty is too petty so you can unzip your skin and run away screaming? Now, to be fair, I have a friend who’s into stuffed animals. Her name is Sophie, and she’s 7. Your boyfriend, on the other hand, is a grown man -- somebody who shaves, pays taxes and will soon get prostate exams -- and he collects teddy bears? And, no, he didn’t amass all 12 by accident, with each girlfriend arriving at the idea herself: “Whoops, I have yet to buy my big, hairy, adult male boyfriend a stuffed toy!”

Personally, I’d be less creeped out by a boyfriend with a collection of brains in Mason jars (providing he mail-ordered them from Body Parts “R” Us and didn’t just help himself to parting gifts from my predecessors). But, there you are, neck deep in Edgar Allan Poe meets Winnie The Pooh, wondering whether you’re being fair. What, exactly, is a dealbreaker for you? A guy who brings his mom on dates? One who wears diapers, and not because he leaks? Or are you more of a classicist, drawing the line at a guy who keeps his mother’s skeleton in the attic, dresses up in her clothes, and runs around waving a long knife to a Bernard Herrmann soundtrack?

If somebody’s a wack job (and we all are on some level), the least they can do is be discreet -- especially if their particular brand of wack involves a retrospective of their ex-girlfriends in stuffed-animal form. Your boyfriend could have a secret cache of teddy bears at his storage space, complete with a little altar that lights up, and a tiny table and chairs where he and the bears can have naked tea parties. Instead, he’s installed his ménagerie à twelve in your living room -- probably because reminding you and himself of Margie and friends is the point. Awww, the poor dear, he must not have gotten the right kind of mommying as a child. Why should he sweat the abandonment issues now, when it’s so much easier to shove this cuddly-wuddly wall between you?

Maybe, if you can get him to go suck his thumb in some therapist’s office, he might someday join you in an adult relationship. Then again, maybe your energy would be better spent on your own behavioral shortcomings, lest you find yourself asking the next guy in your life, “Shall I clear a wall for a photo gallery of your former girlfriends?” Feel that long bumpy strip down the center of your back? That’s a spine, waiting to be used -- whenever somebody motions you to remain prone so they can more conveniently wipe their feet on your back. It’s hard enough coming to a respectful compromise with a boyfriend who wants to hang his neon Bud sign in your French Country living room. When a guy decorates in Early Ex-Girlfriend, where do you even start? My suggestion: Call up the Playskool bus, and see if they’ve got room for a large, unshaven child with 13 stuffed bears.

Posted by aalkon at February 15, 2006 11:16 AM

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Comments

These toys are a message from his previous girlfriends. Give him another one, and run, as fast as you can.

Posted by: Norman at February 14, 2006 11:56 PM

Yipes -- I just hope she can get him the hell out of her house without trauma. To her.

I

Posted by: deirdre B. at February 15, 2006 3:43 AM

Wow. Passive aggressive, much? I wouldn't be so much concerned that they're teddy bears as the fact that they're momentos of past girl friends. Why put those in your living room? Is he trying to send a not-so-subtle message about his conquests, or is it a fuzzy trophy collection? Who knows, but I would *so* not be comfortable with that.

Hell, my husband has a pair of coffee cups. One cup says "The Captain" and the other says "The Captain's Lady". Then there's a third cup, covered with hearts and Happy Valentine's Day sayings. These cups were giving me fits because I was wondering if he still had a fling for an ex. I finally asked him and it turned out that the set of mugs was a garage sale purchase because he liked "The Captain" one, and the heart mug was from his sister with chocolate in it. Needless to say, relics of relationships past are NOT a good thing.

Finally, I think I'd let him know that either the bears go, or he AND the bears go.

Posted by: Anne at February 15, 2006 8:47 AM

Every time I read your column, I feel really healthy and well adjusted afterwards. For a little while anyways.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher at February 15, 2006 9:42 AM

I don't see anything wrong with my collection of exhusbands buried out in the back yard. The real test is to hide one of the teddy bears and see how nutso he goes. Or hide them all and say you've donated them to good will. Or better yet make a bunch of little nooses and hang them. Start your own collection of hunter dolls with guns. Or pose them in various positions and take pictures. The kindest one is a suggestion to donate them to a good cause, toys for tots or hurricane Katrina victims, but they would eventually have to go.

Posted by: chicknlady at February 15, 2006 9:52 PM

"I


Deirdre - is that an emoticon or a typo? I couldn't find it in my emoticon dictionary :-) and wonder what you meant (apart from the comment about "prone" which agree with).

Posted by: Norman at February 17, 2006 5:40 AM

Norman, perhaps you didn't see it for some reason, but the "I" was followed by a left angle bracket, which is also the mathematical "lesser than" symbol, which looks like this:

The angle bracket was followed by the number 3. The two together are supposed to be a heart, so yes, it is an emoticon. She was saying, "I love Amy for knowing the correct meaning of the word 'prone.'"

Now, that that's settled, some of you had some very interesting ideas for experimenting on this creepazoid. I'd be interested in seeing how he would react one of the bears missing. "Pant... pant... where's the bear that Stephanie GAVE MEEEEEE!" as he lumbers about the house wielding a baseball bat, smashing lamps and overturning furniture.

It would be interesting to know the results of this experiment, but I'd be a little too creeped out by the fact that he's in my house to want to try anything on him, other than getting him out again.

I suspect the bears are more of a "reassurance thing" for him...and a warning to her. It may not be the bears themselves so much as the number. "See? I've had twelve girls all crazy about me, so you better tow the line, babe, because there will be tons more if you don't work out."

Just a theory, of course. We may never know. Or care.

Posted by: Patrick at February 18, 2006 10:09 AM

WOW!! This is what I needed on a rainy San Diego Sunday! Very funny responses. I think on some level all the speculative responses regarding the dude and the 12 bears were acurate. To be 43 and that ridiculous seems a bit sketchy.

Mia Muse

Posted by: Mia Muse at February 19, 2006 1:59 PM

I am not a teddy bear fan - never have been, but what is the big deal? Is your mouth so broken that you can't open it up and say, "Hey look, I don't like teddy bears." He might well think he's being sweet and even if he's not, it's nothing for you to say so. Does he drink? Chase other women? Beat you? Do you like his company and conversation? Do you feel happy when he's in the room? Is he fun in bed? These things matter more than a pile of stuffed animals.

Posted by: Cassandra Helm at February 25, 2006 11:58 AM

I, for one, see nothing inherently wrong with adults who collect "children's" toys. I personally know a seventy-something woman in my area who has a large collection of santas that she leaves on display year round. I know a nuclear family with children aged 6-17 and whose entire house is eclectically decorated with angels, dolls, model airplanes, trains, etc. I am 22 myself, and I still have several dolls and stuffed animals out where I see them every day. So the stuffed animals themselves definitely are not an issue.

What may be more of an issue is that they contain messages of love from his exes. Love is a strong emotion, but unfortunately, one that does not always last. And people who carry prominent reminders of their past relationships may upset new partners, even if they are not bothered themselves by the symbols of ex-love. I believe that among the most frequently regretted tattoos are those that symbolize love for a particular person. If one ever falls out of love with that person, the tattoo may be a painful reminder of a painful relationship for the person who has it, as well as troubling to future partners.

Well, you may not all agree with me, but I feel like I have given you some food for thought.

Posted by: Andrea Parton at February 27, 2006 8:23 AM

Hi Goddess,
did she not notice the stuff animals when she visiter her boyfriend at his place?? Did she not wonder right there and then what was wrong with this picture? A Red Flag to run as fast as one can in an opposite direction comes in many form and shape and this one was impossible to miss...My advice to her is tell him, the stuff toys or me, or she could always do a collage of any pictures, letters, cards that she ever received from previous lovers, have it frame and mounted it on the wall over the couch..and see how he likes that.
Best
Anne

Posted by: Anne Howard at March 3, 2006 9:54 AM

If the guy's anything like me, I love collecting teddy bears from women this way! I can't help it, but as each girl discovers my teddy-bear passion, she gets so freaked out and panicked the Hitchcockian weirdness of it all that she becomes desperate to break off the relationship, yet without offending me. So, in order to stay on my good side (you don't want to see my bad side), she is forced to do the most diplomatic thing: buy me a teddy bear and kiss me good-by! I have collected literally hundreds of wonderful cuddly teddys this way! Girlfriends be damned, I am absolutely determined to break the Guinness book of records with the formidable magnitude and scope of my magnificent teddy bear collection!

Posted by: Courtney at March 3, 2006 10:40 AM

i would love to read about your views about men like me who have a bdeep love of panties.i wear panties 24/7 and have been for 20 plus years i love the sight or panties.even seeing the pantielines on awomen/girl turns me on my wife supports my love of panties

Posted by: joe at March 10, 2006 4:58 AM

you're a sick fuck

Posted by: roo at May 20, 2006 7:00 PM

Actually, you are.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 21, 2006 9:04 AM

Norman and Patrick,
Deidre typed "I love Amy". The "<3" is a HEART, just turn your head.
I <3 You. See. :)

Posted by: Deb at July 14, 2006 2:37 AM

WOW! My boyfriend had a build-a-bear doll given to him by his ex that drove me CRAZY. I told him how I felt so we took the bear together and dropped it into a sewage. I watched the bear slowly drown into nasty sh*t water, and it felt so good to watch his ex's gift become extinct! =)
Burn the bears Invaded! Or drop them into sh*t water! Cheers!

Posted by: J.P. at July 9, 2007 4:06 PM

Wonderful ideas from everybody, but the first one, from Norman, said it best.

Posted by: Pussnboots [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 12, 2008 11:42 AM

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