My Stuffed Dino
This isn’t a game-related story, or something to inspire your gaming table. It’s just a tale I don’t recall having ever told that, at 2am, my brain has latched onto as a focal point for a lot of my pain and depression right now.
Feel free to skip it.
I love dinosaurs. It’s one of my very oldest fandoms.
Before Star Wars. Before D&D. Before Micronauts. Before sci-fi, fantasy, superheroes, and powered armor.
Maybe the first thing I grokked as a group of things, and loved, were dinosaurs.
When I was a very young child my mother took me with her grocery shopping one day. The store had a bin of soft, fuzzy stuffed-animal dinosaurs.
And I fell in love with one, in particular. So I asked my mother to buy it for me.
It was, she said, out of our price range for toys.
So, I asked, if we don’t buy it… what happens to it. What if NO ONE buys it?
Well then, she said quite reasonably, it’ll stay here and someone can buy it tomorrow.
And asked, genuinely aghast, you mean they’ll leave it in the store. At night? With the lights off?
I sat on the floor of the grocery store, and burst into tears. Not quite little trickles, but snot-out-my-nose, can’t-see, gasping-for-breath tears.
Look, I’m not saying I was above feigning being truly upset to pressure my mother to buy something for me… though I don’t recall that ever actually working. And this was more than 45 years ago, so I can’t claim to have perfect recall. But as I remember it, I was just truly TERRIFIED for the stuffed dinosaur.
I needed to know it would be safe. Be loved. And if I couldn’t do that, I was afraid no one ever would.
My mother stared at me for several seconds, then picked up the dino and told me it could come home. I could barely pick myself up. I don’t even think I thanked her.
(BTW — Thanks, Mom.)
And so I ended up with a bigger-than-most-of-my-animals stuffed dino. I slept with it for months, and then it joined the Council of Pluff that usually just sat on my toy chest. It served as chairman for many years (until I got a Stuffed Polar Bear As Big As Me, which is a different, and much more on-brand for me, story).
But if I saw sad, or upset, or afraid? If I needed to hug something and none of our cats was up fro the job?
For a lot of years, that Dino was my go-to.