This is beating a horse corpse (I did actually check–it is a band name), but I really need to talk about the big news of last month.
In case you live under an effing rock, here goes the back story: a new poll shows that 35 percent of British adults still sleep with a teddy bear (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2104641/Travelodge-survey-reveals-35-cent-British-adults-teddy-bed-them.html).
First off, are you fucking kidding me, England?
Apologies for speaking so coarsely, I know it’s oh-so-dreadful to butcher the Queen’s tongue like that. Also, I do not want this to come off as another ‘Anti-Anglo’ piece because I truly do appreciate the people and the culture; between Adele’s Grammy glory and the impending summer Olympics, 2012 should be a banner year for the UK.
Having said that, this shit cray.
Let’s just say, hypothetically, I’m in London and fancy a pint at the local pub where 30 locals are drinking. Statistically, 10 of them will stumble home that night, re-heat a scone, watch an episode of “Top Gear,” and eventually resolve, ‘i need to go spoon a toddler’s toy in bed.’ This scenario is being played out in Great Britain, with little deviation, every single night. Also, not to belabor how significant a figure 35% of ADULTS is, but this survey related strictly to teddy bears. I think we can safely add another 5% to include furry bedmates of several different species: frogs, owls, birds, I don’t know; there is no telling what the Brits won’t stuff-and-hug.
Harry Harlow, an American, famously conducted a series of primate experiments in the 1960s where he gave infant monkeys a choice between a wire-frame mother that dispensed milk and a cloth mother that did not. In the subsequent scenarios, most subjects preferred the contact comfort of the cloth mother to the sustenance of the wire-frame version. That is all I remember from freshman Psych, but I think it had a lot to do with maternal attachment issues. Food for thought, but back to British people.
Some may consider these recent teddy findings unrepresentative, or perhaps, if one does accept it as at least a fair ballpark figure (35-40%, I repeat), some may brush it off as an adorable little quirk for a country that is traditionally, well, traditional. From Winnie-the-Pooh to Paddington, England has long had a (nobody would dare say perverted) literary fascination with creating precocious, gluttonous l’il bear characters. Which is all cute and allowable, but please let’s not forgive them just yet.
If you go to the BBC’s website, you’ll find that this story is being completely hidden from their headlines. Yet, I need not go very far in my BBC browsing to find editorials declaring the U.S. as a fallen empire with a heavily-divided electorate, its people obese and xenophobic. Admittedly, this is me paraphrasing liberally, but take just one look in their royal, scheming eyes, and you’ll know damn well that they believe all of the above about the ‘States.’
And you know what, England? Touché. We are fat. Our children are some of the worst academic performers in the developed world. We do seem to have a cultural identity crisis that does not promise to resolve itself anytime soon. But at the end of each day, our president is still black and we still strive to sleep next to naked women, not wittle stuffed animals.
Plus…. we invented the teddy bear! For those of you ignorant like I was ten minutes ago, the concept of the teddy bear is in fact named after Rough Rider (not Ruff Ryder) and Mount Rushmore face Teddy Roosevelt. While president in 1902, Roosevelt was hunting with some other statesman and refused to shoot a black bear while it was tied up, calling it ‘unsportsmanlike.’ Soon after, a political cartoon was released satirizing Roosevelt, who is still our most connected-to-nature elected executive to date. It would behoove me to omit, at this time, the sheer fact that a century later, vice prez Cheney not only was willing to shoot a black bear in cold blood, but actually the most dangerous game–a human being. Presumably because it was ‘unsportsmanlike’ not to.
Digressions aside, that was the birth of the teddy bear. Soon, the little fuckers were being mass produced and England freakin’ loved it, big surprise. They eventually set up the first Teddy Bear Museum, in 1984, proving yet again they are not above taking credit for our finest contributions to international culture (e.g. Madonna’s speaking voice, little show called The Office).
To tell you the truth, I feel bad for the British, it’s an awfully embarrassing revelation for the world to learn. I can just imagine what it will be like for their dignitaries at the next G-8 or G-20 summit. Prime Minister David Cameron will be trying to make some important speech regarding the re-valuation of the British Pound given the financial collapse(s) in Continental Europe, then he will look down at the crowd and see the Indian Minister of Finance miming a ‘baby sucking his thumb’ gesture, the Japanese and Brazilian delegates will be nearby, cackling hysterically.
You want my advice, England? Okay, here goes: at the next United Nations sleepover, just pack the essentials. I know, I know, it’s hard. I know you want to bring that cuddly, precious bear with you, clinging to it pathetically through the night like it’s the concept-of-a-monarchy-in-the-21st-century. I know that you have nightmares, I know they can be scary. I know that you toss and turn thinking about how it has been decades since an Englishman won Wimbledon, but trust me when I tell you that Paddington cannot protect you from that fate. Trust me when I tell you that suggesting tea every half-hour will only invite more ridicule. You follow my guidelines and I think in 10, maybe 15 years, the international community will have completely forgotten about this mess, it will be time for you to re-build your reputation.
Things could, actually, be worse. Take Germany for instance. http://www.thelocal.de/society/20120221-40873.html.
Insert New Jersey joke here.