I should warn you from the get go, sap is imminent. Lots of it.
I was going to blog tonight about this restaurant Leona's which I'm convinced is waging some incredibly complex and long-standing practical joke against me. No restaurant can be that consistently terrible and flourish. But something else happened and I decided I wanted to write about that.
Laney and I left Leona's at about 7:30, came home, brushed teeth, read stories got all snuggly and almost asleep when Laney said to me, "Can you go downstairs and get Fluffy." And then a cold feeling of dread descended over me. We left Fluffy at the restaurant. Fluffy was still in Leona's playroom.
Fluffy is the Build-A-Bear which is actually a dog that we got for Laney at the start of the school year. She loves this toy to distraction. Fluffy is her constant companion. She rides with us to school and waits in the car (because Laney feels that the car is safer for Fluffy than school) until it's time to go home. She sleeps with Laney every night. And we'd left Fluffy at the damn restaurant.
Tears sprang to Laney's eyes and I was just about to start my "You left your toy at the restaurant and now are going to have to deal with the consequences. I'll call and hopefully she'll still be there tomorrow but you need to take better care of your toys." But before a single word left my mouth, some primal feeling overtook me and instead I said, "Come on, let's go get her."
This is REALLY not like me. I was still working through the resentment that I'd given $40 to this terrible restaurant and I still have to make Laney's Halloween costume since she's got a party tomorrow. Besides, Laney would be asleep in 10 minutes even without Fluffy and then I'd be on Meg-time. And yet there was no question. We were going to get Fluffy.
As we were driving to the restaurant, I started to tell Laney about Peppy who was my favorite stuffed animal when I was about her age. I hadn't thought about Peppy in years. It was somewhere in the mid-70s, and I was visiting my cousin in Texas. My uncle had taken us to a carnival or state fair or something and had won or bought the doll for me. And I named her Peppy. And I loved her. Peppy was one of those cheap carnival prizes and was meant to look just enough not like Snoopy to avoid copyright infringement. I'd put blue eye shadow and pink blush on her and loved her to distraction. She looked like Snoopy if Snoopy were a particularly down-on-her-luck hooker. And she was my constant companion.
One year, I reckon I was about nine, we were on a trip to Florida and we stopped midway in a hotel. My friend, Beth, and I were sharing a room with my big brother and his friend, Joe. My parents were in the room adjacent. Nolan and Joe were playing wrestling with the dog and poor Peppy's head got ripped halfway off. In my eagerness to prove how grown up I was, I said "Oh, just throw her away."
Beth, always so much wiser than me, said "Are you sure?" I can conjure up her look of friendly, concerned admonition as if it were yesterday. But I had a little pre-pubescent crush on Joe and wanted to show him that I was NOT a baby.
About 10 miles on our way to Florida the next morning, I started to regret the decision. I crawled in the back of our Rambler and cried quietly. I felt so guilty and stupid. Beth understood. She was always such a good friend! "Poor Pepsi," she said (Beth called her Pepsi), and patted my head.
And now 30-odd years later, I had my chance to Make It Right. I told Laney all about my Peppy on the drive to the restaurant and when we got there (Leona's primary virtue is being close), there was Fluffy, sitting quietly in the playroom... waiting for us.
On the way home, Laney hugged her doll close to her and asked me if I would be happy if she could get Peppy for me. She's such a sweet kid and was so relieved to have her doll back and wanted me to feel like she did. I thought about it for a second and said "No, Peppy was for me as a little girl and I'm not a little girl anymore." And then she asked if I wished I could be a little girl again. And I said, "Well, you grow up and get to be all sorts of things. I got to be a nine and now I get to be 41, and get to have my own little girl and that's pretty great."
But (and I am honestly embarrassed to be this sappy), I think that little girl crying in the back of the Rambler is still with me and now, 30-odd years later, I feel OK about poor Peppy.
Laney is sound asleep now with her arms wrapped around Fluffy. And that's pretty great.