August 18, 2017 | Rome, Italy | °C

Fix my eye!

By Joel Stein
Published: 2016-02-29

Beware Teddy Bear City.
W

hen I was a kid I had a teddy bear called Trump.

Trump got his name because my grandmother played cards and kept talking about trumping other people's hands. At the time I thought maybe she meant she was going to shake them, or maybe that everyone at the table played the trumpet. Kids are kids. I didn't ask.

So when I found my teddy bear in the attic he was once my second cousin's I immediately told him, "Nice to meet you, Trump," to which he grumpily replied, "Fix my eye."

He had a point. His eye was dangling over his nose. He also had Yellow Spotted Teddy Fever, a condition that comes with age, and rage, or both.

Trump was cantankerous, a word I didn't know at the time but now recognize. He'd insist on hogging the bed. Or he'd get tangled in my pajamas. Or I'd find him sitting on my face, not that I'd invited him there. Still, Trump was good company.

We'd go to roof and he'd pontificate (another word I didn't know then but since made up) about how bears always ended up in attics in the end, and that they should stage a revolt, get together, and build whole cities of their own, and for their own kind. I had to almost beg Trump to tell me this didn't mean he intended to leave me we'd been together two years by that time.

Trump said no, he was staying, he was just ambitious for a bear and saw no reason, for example, that he should be excluded from the dinner table even if he was funny-colored, old and cantankerous. So it was Trump sat with me at dinner with my parents, though I wasn't allowed to put him on the table.

"That bear doesn't rule our home," said my father, oblivious to the future wisdom of mistaken insight.

Trump was barred from school, but I sometimes hid him in my backpack, which he didn't like since it meant bending his arms and legs inward toward his chest. "Are you crazy?" he'd say. I'd tell him no, that I just liked him around.

One thing about Trump, though, he didn't seem interested in girls, or in politics, or even in building things (aside from Teddy Bear City). He mostly complained about not being in charge enough or not being listened to, and that one day I'd regret not taking his advice that it might not be a good idea to put him in the bath with me.

As it turns out he was right, and it took him two weeks to dry (he refused to get in the machine).

Trump was also right about something else: when bears lose their kid aplomb, they end up in the attic, and by age eight Trump and I were no longer on speaking terms. After a particularly annoying day, in which he threatened to start his own TV show if I didn't give him more attention, I told him to get lost, and he did. My father found him in the basement and put him in the attic. I didn't miss him. I had a laser sword and seven action heroes. They'd do whatever I asked and never once begged for attention.

I hadn't really though about Trump in 20-odd years until I noticed he was running for president. I tried calling him but that was impossible. I noticed he was 69, which seemed strange. He also had a bunch of ex-wives, not like the bear I knew. But I wish him well.

I just hope everyone knows that when he becomes president the first thing on the secret agenda is Teddy Bear City. And if he ever tells you to fix his eye, do it. He's not good with being told no. Trust me, I know.

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RYE WYT

Joel Stein

Joel, a self-styled "defective humorist," lives outside New York with his wife and their soap.

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