I think there are plenty of people getting stuffed and fluffed in New York and the bears of Fifth Avenue are no exception. The way they go from flaccid and deflated to full to bursting so suddenly, as the white stuff is pumped into them hard, it seems almost violent.
For 50 to 100 bucks you can take your own bear home. "Stuff me" and "Fluff me" their signs insist and adults seem to get really excited about this. I guess their kids do too? We stumbled into Build-A-Bear Workshop I imagine the same way many parents do: not wanting to, but with a well-meaning granny in town.
Factory lines of pink and rainbow bear casings awaited us, all hanging by their chicken necks from shiny silver hook. Gaping holes at their navels indicate where the rods go in - that's where the stuffing happens. The fluffing happens at a separate table, complete with a wide range of appropriate accessories, from brushes to lotions.
When we took "Rainbow" up to the counter to sign the adoption certificate, the attendant didn't give us the sort of congratulations that seemed fitting for my Jewish Italian mother-in-law. "She's not even looking up at us! Where do we swipe the Visa? Why isn't she looking at us? Perhaps she's had a bad day?"
Now a sigh from the staff member. Now she looks at us. The look was inappropriate. Are we taking Rainbow? Are we leaving Rainbow? I looked at him: stuffed and fluffed, he didn't seem to care. He looked pretty done. My JIMIL calls the manager. "It seems that your cashier needs to take a break," she says. "It's clear from the service we received." Somewhere in the bustling out of the shop the clasp on Rainbow's $3 suitcase snapped clean off. I made a vague promise to return it (100 blocks from our apartment) on principal. Somewhere on the subway home Rainbow disappeared altogether.
I think he got what he wanted.